Remembering Carlos Beltran…
You think of all the Mets glorious moments. Or mainly the moments of pure luck. We’ve had our fair share of lucky in our fifty or so years. I mean, Bill Buckner. We’ve also had our moments of embarrassment. The trades that no one can forget (I don’t even have to list them). Then there’s the moment I won’t forget ever that haunts me every time I heard the following names: Endy Chavez, Adam Wainwright and Carlos Beltran.
Those names represent different baseball players with unique talents. Endy Chavez, a scrappy left-handed hitter and thrower. Mainly known for his ability to bunt and his blazing speed. You cannot forget his defense. Adam Wainwright, a tall pitcher with a good fastball and a nasty change-up. Carlos Beltran, a switch hitter, gold glover outfielder who can hit 30 homeruns and drive in 100 RBI’s. You put all of there names into one sentence it would look like this: Despite Endy Chavez’s heroic leap saving the Mets season, Carlos Beltran went down looking at an 0-2 curveball from Adam Wainwright, to send the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series. That sentence, no matter how you place the words will define Carlos Beltran’s career as a New York Met or as a ball player.
Kansas City Royals fans will remember Beltran as a young outfielder, who showed signs of excellence. A kid at the age of 22 who won the Rookie of the Year award in 1999. He was then traded to the Houston Astros, where he made a spectacular catch, leaping over the wall and robbing a homerun in centerfield. After his only season in Houston, Beltran went into free agency, where the New York Mets won the bidding war for the all-star caliber center fielder.
As stated before, Mets fan will remember the knee-buckling breaking ball that Wainwright threw to Beltran on 0-2. The power hitting star, who hit 41 homeruns in 2006. A man who finished fourth in the MVP voting. That is the moment us Mets fans will always remember.
Quite frankly as much as that moment haunts me, it is not what the Mets should remember Beltran as. Even though Beltran is signed to be a Met for another year, we can almost predict that this will be his last season in the orange and blue. He won’t be playing centerfield next season; he might play in right. Wherever he is next year as a Mets player, he will be heckled. The fans will let him know his time as a Mets player is now over.
We will not remember the 134 homeruns he posted in six seasons as the Mets centerfielder. We will not remember the 3 gold gloves won for his outstanding defense. We won’t remember his anthem as he walks up to the plate. We won’t remember him as the Mets best centerfielder in a seven year span.
Fans around the majors know the production Beltran used to put up. Because of injuries, we have witnessed the dying of a star. A man who has played a combine 145 games in two seasons. A man who has looked sometimes lost in centerfield due to a nagging knee injury. Those are some other moments Mets fan will remember Carlos Beltran as a New York Mets center fielder.
What if Beltran swung at that 0-2 curveball? Where would he stand as a Mets all-time great? We will never know and that is what is special about baseball. You can never predict what is going to happen. Sure you can call a homerun before it happens, but how many times are you wrong? No one could predict Wainwright’s curveball was going to be that dirty. No one could predict Carlos Beltran would stand up there defenseless.
As a final bid to Carlos Beltran, I would just like to say thank you. Thank you for bringing the Mets a stronger fan base. Thanks for reaching out to the Latin community of baseball. Thanks for snagging line drives in the gap from mediocre Mets pitching. Just a thank you for being a solid centerfielder in your time as an orange and blue.
I leave you with this quote. Special thanks to Adam Rubin for capturing these words.
“To me, it really has flied. At the same time, it really has been a learning experience in my life. Playing in New York, it really has been a great thing for me. I believe that New York, a lot of people say it’s the same baseball. It’s not the same. New York is different. When you play in New York, you feel more the responsibility of going out and performing well and trying to do the right thing all the time. Sometimes you’re going to fail. The difference is that in other cities, probably fans let go of things a little bit faster. In New York, they are so passionate about it, they are going to let you know when you’re not doing well. That’s not bad. It forces you to concentrate more, to come to the ballpark and prepare yourself better every day. It really has made me become a better player. I feel like I’m a better ballplayer now by playing in New York than what I was when I played in other cities.”