Friday, June 27, 2008


By Gary Carter with Phil Pepe

You may remember, more than two months ago now, when I said I was dropping everything to read the new book by Gary Carter, which I just happened upon in Barnes & Noble while walking down the sports section aisle.

Well, I've only just finished the book (in case you thought I was holding back on the review I promised). It's not that it was a 550-page tome that had me slogging through it every day. It's partly because when I get books like this that have to do with baseball or something I'm really interested in, I savor them, and read them slowly, trying to drag them out for a while. The other part of taking my time with this book had to do with the fact that it wasn't really setting my world on fire.

The good news about the book is that it wasn't the same ol', same ol'. I have two other books by Gary Carter (I think they're the only other two, but I can't say that for sure) - A Dream Season, which is all about the 1986 season, and The Gamer, written right after his retirement, which summarizes his career. There's a little overlap in those books.

This one, while I was expecting that, doesn't really dwell on 1986, which I thought it would, nor does it focus on his family. While I find both of those things interesting (the 1986 part more than the family part, though for an embarrassingly long time I daydreamed that I would marry one of Carter's daughters and become part of his family, so I can't say I'm totally uninterested in his family), it was nice to hear Carter voice his opinion on other things.

And voice he did. Carter writes about coaching, his impressions of the business side of baseball, steroids, the game of baseball in general and his love of the game, the Hall of Fame, who might end up in the Hall of Fame, who should be in the Hall of Fame, and how he felt becoming a Hall of Famer.

Some of this stuff is interesting, some of it is pages-long examples of what it would be like if you gave Gary Carter a job interview, and none of it is ground-breaking. There's not one thing in there that makes you think, "Wow. That's an original idea - no one has thought of that before."

I want to give you an example of what I mean when I say parts of the book read like a job interview. At times Carter comes off as desperate, or rather eager - as in this excerpt:

"Having been a minor league manager, I think I now know what it takes to be a good big-league manager, but do I really know? I've never done it, and until I have, I really can't know. I know a lot of responsibility is put on a big-league manager that minor league managers don't have to face. It takes working with the media, being fan friendly, and caring for your players. I have the greatest appreciation and respect for those who have done it and have been successful. I think I can be successful, too. I believe my qualifications are there. I'm confident I can handle it, but I won't know until I've done it. I would love the opportunity to try. I accept the fact that it might not happen. If it does, it would be a blessing."

So, I'm thinking he'd like a shot at managing in the bigs. Just a guess.

That's a taste of what the book is about. Though it's fading fast (see next section below), I have a high tolerance of Gary Carter because he's my favorite. I don't think this book would be for everyone...but if you want a heaping helping of Carter, this is where to get it.

FOOT-IN-MOUTH DISEASE, AGAIN: I'm not sure I understand why Carter keeps opening his mouth these days. The Wife sent me this article the other day from the New York Post in which Carter goes off on Joe Girardi and the Steinbrenners. I don't know why he does this. If he's trying to get publicity for himself for his book, someone should tell him he's going about it in totally the wrong way. (The Post took the quote from an interview with T.J. Simers in the LA Times - I can't figure out if Simers is in Carter's corner or not. But that's worth a read too.)

Here's the kicker - the guy can manage. The Orange County Flyers are 21-6, best in the Golden Baseball League. We might have to start another edition of "The Kid's Kids".

So three minor league stops, and all Carter has done at each of those stops is lead his teams to winning seasons (very winning seasons).

With the kind of characters involved in professional sports, it's amazing to me that no one will give Carter the time of day...whether or not he can keep his mouth shut.

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