The disgrace is that the Mets had 22 years to do the right thing based on performance, based on accomplishment, based on Gary Carter’s inviolable place in the collective heart of their fans. He is a Hall-of-Fame player who played the meat of his prime as a Met. He was the missing piece to a championship puzzle.
On a team forever remembered as much for its indefatigable bacchanalia as its baseball, Carter was one player you never feared would break the fans’ covenant of faith. He spent far more time in chapel and trainer’s room than saloon or casino. And from the moment the Mets released him on Nov. 14, 1989, there should’ve been a plan to invite him back for a Day, capital “D,” to put his number 8, forever, on the wall.
The Mets, being the Mets, never did that.
The Mets, being the Mets, have treated that 1986 team with a curious blend of indifference and aloofness. By this time, by the 25th anniversary of their second world championship, the Mets should’ve retired 8, and they should’ve retired Keith Hernandez’s No. 17, together or separately. But this is a team that opened a new ballpark two years ago without a trace of its own history preserved anywhere within its walls, had to be guilted into finally acknowledging that it even had a history.
Carter is sick now, news that has devastated the Mets’ family and fan base. And the Mets face a disquieting choice now. Even an operation as tone-deaf as this ought to know that it should finally step up and do the right thing, have a day sometime in the next few months, put Carter’s 8 up on the wall next to 37, 14, 41 and 42.
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