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Marriage of Beltran & Mets Fans Was Doomed From Start



By Mike Silva ~ January 26th, 2012. Filed under: New York Mets.

It was inevitable that Carlos Beltran would be asked about his New York experience one last time during the B.A.T charity dinner on Monday. “I’m not thinking about the fans, I’m thinking about myself,” Beltran said to reporters. He added that “we can’t bring 2006 back to 2012. It has been six years. If they want to continue to think about that moment, then that’s their problem. Like I said, I have turned the page. I have really moved on.”

These quotes are sure to stir angry emotion from Mets fans; a group that is so abused from the experience of rooting for their favorite team that it doesn’t take much to get them agitated. The reality is that Beltran, although honest and mostly accurate in his response, could have handled the question more delicately. On the flip side, the Mets have become one of the tougher places to play. This has nothing to do with the current financial state of the Wilpons; the heartbreaking failure of the last 25+ years has taken its toll and created a paranoid, negative, and angry group of Mets fans. They use to hope for the best and expect the worst, but now appear more content to want the worst and feel good about being in a perpetual state of misery. The experience by Beltran in New York will serve as a cautionary tale for other star players in the future who may be considering making the Mets their home.

The worst thing that happened to this franchise and fan base is 2006. That season was a mirage, as the team was nowhere as good as the final record indicated. They had a great core of offensive players in Delgado, Beltran, Wright, and Reyes. It was, however, supported with a weak bench, aging role players, and a still very thin farm system. The starting rotation lacked depth and was aging at the top, and for as good as the bullpen was, it’s hard to predict what you will get out of middle relievers from year to year. That was not a sustainable product, but the success of ’06 deluded the fans, management, and ownership into believing they were at the precipice of something great. Even the fortune of landing Johan Santana for C-prospects blew up in their face because of mismanagement of his health and the albatross of an expensive long-term deal.

The fans fell in love with that ’06 team. When it ended badly it was the equivalent of giving the girl an engagement ring and finding out she isn’t who you thought she was. They responded with apathy in 2007, and had their hearts broken again in 2008. Citi Field is going on 3 years old and there isn’t the slightest bit of energy in the ballpark.

The negativity and demands of Mets fans is nothing new. Since the “Worst Team Money Can Buy,” free agents are looked at through dubious lenses. The fear is the Mets have signed the next Bobby Bonilla or Eddie Murray, or traded future stars for the next superstar that has reached his expiration date. When you sign with the Mets, that legacy of pain and failure is part of the package. You take that on and have to battle that along with the trials and tribulations of 162 games.

Carlos Beltran didn’t know what he was getting in to when he signed a 7-year, $117 million dollar deal in January of 2005. He probably saw Mike Piazza, entering the last year of his 7-year deal, as a great example of what life could be in New York. Truth be told, Piazza was fortunate as he was nearly run out of town his first 8 weeks with the team. He started the year in Los Angeles, and then spent a week in Florida before coming to the Mets in a rare early season blockbuster deal. He was thrust into a lineup that had exactly 2 competent hitters in John Olerud and Edgardo Alfonzo. When he didn’t carry the Mets offense, the fans booed him after every out. Piazza looked unhappy and appeared ticketed to free agent riches elsewhere.

Something funny happened on the way to free agency. Piazza had a huge September and, despite the team blowing the Wild Card the last week of the season, was viewed by the fans as more a solution than a problem. His first two full years in 1999 and 2000 were filled with the playoffs and a pennant. In 2001, he cemented his legacy by hitting the most dramatic home run in franchise history post-9/11. If the Mets missed the playoffs with their poor September in 1999, would Piazza and his .248 batting average that month be the blame? You could bet it would have come up, and who knows how he’s treated going forward.

Beltran had all that going against him and some self-inflicted red flags. He came to the Mets because they were the highest bidder, but only after offering himself to the Yankees for $18 million dollars less. This was on the heels of the Scott Kazmir fiasco, and the embarrassment of another 90 loss season. Omar Minaya was taking over a team that lacked energy and was an undesirable place to play (sounds familiar?), and he wanted Beltran to be the core of what he called “The New Mets” or “Los Mets.” This was a huge focus at the press conference and probably put unfair expectations on Beltran.

Looking back, he would have been better off as another star in the Yankees galaxy. There he could hide behind the drama of A-Rod, the stoicism of Jeter, and blended in with the rest of the stars. In Houston, he would have been loved for the production we saw in New York. The Astros went to the World Series in 2005 without him; no doubt he wouldn’t have hurt that situation. Perhaps there would have been another playoff appearance as Beltran could have lessened the blow of losing Jeff Bagwell and the decline of Craig Biggio.

With the Mets he struggled his first season. He was booed the first week of 2006 and almost snubbed the fans on a curtain call until Julio Franco talked him out of it. His career in New York could have ended before it started if not for Franco. Everyone talks about the Game 7 strikeout, but no one remembers how the Mets don’t get there without Beltran producing perhaps the best offensive season in team history. They forget the Mets lost that series two or three different times due to bad bullpen management and lack of execution.

Despite producing All Star numbers every year going forward but one (2010- when he was hurt), Beltran could never shake that Game 7 strikeout. Never mind that Adam Wainwright flung one of the nastiest curveballs you will ever see; all the fans knew is that Beltran destroyed their dream season. The script had him cracking a Grand Slam Home Run to send the team to the World Series, but he didn’t swing the bat and cooperate with the story. Sometimes a foundation of “amazin” and “believe” deludes people into thinking players are something more than human. Facts state that Beltran couldn’t hit that pitch, but a fan base with a foundation of fantasy doesn’t want to hear that.

Neither side is right in this situation. Mets fans are making Citi Field one of the worst places for a star player to call home. A little bit of homework should have given Beltran enough information to see that New York was a good place to play, but his personality was more suited to being part of the Yankees than the Mets. Honestly, Houston was probably the perfect scenario. Despite all that, he lived up to his contract and performed. He will go down as one of the top 5 offensive players in team history. How many homegrown or acquired players have produced at the same level as Beltran?

It will take a special person to embrace this environment. They need a perfect storm ala Piazza to write a happy narrative. Maybe if it ends in a World Series championship it will pave the way for a new generation of Mets fans. Ones that are happy, supportive, and looked critically at what they have. It’s ok to be demanding, but a constant environment of pessimism and negativity doesn’t usually lend itself to success.

They say when you yell all the time it loses its effect as it becomes just loud talking. The same can be said for booing.

I think Beltran will see a difference this season in St. Louis. He probably will wonder how things would have been for him if he signed with a team with a more positive environment back in 2005.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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12 Responses to Marriage of Beltran & Mets Fans Was Doomed From Start

  1. kranepool

    Excellent post Mike you hit on every point with Beltran. He started out on wrong foot by going behind Mets back to woo Yankees and he never wanted to be the out front guy in the clubhouse.

    Beltran did everything you could have wanted in a player who signed long term the shame of his Mets career is he was enjoying playing for Terry Collins too bad it was at the end of his run with the Mets.

  2. Shamik

    Well written, Mike. I think the thing that made Beltran’s strikeout stick in the craw of every Mets fan is the way that game played out. Had it been a close game throughout and then Beltran strikes out, then fine. Gut punch loss, but it would likely have been forgotten. But what happened was Endy’s catch. Literally every damn Mets fan thought it was a sign from the Baseball Gods that this was the year to go to the WS. We all truly believed and to an extent, still do believe that had Beltran merely swung the bat it would have connected and the game would have been ours. That totally irrational, yet oh so human, belief is what embittered so many fans towards Beltran.

    Personally, I’ve largely gotten over it. To this day, I blame Aaron freaking Heilman for the ’06 loss than anyone.

  3. Kay

    Excellent as always…Never blamed Beltran, the thing always for me was that the catch was such a defining moment. In such a short period of time went from HIGH TO LOW, made the nasty pitch even nastier. Still cant recall about 15 minutes after the game, was akin to witnessing an awful crime.

  4. AV

    Excellent column. Thank you for stating the truth about Beltran. He has gotten a raw deal considering his stats make him one of the best position players in team history.

    You touch on a great point when you said, “…as good as the bullpen was, it’s hard to predict what you will get out of middle relievers from year to year.” Looking back at championship teams, almost all of them had bullpens that outperformed their own track records in that particular season (such as the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals).

    With that in mind, I personally think the Mets 2006 season was destined for failure the minute Duaner Sanchez got into that taxicab in Miami. Everything fell apart from that point onwards.

  5. Chuck Johnson

    “It was inevitable that Carlos Beltran would be asked about his New York experience one last time during the B.A.T charity dinner on Monday. “I’m not thinking about the fans, I’m thinking about myself,” Beltran said to reporters. He added that “we can’t bring 2006 back to 2012. It has been six years. If they want to continue to think about that moment, then that’s their problem. Like I said, I have turned the page. I have really moved on.”

    I’m willing to bet that’s not the entire quote, nor does it reflect the entire conversation.

    Sportswriter doesn’t like player. Sportswriter nitpicks quotes or situations to make player look bad.

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Beltran was on MLBNetwork on Monday and was very open and complimentary to the Mets organization and the time he spent there.

    There was regret in his voice that the Mets weren’t as successful and that he was hurt at time, but there was no disappointment in being a part of the franchise or living in the city.

  6. Cookie

    Chuck:

    Feel free to mix in a paragraph. Good lord..insufferable writing style to say the least.

  7. Joe Wenzel

    This has got to be one of the only blogs where people get their jollies correcting other people’s misspellings (most of the time it’s due to typing so fast and these damn small keyboards) and writing style. Unbelievable.

  8. Edgy DC

    Beltran was the best centerfielder the Mets ever had. There was nothing wrong with what he said and it’s largely taken out of context.

    In saying “I’m not thinking about the fans, I’m thinking about myself,” he’s speaking in response to the question, “For some Mets fans, seeing you in a Cardinals uniform might be weird. For a player, is that weird or is just about having the best opportunity now?”

    He’s not thinking about whether him in a Cardinals uniform is weird to fans. It’s not particularly weird to him. The series was, after all, several years ago, and he’s been traded since then. This is being receive around the internet in places like he’s stealing milk from newborn babies.

    What is wrong with people?

  9. APV

    Whether the comment was taken out of context or not, Beltran is right to say it’s time to move on. It took a couple of years for me, but I did so in 2009 after watching the Game 7 replay on the MLB Network All-Time Games series. In fact, the entire year 2006 should be moved on from. It’s been five years, most of the principal players are gone, Shea Stadium is gone, Reyes just left, and Wright probably will leave soon too. To paraphrase the Stones, that year is just a memory that used to mean so much to me.

    With that being said, it looks very bad to most Met fans that Beltran’s first game at Citi Field since being traded will be in the uniform of the very team that ended the Mets’ championship dreams in 2006. I’m sorry to say it, but any chance he had of getting applause if not an outright ovation went down the drain when he agreed to sign with the Cardinals. I totally expect him to get booed for that alone, not for any misconstrued comment.

  10. frank

    My God, terrible writing. The word is “takes a toll.” Not a “tool.”

  11. Mike Silva

    thanks for the catch

  12. Brian

    The thing about 2006 was that the Meta built such a big lead in the NL East partially on the back of Pedro Martinez’ first half and the 1-2 punch of Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner. By August, Sanchez was done and Martinez was not the same. The Mets lost the NLCS in game two when they coughed up the lead in that 8th inning.

    Unfortunately, Omar spent the next two years waiting for Sanchez to return. LoDuca was a one year flash in the pan and the rotation became piecemeal.

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