Friday, June 1, 2012


There hasn't been much fanfare surrounding Carlos Beltran's return to Citi Field tonight, or at least not nearly as much as there was when Jose Reyes came back in April. I haven't heard anything about video tributes or whatever the Mets feel like doing for him. But I suppose it makes sense.

Looking back on what was an outstanding Met career, I can't help but feel like Carlos Beltran was really some kind of outside mercenary. He never felt like he was truly "our guy," sort of like the way a Wright or Reyes or Piazza was. We rooted for him. I always pulled for him hard, because for the majority of his tenure with the Mets, he was probably the best guy they put out there on a day-to-day basis. When he was good, which was often, he was great. He could carry the team for stretches if he needed to. There were stretches where it felt like he was the only player on the team who decided to show up for the game. He had great, shining moments. He also had some failures that came in rather glaring moments. He had his share of controversy, whether he deserved it or not. Such is the life of a star player in New York.

It's unfortunate, I think, that Beltran is remembered for the things he's remembered for, particularly his lousy season in '05, his sniping with management over his knee injury in '09, and, of course, that one perfect curveball that he didn't swing at. Many Mets fans I've spoken with also seem to have the sentiment that Beltran never really wanted to be a Met,  he wanted to be a Yankee, but the Yankees never made him an offer. This may be true, but he could have said "no" to the Mets in '05. It was an important signing for the Mets to be able to make, and although it never resulted in a Pennant or a World Series Championship, without Beltran on the team, the teams in '06, '07 and '08 probably don't get as far as they did. People got on Beltran for looking like he didn't care or wasn't trying very hard, or because he didn't say very much to the press, and I can't believe that to be true. Beltran just played the game with such a natural fluidity that maybe one might make that mistake. I can't look at any moment he had in his 6 and a half years with the Mets and think of an instance where it appeared he wasn't trying. I don't think there are too many players on the team over that time that you can say that about.

Unlike Reyes, there wasn't the big "will he stay or won't he stay" question. His departure last July was more or less a foregone conclusion, since it was clear the Mets weren't going to re-sign him, and so they were wise to get what they could for him (and Zack Wheeler looks rather good to this point). So, then, Mets fans shouldn't feel quite as jilted as they do about Jose Reyes. The Mets probably felt he was on the downside of his career, and it appeared most other teams did too, since it took a while for him to get any kind of contract offer. But with the Cardinals, of all teams, Beltran seems to have had a bit of a renaissance this season. He's returning to New York in the midst of one of those classic Beltran hot streaks that we saw so often. I really don't know how the fans will react to his return tonight. Hopefully, he'll get some appreciative cheers, which is what I would do if I were in attendance. More than likely, though, I feel like he'll get booed. He deserves better treatment. Unfortunately, he couldn't ever live the negative stuff down with most Mets fans. Hopefully, people will wise up, prove me wrong, and give the man his due for a standout 6+ years with the Mets.

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