Sitting back and reflecting on Carlos Beltran’s time with the New York Mets, two moments immediately come to mind. One is of sheer excitement. The other, of sheer disappointment and disbelief.
In 2000, the last time that the Mets had made the playoffs before they signed Carlos Beltran, I was just 9 years of age. I was beginning to understand the game of baseball. I understood most parts of the game, but didn’t understand much about how the business of baseball actually worked. What I did know was that I was a Mets fan.
The New York Mets had already added star pitcher Pedro Martinez to their roster for the 2005 season. There were rumors around that Mets had been connected to Carlos Beltran. I knew that he had one of the best postseasons in recent memory the year before. I knew that he was one of, if not the most heralded free agents on the market that year. However, what I did not know is what he would bring to the franchise over the coming years.
There had been a deadline for the Houston Astros to resign Beltran. I had stayed up late that night hoping that the deadline had passed and that the Mets could sign such an outstanding hitter. I waited and waited and the deadline passed. Eventually, there was news that Beltran had signed with the Mets. I was ecstatic.
Flash forward to Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. I had been lucky enough to be at Game 6 the night before. It was a cold night, but the excitement at Shea Stadium was enough to keep me warm. This was the first time that I could really remember seeing the Mets succeed. I vaguely remembered the 2000 World Series, but this was the first time that it was real to me.
It was going to come down to Game 7. If the Mets won, they would be going to the World Series. Endy Chavez made “The Catch”. Everything seemed like it was going right. Then, in the top of the ninth inning, the Cardinals scored two runs to take the lead. The Mets had gotten two runners into scoring position with two outs.
Carlos Beltran stepped to the plate. He was supposed to be our hero, our savior. And then, strike one. It was followed by strike two. All of this time, I maintained by belief that Beltran would do something big. Unfortunately, he did not. Adam Wainwright struck him out looking, Beltran’s bat seemingly stuck on his shoulder.
Even five years later, this moment is hard for me to bring up. However, it is an important moment. Some Mets fans began to turn on Beltran at that moment. How could the player who was supposed to be our hero stand there looking at the pitch to end our season? The injuries in the following seasons did not help in some fans eyes.
This one moment has unfortunately defined Carlos Beltran’s time as a Met for some. This is incredibly unfortunate. Believe it or not, Beltran is one of the best players to ever wear a Mets uniform.
Beltran has the sixth best on-base percentage in Mets history. He is also fifth all-time in slugging percentage. Eight in Mets history in runs scored? Yes, Carlos Beltran. As if that wasn’t enough, he is sixth in the Mets record books for doubles, home runs, and runs batted in. He also tied the Mets single-season home run record in 2006 when he hit 41 long balls.
Over the past seven years, Mets fans have seen a player that comes around only a few times a decade for the Mets. We have been treated to one of the best players in team history. Carlos Beltran has left an indelible mark on the New York Mets franchise.
One moment should not ruin that legacy. Looking back, Carlos Beltran has been a tremendous part of this franchise. His contributions have entertained us for years. And now, it appears that it will all be coming to an end very soon.
For all of the hope, joy, and excitement that he brought to the Mets during your time with the teams, it is only right to thank Carlos Beltran.