Today is a special day for me. The Chicago Cubs pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training, which means it is now baseball season in my world.* However, it’s also been a sad couple of days for many baseball fans: on Thursday, Gary Carter died, less than a year after his doctors discovered brain cancer. I’ve been sad about this too.
*For most of you, baseball season will start when the actual season starts in April, or perhaps a few weeks before in late March, or perhaps sometime later in the year if you are not gripped by baseball. To all of you, I say: you should try my way of doing things. You see, not only does baseball season start now, but Spring has begun. It’s a happy place. Granted, our winter has been more like spring this year, but we’ll probably get one more big snow, and lots of you are going to be plunged back into the winter that never happened. I’ll be enjoying Spring.
Being sad about Carter’s passing surprised me a little. He started his career playing for the Montreal Expos, a team that meant nothing to me*, and then he moved to the New York Mets, who were in the midst of a season of spiteful rivalry with my Cubs.
*Well, not nothing. That’s what it meant to Bud Selig and Jeff Loria. But not much, since I am a Cub fan, and didn’t spend much time thinking about the Expos. I did always love their funky M logo.
Gary Carter wasn’t the most unlikeable member of those Mets (that, of course, would be Doug Sisk) (Just kidding, Doug!), but disliking Mets was what we did. As I’ve been thinking back to those years, my recollection is that the thing I disliked Gary Carter for most was his sincerity. Almost anything you read about Gary Carter will talk about his joy at playing, and that was annoying (as an opposing fan). But that was pretty much it – the man was happy to be a baseball player, he seemed completely sincere about it, and he was really good at it. I look back at that now, and I’m reminded one thing: I had some dumb ideas as a kid. I suppose we all did (or do, for the many teens who just love to read what I write – hi, young adults!). Dislike someone because of their sincerity and joy? I’d rather now celebrate him for those same things.