Carter, the Hall of Famer and former Met who had always seemed impossibly upbeat as a player, is trying to view his latest career turn the same way. He is the manager of the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden League. It is the lowest rung of professional baseball, filled with castoffs and others trying to keep alive their dreams of reaching the big leagues. Carter is no different — he is striving to make it back to the major leagues as a manager . . .
. . . But when the conversation veers toward the reasons he is here — that neither the Mets, for whom he spent two seasons as a successful minor league manager, nor anyone else will offer him a big-league job — the smiles, the enthusiasm and the word play disappear.
I have a really hard time having sympathy for Gary Carter's frustrated managerial prospects for reasons that are clearly on display in the very article that gives him a platform from which to vent them:
Carter, after spending the first decade of retirement working as an announcer and on his golf game, turned back to baseball when his three children were out of the house.
Good for him for choosing to be with his family once his playing days were over, but he has to understand that most of the guys who become major league managers don't go into a decade-long exile from the game at age 40. Even the former players work their tails off or, at the very least, stay connected in real ways that show management that they are committed to baseball for the long haul now that their glory days are over. Can you name one manager who slipped into am extended retirement -- a real retirement in which he didn't coach or at least broadcast -- and then came back to manage? I can't. But that's not all!
After guiding the Mets’ rookie league team to the best record in the Gulf Coast League in 2005 and the Class A St. Lucie team to the Florida State League title the next season, Carter balked when he was offered the manager’s job with the Mets’ Class AA club in Binghamton, N.Y. He said he had already shown the Mets he could manage and did not want to stray far from his home near Palm Beach, Fla., without assurances he was “their guy.”Retirement aside, Carter still got a chance, and he utterly blew it off. Ask yourself: has any player been drafted, tore up rookie ball, then tore up A ball, and then refused their promotion to AA because they felt that they were somehow being slighted? By refusing the assignment to Binghamton, Carter signaled loud and clear that he was not serious about wanting to see this thing through. Assurances? What the hell kind of assurances does anyone get? How would Willie Randolph have felt in the winter of 2006 if the Mets had told Gary Carter that he was "their guy?" The last time I remember any team telling someone, implicitly or explicitly, that they were "the guy" was when Marge Schott openly groomed and promoted Ray Knight as Davey Johnson's replacement with the Reds while Johnson was still managing. That certainly worked out well.
If Carter wanted to manage in the big leagues, he should have done what another All-Star catcher did: served as an organizational solider for a few years, moved up to coaching, took a manager's job in the high minors when one becomes available, did a good job there, and then hope against hope that good fortune smiled upon him. If he had done that -- if he had gone to Binghamton in 2007 -- don't you think he'd be on the short list of permanent Mets managers now? Hell, if he were in Binghamton waiting in the wings, the Wilpons might have canned Manuel along with Randolph and just ensconced the Kid in the Shea dugout.
But Carter blew it. Twice. And he's still complaining. Cry me a river.