The Baseball Gods smiled down on Flushing all season. It seemed more than just a coincidence that as the Mets paid homage to the ‘86 Championship, 20 years later we were destined to again make the dream come true. The ’06 Mets played with confidence and swagger. David Wright was a clean-cut leader, an athlete your kids could look up to, a la Gary Carter. Speedy and much-loved Jose Reyes batted lead-off as did speedy and much loved Mookie Wilson. Paul Lo Duca had a fiery intensity that conjured up images of Ray Knight. Yes, 2006, just like 1986, was a mere formality.
Shockingly, as the 86 club had found itself struggling against an inferior Houston team, the ’06 Mets were also fighting for survival against the pesky St. Louis Cardinals. When Endy Chavez robbed Scott Rolen of a HR to keep the score tied at 1-1, it was clear this one iconic image would live forever in Mets folklore: Tommie Agee in 69, Jesse Orosco on his knees in 86, Endy against the wall in 06. It would be the one play that would shift momentum back in our favor and carry us to Detroit in the World Series. Endy’s catch, however, was nothing more than premature celebration.
One hour later, Shea was deathly quiet. Fans stared in shock as the unimaginable happened. Carlos Beltran –post-season legend, our highest paid player, the guy you’d want at-bat with the game on the line — was paralyzed by a knee-buckling curveball. The bat never left his shoulder. As I watched the Cardinals rejoice I stared in disbelief. Seeing is believing—but not in this case. At that moment, I wanted to leap through my TV and choke the daylights out of Beltran.
We were confident there’d be other chances, other post-seasons, other opportunities. But seven years later and the Mets have failed to come as close as they had that October night.
With the exception of perhaps only Gregg Jefferies no other player brings out more passionate opinions.
Beltran is back in NY. But he’ll be wearing pinstripes this time. During his press conference, when asked about the Mets, Beltran voiced his own strong opinion: “I can deal with 0-for-4s and three strikeouts and talking to you guys. I can deal with that,” Beltran said. “When somebody is trying to hurt you in a personal way, trying to put things out there that are not me, we have trouble.”
“You cannot believe the organization that signed you for seven years is trying to put you down. In that aspect, I felt hurt. I’m a player but they don’t only hurt me, they hurt my family, they hurt people around me. It wasn’t right, put it that way.”
Cue the Beltran bashing.
Here on MMO as well social media, Mets “fans” have resorted to insulting him, blaming him and using language that’s not family friendly. Yes, Carlos Beltran was our highest paid star. And yes, he was brought here to bring us a championship. However, he is not the first, nor will he be the last, to earn big bucks and not win it all. Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, Ken Griffey Jr, Ralph Kiner, Rod Carew, Willie McCovey, Tony Gwynn, Harmon Killebrew, Nap Lajoie, Craig Biggio and Don Sutton all earned huge amounts of money while hoping to lead their team to a Series victory. Yet, none of them did. However, these men are idolized as heroes. But not Beltran. Even though, in the next 10 years, he will join all of them in Cooperstown.
During his stint here, Beltran put up impressive numbers, compiling some of the best stats in Mets history. From 05-08, he hit 117 HR’s while plating 418 RBI’s and maintaining a respectable .275 BA. Only Keith Hernandez has won more Gold Gloves as a Met. His 41 round-trippers tied him with Todd Hundley for most in a season. His 127 runs scored is a team record. He declared one spring “The Mets are the team to beat.” And although his prediction did not pan out, wouldn’t it be nice to again hear that kind of confidence? From 05-08, Beltran’s most productive seasons, the Mets averaged 89 wins. In 2009, when he missed half the season due to injuries, the Mets won just 70. Coincidence?
True, it was Beltran’s stationary AB in Game 7 that closed the curtain on 2006. However, without his 41 HRs, 116 RBI’s, 38 doubles and 18 steals in 21 attempts, we don’t even get to Game 7, much less the post-season.
In the 2006 LCS, Beltran hit .296 with 3 HR’s and 4 RBI’s. By comparison, David Wright batted .160 with a .276 OBP and 2 RBI’s.
However, it’s Beltran that’s caught the ire of fans, He’s the whipping boy, the poster child of failure simply because he didn’t connect on a pitch that Stan Musial couldn’t have hit, a pitch thrown by a guy who would go on to be one of the top pitchers in the NL. But because he had the misfortune of being #3 in our batting order, he sucks!
By that logic, he’s in good company. Here are some others players who “suck.”
Has anyone ever sucked more than Mike Piazza? He made the final out not in the LCS, but in the WORLD SERIES!!! And to the Yankees??? He really sucks, doesn’t he? Let’s not forget the guy with the mustache. Yes, that guy. Keith Hernandez hit a paltry 231 in the ’86 series and after making the second out in the bottom of the 10th in Game 6, he promptly walked into the clubhouse, removed his jersey and was gulping a beer as teammate Gary Carter walked to the plate. I guess Keith couldn’t wait to do some crossword puzzles, right? And would any discussion about Mets who suck be complete without including Doc Gooden? Gooden lost 2 of the 3 games to Boston, posting an ERA of 8.00 and allowing 17 hits in 9IP. That’s an ace? He REALLY must suck.
Baseball history is filled with players who suck. Beltran is just the latest one.
In 1952, the Dodgers lost to, who else, the Yankees, in 7 games. Gil Hodges went an unheard of 0-21. One measly hit, one little Texas leaguer anytime during the course of a week and Dem Bums defeat the hated Yankees. Boy, that Hodges guy sucks.
But sucking goes back further. In the 9th inning of game 7 of the 1926 World Series, with his team losing 3-2, Babe Ruth was thrown out trying to steal 2b. It’s the only time a Fall Classic ended that way. And Ruth’s caught stealing took the bat out of the hands of Lou Gehrig! Wow, no wonder he’s known as The Sultan of Suck.
Piazza, Hodges, Hernandez, Ruth, Beltran. I’d say that’s pretty good company.
Carlos Beltran now joins many former Mets who spent their later career in the Bronx. Gooden, Strawberry and David Cone all played for the Yankees after establishing themselves in Flushing. Gooden, Strawberry and Cone all went on to get a ring while playing in the Bronx.
It’s obvious Carlos felt disrespected by the Mets front office. Join the group, Carlos. We’re fans and get disrespected by that same front office.
He was vilified for skipping a visit to Walter Reed Medical Center due to a scheduling conflict, even though he’d already agreed to appear at a charity event in his native Puerto Rico. Despite the fact Reyes and Wright also were no-shows, it was Beltran who caught the brunt of ownership’s wrath.
Can anyone blame Carlos for feeling unappreciated by management? In 2011, Mets owner Fred Wilpon called his own team “shi**y.” About Jose Reyes, Wilpon said, “(Reyes) ain’t worth Carl Crawford money because he’s always injured.” He called David Wright, “a nice guy and very good but not a superstar.”
And in regards to signing Beltran for 7 years/$119 Wilpon called himself “a schmuck” for doing it.
A schmuck. Finally! For the first time in years, I find myself agreeing with Fred Wilpon on something.