Carlos Beltran is most certainly going off to see the wizard; his teammates know it, the fans know it, and most importantly, he knows it. It was actually a fitting moment at Citi Field on Thursday, July 21, when Beltran came to bat in the ninth inning of what is no doubt his last home game as a New York Met.
You may ask: what were the fans cheering about? Beltran came to the team as a much anticipated Superman, but we got more of Clark Kent than anything else. Many times over the years it seemed like Beltran wasn’t even in the lineup. Of course, that was true during his extended stays on the DL, but even when he was in the lineup, it was like he wasn’t there.
I, like most Mets fans, probably can never forgive or forget that called third strike from Adam Wainwright in the NLCS in 2006 that sent the Mets home. It was one of those moments etched in memory, indelible as say Bill Buckner’s mishandling of Mookie Wilson’s grounder in the 1986 World Series. Red Sox fans would never forget that either.
I was surprised by the applause and the standing ovation. For a second there, it seemed like the audience of Jersey Boys after they sing “Who Loves You” and the people stand and keep applauding for actors who are not Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It’s an incongruous moment, and Beltran walks out the door and into New York Mets history. I truly doubt he will be remembered as fondly as Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Mike Piazza, and Tom Seaver. He is probably stuck somewhere between Carlos Delgado and Bobby Bonilla; in other words, he goes into the limbo section where he will be mostly forgotten.
Beltran always seemed likable and pleasant with reporters and fans. He just never clicked in New York. Let it suffice to say that the best playing he has done for the team has been these last few months. Now he is a leader, playing with effort and gusto, and looking like the guy he should have been the last seven years. What a shame it took so long. How sad for the fans, the players, and for Beltran most of all.
Now he will be in a new uniform the next time he comes to New York. There are a number of teams still in contention that want his services. What will the Mets get back for him? Can you say Jim Fregosi or Pat Zachary without wincing? Hopefully GM Sandy Alderson will realize he is holding all the cards and make certain that he gets a good return on the deal, nothing like those meaningless “players to be named later” he got from Milwaukee for K-Rod.
We bid adieu to Carlos Beltran. Carlos, we hardly knew you, and that is probably the saddest part of all.
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