Growing up in the 80's, being a Pirates fan meant that I really, really, really hated the New York Mets--Muck the Fets--and the Met player that I could not stand the most was catcher Gary Carter. Yes, despite the fact that those Mets teams had goofballs on their roster like Keith Hernandez, Lenny Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, Carter was always up there on my list of Mets that I could not stand.
He just seemed obnoxious with his constant smile and enthusiasm, and I always wanted the Pirates to wipe that smile off of his face. Unfortunately, for the better part of the 80's, the Pirates made Gary Carter smile a lot as they were the Mets whipping boys year in and year out.
It wasn't until years later, when Carter was out of baseball, that I realized how much of a nice guy he was, and how that smile and enthusiasm came from a true love for, not only baseball, but life in-general.
It just goes to show you that when we hate an athlete from an opposing team, more often than not, we're basically just hating the uniform and don't really know the player who wears it.
As a 39 year old man, if I had to do it all over again, I'd probably have more respect for Gary Carter if he were playing today. He played the game of baseball with the kind of attitude that most players in any sport should have. He acted like he was one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to do what he was doing.
If Major League Baseball was filled with more Gary Carters, perhaps, it would still be our national past time.