New Manager Gary Carter Looks to Bring Mets' Magic to Central Islip
Back in 1986, the New York Mets took over the city with not only 108 regular season wins, but a World Series championship that will go down in history as one of the most exciting of all time. Right in the middle of it was none other than Gary Carter, the 11-time All-Star catcher acquired from Montreal two years earlier.
Known as "The Kid" because of his youthful exuberance, Carter - who played five successful seasons in Flushing - brings that smile back to New York this summer, but instead will be out east as the newly-named manager of the Long Island Ducks, who are no strangers to former Mets.
Bud Harrelson, who can be called 'Mr. Duck,' was the third base coach on that 1986 club and is once again reunited with Carter and stood by his side at the press conference held at Citibank Park in November. After being introduced as Dave LaPoint's replacement, Carter said, "I'm very excited to be back in New York, and to have the opportunity to manage a first class organization like this one."
Principal owner Frank Boulton added, "As we head into our 10th anniversary season, we are excited to have Gary on board to lead our team. He has had great success in baseball both as a player and a manager, and we are confident he will help bring an Atlantic League championship back to Long Island."
It has been five years and counting since the Ducks last won it all, and although they have made the postseason every year since then, they have yet to advance past the first round (or even win a playoff game) once they took home the trophy in 2004. Carter, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, hopes to break the losing trend.
As far as managerial experience goes, Carter has had success in three different stops, two in the Mets organization. In 2005, he was named the Gulf Coast League Manager of the Year, and repeated that the following season at the helm of the St. Lucie Mets, winning the honors in the Florida State League.
Winning in the Independent circuit is old hat to Carter after he led the Orange County Flyers to the Golden Baseball League title this past year. He will to bring some of that patience and knowledge to the Ducks, who will lose players as the season progresses to major league organizations. That is the natural progression for players at this level and one that is understood going in.
Once thought of as a Met for the long haul in his post-playing days, Carter seemed to have a hand in his own demise. What caused his departure from the team has been one of the knocks against him. When he was asked to move up the ladder, Carter turned down the offer due to the fact that he didn't want to move his family out of Florida. (Hate to break the news to you, but Long Island is not part of the Sunshine State.)
Secondly, Carter opened campaigned for the Mets managerial job on two occasions while the position was still filled. The first time came as Art Howe's head was on the chopping block and more recently when Willie Randolph had vultures surrounding him.
"I'm only a phone call away, because my contract allows me to leave this job," Carter said on "The Mike and Murray Show" on Sirius Satellite Radio last summer while still managing in Orange County. "I could be in New York tomorrow, if necessary, because if there's anything at the major league level, I can leave this job."
Carter went on to say that he called Mets VP of media relations Jay Horowitz and asked him if he should contact Mets owner Fred Wilpon.
Widely criticized - and rightfully so - because of this, Carter has not been taken seriously as a candidate for a bench boss job in the big leagues. He will have to prove himself all over again and also do something that he is not used to at any time during his baseball career - take the back seat and the high road. Having a knack for saying the wrong thing is not a trait for a manager, especially in New York. The self-conscious Mets look to avoid controversy, not attract it.
That is something Carter needs to learn and a 'fan first' organization like the Ducks is a good place to start for him. He should do well here and hopefully one day receive a call instead of making one.