What they’re saying about the passing of Gary Carter

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Gary Carter passed away this afternoon at the age of 57 following a fight with brain cancer. Here’s some reaction from around a baseball world in mourning.

Mets chairman & CEO Fred Wilpon, president Saul Katz and COO Jeff Wilpon: “On behalf of everyone at the Mets, we extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Gary’s family — his wife Sandy, daughters Christy and Kimmy and son D.J.  His nickname ‘The Kid’ captured how Gary approached life. He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field. His smile was infectious. He guided our young pitching staff to the World Series title in 1986 and he devoted an equal amount of time and energy raising awareness for a multitude of charities and community causes.  He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did.”

MLB commissioner Bud Selig: Driven by a remarkable enthusiasm for the game, Gary Carter became one of the elite catchers of all-time,” said Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “‘The Kid’ was an 11-time All-Star and a durable, consistent slugger for the Montreal Expos and the New York Mets, and he ranks among the most beloved players in the history of both of those franchises. Like all baseball fans, I will always remember his leadership for the ’86 Mets and his pivotal role in one of the greatest World Series ever played. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Gary’s wife, Sandy; their daughters, Christy and Kimmie; their son, D.J.; their grandchildren; his friends and his many fans.”

Former Mets manager Davey Johnson, via Adam Rubin of ESPN New York: “Gary was a one-man scouting system. What people didn’t know was that he kept an individual book on every batter in the National League. He was the ideal catcher for our young pitching staff.”

Former Mets teammate Darryl Strawberry, during an interview on WFAN: “I wish I could have lived my life like Gary Carter. He was a true man.”

Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda: “Rest in peace Gary Carter. Gary played for me and was a Hall of Famer on and off the field. I respected and loved him.”

Former Mets teammate Howard Johnson, via Andy Martino of the New York Daily News: “It’s a sad day for his family, and for us. The way things happened with Gary this year, it is tough to take it all in. Kid was so incredibly strong. There is not much you can do at this point, other than pray for the family.”

Former Mets teammate Dwight Gooden: “My batterymate, my friend, I am so blessed to have played with & can call Gary my friend he meant a lot to me on & off the field with the way he battled his fight to the end gives me a lot of strength & faith to battle mine, we will always be connected at the hip RIP my brother.”

Former Mets teammate Ron Darling, via MetsBlog: ”The baseball world lost one of its gladiators today, and I have lost a friend.  Gary Carter was everything you wanted in a sports hero: a great talent, a great competitor, a great family man, and a great friend.  To know Gary was to care deeply for him, and I am deeply saddened.  All my thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sandy and their children.”

Former Mets teammate Bob Ojeda, via MetsBlog: “We are all very saddened to hear of Gary’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. He was not only a Hall of Fame ballplayer, but also a Hall of Fame man as well. He is gone too soon for us to understand. May he rest in peace.”

Former Mets teammate Wally Backman, via Andy Martino of the New York Daily News: “He was a big brother figure to a lot of us. He was one of our leaders.”

Hall of Famer Johnny Bench: “I am so sad! The Kid has left us. I started calling him Kid the first time I met him. He was admired and loved. Thank you for our past.”

Mets third baseman David Wright, via David Lennon of New York Newsday: “If you strive to be half the player and half the person Gary Carter was, you’ll be all right.”

Former Expos teammate Steve Rogers, via the Associated Press: “Learning of Gary’s passing feels as if I just lost a family member. Gary and I grew up together in the game, and during our time with the Expos we were as close as brothers, if not closer. Gary was a champion. He was a `gamer’ in every sense of the word – on the field and in life. He made everyone else around him better, and he made me a better pitcher.”

Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, via the Associated Press: “Nobody loved the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. Nobody enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played.”

David Ortiz thinks the Yankees leaked his 2003 drug test results

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David Ortiz was one of the hundred or so ballplayers who tested positive for PEDs during the 2003 survey testing which was designed to determine whether or not baseball’s drug problem was significant enough to warrant full-blown testing the following year.  His and everyone else’s name was supposed to remain confidential — indeed, the test results were supposed to be destroyed — but the government illegally seized them and, eventually, his, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa’s names were leaked.

While most people have long moved on from those survey test results — and while Rob Manfred himself recently said that those results may not, in fact, establish that Ortiz took banned substances  — the story still sticks in Ortiz’s craw. So much so that he’s still out speculating about how his results were made public. His theory? The Yankees did it. From an interview on WEEI:

“What was the reason for them to come out with something like that?” he said. “The only thing that I can think of, to be honest with you, a lot of big guys from the Yankees were being caught. And no one from Boston. This was just something that leaked out of New York, and they had zero explanation about it.”

I’m gonna call B.S. on that.

At the time names were surfacing in connection with those test results, in the summer of 2009, I was given a list of players by an anonymous source. This person claimed it was a list of all 100+ players who tested positive in 2003. Given the nature in which they were provided to me and given that, at the time, there were a lot of people circulating hoax lists, I was dubious to say the least. I had a separate source at the time who knew people who had access to the actual list of players. The source would not tell me who was on the actual list — it was and continues to be confidential — but the knowledgable source did confirm for me that, as I suspected, my list was bunk. I obviously didn’t write anything about it and moved on.

Some added value from that conversation, however, was learning just how few people actually had access to the real list. A small handful of top officials at the union and the league office did, I was told, and obviously the government had it given that they seized it in their idiotic and illegal raid, but that was it. Clubs, I was specifically told, did not have the list.

We’ll never know for sure, but I strongly, strongly suspect that the source of the leak was either IRS/FDA agent Jeff Novitzky, who spearheaded the government’s investigation into PEDs or someone close to him, such as the prosecutors with whom he worked. Novitzky spent close to a decade outing and prosecuting athletes for PED use and, in my view and the view of many others who followed the story at the time, he saw his work as an almost holy crusade. As the above-linked story about the federal court smacking down his seizure of the 2003 test results as illegal, he was often overzealous.

The reporter who broke the story of David Ortiz’s positive test result was Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times. Schmidt almost always had the first stories about players being outed as PED users during that period and his reporting on steroids in baseball in general almost always carried with it a pro-government slant. As I said, we’ll never know for sure, but it seems obvious to me that federal investigators and prosecutors were his sources. I suspect they were his sources for the name-naming articles as well. When Ortiz’s name leaked, Novitzky’s investigation was on the brink of being smacked down hard by a federal court and, I suspect, he leaked Ortiz’s name to the New York Times as a means of putting a face on the story and getting public sentiment on the side of those who would name names.

Like I said, though, that’s all ancient history at this point. At least to most people. It’s not to David Ortiz, which is understandable given that the whole incident affected him personally. But I think he’s wrong on the Yankees being the ones to out him. I don’t think anyone with the Yankees knew who was actually on the list. And even if they did, they had no incentive to get into some sort of P.R. war about PED users given that they already at least one prominent superstar getting killed for PED use and a lot of other ones who could possibly have been on the list as well.

But the feds had the list. And a desire to have the bad guys they were trying to prosecute shamed in the public arena. I’d bet a decent sum of money that they’re the ones who leaked your name, Big Papi. I’d aim your rhetorical guns at them if I were you.

 

Buster Posey and Brandon Belt had an on-field tiff Saturday night

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The Giants beat the Cardinals on Saturday night, but there was some grumpiness between a couple of Giants players all the same.

As Hank Shulman reports, late in the 13-inning game Fox TV cameras caught catcher Buster Posey yelling at first baseman Belt after Stephen Piscotty of the Cardinals stole second base. Then, after the final out, there was a brief, cold stare down between the teammates. The issue would appear to be Posey being upset with Belt for not holding Piscotty close at first base and then Belt being upset with Posey for calling him out in front of God and the fans and the TV cameras and everyone.

Neither Posey nor Belt would talk about it to reporters afterwards or on Sunday, saying the matter was between them and that they’d deal with it privately. Which is a smart move.

Of course, if Posey heeded that advice beforehand and took up his dissatisfaction with Belt in private, the reporters wouldn’t have even known about it in the first place.