Let me preface all of this by saying I love Chris Carpenter. Like, quite a bit.
I think that he's one of the very rare players that are not only popular during their tenure, but will only gain popularity as time moves on.
Bob Gibson. Willie McGee. Stan Musial. These greats were loved in St. Louis as they played and are more beloved today. Chris Carpenter will be one of those guys. He gets the city, the team, the fans.
So, just what in the hell is he doing?
Yesterday, Carp showed up at Spring Training. The media was a bit caught off-guard, but his presence was a welcome diversion from the pitter patter of daily camp activity.
On Feb 5th it was announced that Carpenter would miss the 2013 season because of arm and neck troubles. GM John Mozeliak was asked if he envisioned the pitcher returning and he said "Do I envision Carp returning? I would say it's very unlikely, so, no."
Carpenter didn't retire at that news conference.
Us more cynical of the situation wondered why he would, since retiring would leave 12.5 million dollars on the table. As long as Carp went through Cardinal approved rehab, he would collect his money. I'm not going to say I wouldn't do the same thing… but the refusal to throw in the towel left a crack in the door for his return at some point.
A month later, Carp is talking. And here's what he told the Washington Post:
"I'm not going to have surgery anymore. We'll see what happens. I don't see it. With the things that are going on in the times of every day life, I just don't see it getting better to be honest with you." Asked if he wants to continue pitching: "I do, I just don't think I can."
So this is the retirement?
Carpenter seems to be having a hard time letting go. And for a guy that lived and died with games he started, I'm not surprised. But just like when Sean told Lindsay that he loved her while dumping her… this was an ill-fated public appearance.
Chris: get your money. Get every dollar of it. But if you're going to do it this way, then stop talking to the media.
You can't go in front of a bunch of reporters and tell them that you don't think you're ever going to pitch again, but not retire. Either you're going to make a run at it one last time or you're not.
Enough of being in the middle.
Trust me, we want to get on with celebrating your career as a Cardinal. And we can do it ASAP or we can wait until you make it official after the season. Either way is good. But it's not in anyone's best interest to muddy the waters. And then do it again.
Chris Carpenter has been great at reading St. Louis. But it looks as if he might need some cheaters to see his media work is missing the mark.