Monday, October 3, 2011

Is this Comment from Joe Carter?

By
Typically, I take anonymous comments here with a grain of salt. Whether they be outlandish, unconventional or even vicious comments, I almost always respond to them.

But last night, I received the mother of all anonymous comments that left me absolutely speechless.

It was left on the "Is the Legacy of Joe Carter Overrated?" post that I wrote back in May, and if you look at the very bottom of the post, you'll find this comment:
"Ian, I guess the 396 HR's I hit didn't matter also.
Maybe I just got lucky for 16 years.

You may want to define my career with the WS HR, but it is much more than that. How about in '86 when I was 1 HR, 1 SB, and 1 triple away from doing something that had never been done in the history of the game. ( 300 AVG. 100 RBI's, 100 runs, 200 hits, 9 triples, 29 HR and 29 SB and double digits in doubles).

All these numbers you guys come up with don't mean a thing to me. The bottom line is wins and championships. Everybody has a job to do on a team, mine was to drive in runs and hit HR's.

Do you want stats or championships?? It's a lot of guys that would trade their stats for a championship ring anyday. So don't lose focus on why we play the game!!!! Rings not stats!!!!"

- Joe Carter (Yes the real Joe Carter!!!)
Anonymous comments can come from anywhere and claim to be anybody, but I have a sneaking suspicion this one just might actually be the real Joe Carter (and not just because they say they're the real Joe Carter).

How do I know that? The comment came from near Kansas City, which is Joe Carter's hometown. Again, it could just be somebody from Kansas City pretending to him, but why would they go to the length to type out a comment just to troll a baseball blog?

Rather than assume that this person wasn't Joe Carter, just for a moment let's assume it actually was Joe Carter. If that's him, whoa. Just by the dialogue used in the comment, it sounds very similar to things Joe Carter has said in previous interviews, re: statistics.

If I were Joe Carter, I wouldn't blame him at all for being pissed off for finding that post and being very angry with somebody challenging their entire career. After all, what Major League baseball experience do I have? Zero.

But thanks to advanced Sabermetrics, we have the benefit of looking back and taking a second glance at player's careers from a different perspective. The Sabermetric movement arguably helped Bert Blyleven get into Cooperstown, and I'm sure it will do the same for others down the road.

If this was truly Joe Carter that left this comment on that post, then I am absolutely flabbergasted. My childhood hero now knows who I am, but now he only knows me as some blogger who tried to badmouth his career accomplishments on the internet. Not exactly how I envisioned this happening.

That is not what I intended to do at all, I merely just wanted folks from my generation to challenge their perception of what Joe Carter meant to the Toronto Blue Jays, aside from the historic home run in the 1993 World Series.

The article did not come from a place of malice or hostility at all. I never thought in a million years that the man I looked up to for so many years (and still do) would ever lay eyes on this blog, let alone a blog post that questioned his legacy.

As I'm sure anybody who's ever frequented this site can attest to, Joe Carter was my childhood hero. When I was younger, I prided myself on telling people that "Joe Carter was my favourite player way before he hit that home run!".

During my very first Blue Jays game at the Skydome on October 3rd 1992, I watched the Blue Jays clinch the pennant and Joe Carter hit his 34th home run of the season. At that very instant, I knew Joe Carter would be my favourite player.

There was a streak of about 2-3 times where I tried to catch Joe Carter down at the Rogers Centre during one of his several appearances in 2008 to try to get an autograph. For one reason or another, I just never made it to the ballpark in time.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, if I was that big of a Joe Carter fan, why would I write something with such cruel intentions? Would I really be that vindictive towards Joe Carter if I still have a decorative plate with him on it back from when I was a child?

I'll tell you that the "Is the Legacy of Joe Carter Overrated?" post was the hardest one I've ever written in my life. Not in terms of research or in the time put into it, but just the fact that I was writing something that was criticizing the very man I grew up idolizing.

Nobody knows for certain whether or not that was even Joe Carter who left the comment on the post, but if it was, and if you're reading this Mr. Carter, I apologize if it came across as trying to tarnish your career accomplishments.

It's not something that I'm extremely proud of, but do I stand by my work ... just as you stand behind your body of work of 396 career home runs and 1445 career RBI's. No one can deny that's an amazing feat, and nobody can ever take that away from you.

As I'm sure most people will agree, the vision of Joe Carter rounding the bases is something that will remain ingrained in our minds forever. We'll be telling our grandchildren about the 1992-1993 Blue Jays, and at the centre of that story will be none other than Joe Carter.

As the commenter said, "don't lose focus on why we play the game ... rings, not stats". You can choose to venture further down the rabbit hole and look further at the statistics aspect of Joe Carter's career, but ultimately he was a winner. And at the end of the day, that's all that matters.

Or it was just a troll pretending to be Joe Carter after all, and I've been duped. I guess we'll never know for sure.

19 comments:

  1. Ian, I've always found your writing to be very fair and well thought out, and that article on Carter was similar in tone. As you mentioned, you don't come from a place of malice, and you're able to separate your appreciation of Joe Carter as a fan (which we all have) from where you believe his career stands statistically. That's part of what makes a good writer.

    Part of what we've seen with the progression of sabermetrics is we're able to look back and evaluate some Jays in a different perspective. And that's not bad- we're learning more about the game, and how to appreciate it.

    I believe that we can be huge Joe Carter fans, and appreciate everything he did for the Jays. He's a great player, and hit one of the biggest home runs in baseball history. I remember leaping off the couch when he hit that home run. But we can also look at it rationally, and acknowledge that sabermetrics gives us a less rose-coloured view of him.

    Keep writing, man, I always appreciate how thoughtful you are.

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  2. "Do you want stats or championships?? It's a lot of guys that would trade their stats for a championship ring any day. So don't lose focus on why we play the game!!!! Rings not stats!!!!"

    I don't buy it for a second Joe. I hear this kind of sentiment all the time, but if given the choice of having a 20 year major league career, smashing statistical records and earning tens/hundreds of millions of dollars, or being the utility infielder that gets five innings of work on a World Series team and never really accomplishing anything else in a short 3 year career, I think players would chose the former every day of the week, even if it comes at the expense of a World Series title.

    As for fans, we all do want a World Series title above and beyond anything else, and what Joe doesn't seem to realize is that we use statistics to measure how close our team is to getting there. We can also look back and evaluate players from the past and lucky for Joe, a World Series is a team accomplishment, and he was part of a very good team.

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  3. Dave, thanks for the kind words! That's the great thing about advanced statistics that are available now that weren't back in the day - it allows us to revisit certain players and see just how valuable they truly were to their team.

    Peter, I get where the commenter is coming from on this one. When players come up to the plate, they're not thinking "I hope I finish the season with 30+ home runs or 100+ RBI's". They're thinking "I hope this helps us win the game". Statistically speaking, it's probably just icing on the cake if they finish with good numbers.

    Ultimately, it's those great statistics that are going to help players earn a big pay day, not World Series rings.

    Given the choice, I'm not sure which of the two players would choose: if it was me, I'd lean more towards wanting to win a championship. The money would be great, but living out that lifelong dream of hoisting a World Series trophy would be even better.

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  4. Ask him to send you an autographed ball to prove it's really him.

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  5. You're still a nerd.

    Joe Carter (the real Joe Carter)

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  6. The depressing thing about statistics is that it strips away so many of the non-quantifiables that make baseball the game that we love. A statistical analysis ignores our love affair with players, plays, seasons, and ballparks; it casts aside our personal attachments to players and teams, and sadly, tells it like it is in the starkest possible terms. I can see where "Joe" is coming from, even if it isn't really Joe (although I suspect that it probably is) - but it doesn't change the tenor of your story. The magnitude of his heroics, and the cult of personality that surrounds his legacy, the statistics can't possibly live up to the hype. Great article.

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  7. - Joe Carter (Yes the real Joe Carter!!!)October 3, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Interesting that you are trying to now save face. I'd rather be a utility player on the bench winning a World Series than hit home runs and RBI's.

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  8. Now people are just trolling as Joe Carter

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  9. Interesting (for both of you - if in fact it's him, though I doubt it).

    You're both criticizing what each other has done publicly -- mlb players, however, should be used to this to the Nth degree.

    If Joe is out actually there - Joe, we love what you did, and wouldn't trade it for the world. But there were better individual players at the time, and evidence suggests they would have helped the team even more than you did, though we can never know for sure. None of that takes away from the fact that it was ultimately your contributions that helped win a WS, nor from what the teams - as a whole - accomplished, nor from your one-in-a-million shot (which stats are not very good at evaluating).

    So, uh, good-bye now.

    ... that felt a bit like praying.

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  10. Pete, that's one way to find out!

    JC #1, agreed! I'll glady be called a baseball nerd any day.

    Fitzcalvin, when you strip it all down to just the numbers, it definitely doesn't paint a picture of the full contributions of certain players.

    Just look at Brett Lawrie or even Jose Bautista for example - 20 years from now, if we just look at the stats, will that tell the whole story? Probably not ... unless Baseball Reference starts keeping track of Bautista staredowns and Brett Lawrie high fives.

    JC#2, at the end of the day, WS rings are more impressive than anything else.

    Anon, I figured that would happen. Now we'll never know who the real Joe Carter is!

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  11. Two words for you sir: proxy server.

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  12. Whomever left that comment seems to want to argue that "the bottom line is wins and championships" directly after pointing to a bunch of stats about HR and the 1986 season.

    As with anything, you should draw conclusions from the facts, not find facts to support your conclusions. "Joe Carter" (real or not) wants to dismiss certain stats as irrelevant and point only to the stats that make his case.

    Joe Carter's legacy is secure. He had moments in baseball that Hall of Famers can only dream of. No-one can, or should want to, take that away. He was a very good player.

    Unfortunately, Joe Carter (or some Carter fans) want to raise his career above the level of very good player with truly special moments to the level of Hall of Famer. The facts, or stats, just don't bear that out.

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  13. Ian,

    I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. Joe Carter hit an unforgettable home run, and for that, he’s a hero and rightly so. Statistically, he’s not among the all-time greats, but so what? That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a valuable part of two World Series teams, that he wasn't memorable or fun to watch/root for – and I don’t think you ever implied any of those things.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write an inflammatory post on my blog, in the hope of getting scolded by one of my childhood heroes. ;-)

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  14. Niall, good point. Again, not for certain whether this is JC or not, but if it isn't, it's somebody who knows an awful lot about Joe Carter.

    Chris, nobody will ever take this images of Joe Carter from the 1992 and 1993 World Series away from him .. ever. I think overall, Joe isn't a Hall of Fame player, but he really had a couple of Hall of Fame-type moments.

    Roberto, I didn't think it was harsh post - just pointing out a couple things looking back at Joe's career. Good luck with your quest!

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  15. Way to stick by your guns and not back down from your original post.

    I would think the hope for advanced statistics is to not destroy the indescribable romantic lore of sports, but to differentiate between the rational and the emotional. Your overall point seems to argue for that belief. An athlete doesn't necessarily have to have the best statistics to be your favourite.

    Too many times I see outright rejection of statistics because people wrongly assume statistics are trying to disprove your personal attachment.

    As for Joe Carter "commenting" on your blog, well, you have me beat. All I got was a "don't be creepy" comment from a Team Canada female hockey player.

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  16. I really want it to be Joe, would be amazing to have him reading what I'm reading haha.

    both the blog and the comment is fair game.

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  17. BK, no matter what the numbers say, that memory will always stick with me (and I'm sure everyone else can say that same). It could've been hit by Candy Maldonado, and it would've been the same way.

    Daliberal, it indeed would be very cool, even if he is a little upset at me. Any press is good press, right?

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  18. I really doubt it was Joe Carter. You'd think he'd have better things to do. It'd be awesome if it was though.

    Agreed with your original post. Joe really doesn't look all that good in hindsight. Certainly not a superstar HOF type of player.

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  19. BlueJayWay, I'm skeptical, but the kid in me wants to believe it was actually him. Joe doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would read the blogs, but you never know!

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