Beltran’s Throw

During the ninth inning of last night’s game against the Phillies, Carlos Beltran made a throw to third base in attempt to nail Eric Bruntlett going from first to third on a single by Pedro Feliz. The ball got away from third baseman David Wright, allowing Bruntlett to score and Feliz to take second base.

When questioned about the throw after the game, on SNY, Beltran responded,

“well, I felt I made a good throw. David was trying to tag the guy, and the ball went by him.”

A reporter then said that something to the effect that people thought it was a bad decision to throw the ball to third in that situation. The thin-skinned Beltran then got even more defensive, answering,

“well, you’re not a baseball player, that’s why. Well, I mean I felt if he would had caught the ball, the guy wouldn’t got to second.”

Well guess what Mr. Beltran … I AM a baseball player. One who played and coached at a fairly high level. (Not MLB, but high enough — baseball is baseball.) Total games, between playing and coaching, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000. So I know a little bit about the game, and how it should be played.

First of all, Mr. Beltran, your English is horrendous. I’m not getting on you for your accent, but for your grammar. A word to the wise: if you are going to take a highly visible, $119M job in NYC that requires frequent interviews, spend a few bucks on a media coach. Buy “Grammar for Dummies” for 13 dollars. (For those who somehow find this “offensive”, get over yourselves. I slammed California-born Keith Hernandez for HIS grammar in the previous post — this isn’t about ethnicity, but rather responsibility as a publicly quoted figure.)

But hey, you’re not paid to speak, right? You’re paid to play ball. To play it well. So pretend I didn’t write that last paragraph, and let’s focus on “the throw”.

1. The situation

It was the ninth inning. The Mets were leading by two runs. There were two outs. With two outs, the runners are going at the crack of the bat, because they don’t have to worry about the ball being caught or anything (I added this for everyone who is not a baseball player, Mr. Beltran). Because the runners can run on contact, they have something of an advantage.

2. The hit, and ensuing actions

Pedro Feliz hit a grounder up the middle, into centerfield. The runner on second, Shane Victorino, is known as the “Flyin’ Hawaiin” for his speed and was running on contact, and scored easily. Also running on contact, but from first base, was Eric Bruntlett, who is not known as the “Flyin’ Indianan” but who has above-average Major League speed and a Stanford education. By the time you, Mr. Beltran, collected the ball in your glove, Mr. Bruntlett was about halfway between second and third — or around 45 feet from third base.

3. The Throw

It took you, Mr. Beltran, 2.2 seconds (I timed it) to get the ball from your glove to the third base area. For comparison, this is about two- or three-tenths longer than it takes Brian Schneider to throw to second base on a steal attempt. I bring this up because it was a similar situation — the runner was about halfway to the base, and you had about a 120-foot throw to make. In order to get the runner, the throw had to be absolutely perfect.

Unfortunately, the throw was far from perfect. It was at least four feet wide to the left (or right, from your angle) of the bag. It might have been six feet, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. In addition, the throw was, predictably, late. The ball didn’t make it to the third base area on the fly, but bounced about ten feet ahead of the bag. At the time of the bounce, Bruntlett was already in his slide, about two feet from the bag.

4. The catch — or lack thereof

Because your throw, Mr. Beltran, was short of the bag, was off-line by at least four feet, and took a tricky hop, it was difficult to handle by David Wright. Seeing the ball off-line, Wright should have forgotten about tagging the runner and focused on stopping the ball. We will agree with you that Wright could have, and probably should have, stopped your poor throw.

5. The decision

With a two-run lead, and two outs, and the runners going on contact, and the #7 hitter on deck, what made you, Mr. Beltran, decide that it was a good idea to throw to third base on that play? In what “book” on baseball does it make sense to attempt such an extremely low-percentage, highly risky play? Regardless of whether Wright lets the ball go by, the batter-runner and TYING RUN had an opportunity to reach second base, a.k.a., “scoring position”, as a result of such a decision. To retire Bruntlett, you would have had to come up with the ball cleanly, got a firm, cross-seam grip on the baseball, and made an absolutely PERFECT throw, straight to the third base bag, AND, Wright would have had to make a clean catch and a quick tag. All of this would have had to happen within 1.97 seconds — the time it took Bruntlett to get to third once your glove touched the ball.

6. The opinion of Mr. Beltran

In the post-game interview, you, Mr. Beltran, claimed, “well, I felt I made a good throw”. Did you, Mr. Beltran? Seriously, do you really, truly, believe in your heart that it was a “good throw”? Because by “good throw”, we mean, a throw that was:

a. intelligent; i.e., the “right” throw in that situation; and,

b. on target; and,

c. on time.

If you honestly believe that your throw was a fundamentally sound decision, that it was on target, and that it was in time to retire the runner, then, I’m sorry, Mr. Beltran, but you may have to consider another line of business. Baseball simply isn’t your strength.

7. The reaction of Mr. Beltran.

Mr. Beltran, we are willing to give you this: David Wright most definitely should have focused on stopping your errant throw, rather than trying to catch it and tag the runner at the same time. Of this there is no argument. However, we suggest that you reconsider putting the blame on Mr. Wright for your ill-advised decision and poor execution. It doesn’t make you look good to blame others for your mistakes. “Throwing a teammate under the bus” makes you look selfish, self-centered, and irresponsible. It’s especially tasteless when you make more money than anyone else on the team. The highest-paid person in any organization is looked to as a leader, and leaders don’t blame others — they are culpable, and willing to take responsibility even when it is not theirs to take. Further, by blaming a teammate, you are fostering ill will, and creating dissension in the unit known as “team”.

8. Conclusion, and advice

a. Watch the replay, and reconsider your decisions — both in the game and your position afterward.

b. Apologize to Mr. Wright for throwing him under the bus.

c. Look at the obnoxious figure on your paycheck, and use a tiny portion of it to pick up a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People

d. Think about those grammar lessons.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 July 8, 2008 at 6:12 am
    Fellow Centerfielder here, ‘Los — and for the record, I started wearing #15 long before you ever burst onto the scene (for Mr. Edmonds)……and your throw last night was nothing but stupid.

    It not only got by your third baseman — but allowed other runners to move up extra bases because it was so off-line.

    This was not a smart play, nor was it a situation worthy of defending yourself while throwing your teammate under the proverbial bus. To say that a member of the media “isn’t a baseball player” and point to that as “proof” of why you should be exempt from questioning?


    I wonder if you’d utilize the same line when you speak to Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Lee Mazzilli, and Harold Reynolds about the very same play. All former big league ballplayers who shared similar sentiment on it being a horrendous play.

    Smarten up, One-Five……..better yet, toughen up — you need some of that in this town.

    (And I love Carlos Beltran, for what it’s worth. He needs to take a hit here.)

  2. […] For more on Beltran’s throw, check out Joe Janish at Mets Today. […]
  3. debmc July 8, 2008 at 8:09 am
    Joe, I agree with MetsBlog: this piece was so right on, I also featured it on my blog today. 🙂
  4. joe July 8, 2008 at 8:57 am
    Thanks for the props, Deb.

    Walnutz, thanks for bringing up the fact that “real” players such as Mex, Maz, et al all saw that play for what it was.

    The truth is, I don’t care about Beltran making a mistake (particularly an aggressive mistake) as much as him publicly blaming Wright. For all the blah-blah about Jerry Manuel changing the culture of the clubhouse, there’s clearly still something poisonous in that locker room. Winning players hold themselves accountable.

  5. Walnutz15 July 8, 2008 at 9:21 am
    Oh, absolutely Joe.

    The idea that this team still has behind the scenes politicians — such as the idea of Delgado influencing Reyes to stand-up against Hernandez’s on-air criticism….little-girl cattiness such as calling out Wright in the media here…instead of manning up to a bad baseball decision….maybe a non-story — but definitely some hinted insight as to the “real” nature of the guys in the clubhouse.

    As stated, terrible job by Beltran…as it boils down to a poor decision to throw.

    He then blames Wright (granted there’s no reason for David to try to “make a play” there as Bruntlett was flat-out safe) — and yes, he has GOT to come off the base to make sure the throw doesn’t get by him.

    Either way, though — Feliz is going to second on that throw….so it’s just a bad decision by Beltran.

    Every once in a while he’ll make a play like that and you are left to wonder WTF is going on. Understandable, we know you like to showcase your arm, Carlos…but pick the right spots.

    That was a crucial point in the game, and there’s no need to let Philly further back into it.

    Sample response: “My bad, there — luckily, it didn’t cost us anymore from that point on, and we won the ballgame” — turn the page, move on from it.

    Non-story, but our guys don’t seem to be the most media-savvy…..they seem to enjoy making themselves easy targets for the media. And the media never fails to cash-in on little things like this. Never.

    Time to get on a roll, boys. Step it up in front of the home crowd now.

  6. jng July 8, 2008 at 9:39 am
    I agree it was a dumb play by Beltran, BUT Wright not knocking the ball down was horrendous. Why does he make sure to try for a swipe tag when his first thought should be to make sure the ball doesn’t get by. Both of them are at fault.

    And it is very low for you to attack Carlos’ grammar. All you hear is how he doesn’t speak to the media, and once he does people attack him. Its ridiculous. Do you speak another language? I doubt you do. I’m not gonna say I’m fluent in Spanish, but I’m conversational and believe me my grammar is nothing close to pristine. Lay off fool.

  7. […] ninth inning and most importantly his face time with the media afterwards. Joe Janish of Mets Today does a good disection this morning. Hat tip to […]
  8. Walnutz15 July 8, 2008 at 10:27 am
    Now we know why many Mets are running out of the clubhouse after games — because they’re not equipped to handle questioning.

    …….Not to mention, leaving themselves wide-open for more b.s. in the newspapers.

    Seems to me that anyone who’s questioned the accountability of many guys on this roster is spot-on.

    They seemingly pass the buck when they do speak to the media — and put themselves out there for even more criticism.

    P.S. — To presume that Mr. Janish doesn’t speak another language — and to label him a “fool” for his opinion is nothing but foolish on your part.

  9. robk July 8, 2008 at 10:49 am

    First off long time since talking to you…

    I’m in unison with everyone here on their comments about your post and I too was left scratching my head last night hearing these words that Beltran was spewing out in the post game interviews that even most, if not all high school players know what to do with the ball in the situation that was at hand.

    Was Beltran wrong? Of course he was but this is just another piece of an ongoing problem that is wrong with this team and how they are managed(re-enforced teachings of fundamental baseball techniques and proper plays) and the continued acquisition by the Mets GM(past and present) of such players(that aren’t fundamentally sound to begin with). The only refreshing words as of late come from Jerry Manuel, who unlike Willie Randolph actually tells the press in the post games that his players are making wrong plays when asked by reporters. He’s been very upfront and honest…what a concept eh…lol

    As you mentioned David Wright made a terrible decision in trying to make a sweep tag on a poorly thrown ball, when the correct play was to block the ball first and foremost so it doesn’t get by him…throw in Billy Wagner being very late at backing up the play(only made it to the bag as the throw was scooting by Wright) and you can count 3…count ’em…3 bad…simple fundamental plays botched by 3 different players on the same at bat.

    This is not an isolated case…fundamentals have been an achillies heel for a long while with team, whether its been running blunders by Reyes and Wright or poor fielding decisions by everyone on this team at one time or another and what you get is what we all have been seeing to date. Some very talented ball players, who aren’t fundamentally strong as they should be at this level of baseball.

    Hence…your .500 New York Mets.

    Hope to talk to you again soon Joe. 🙂

    Rob Karter-

  10. joe July 8, 2008 at 10:53 am
    JNG, welcome to the blog.

    I can guarantee you that if, for example, a team in Italy paid me $119M to play baseball, I would learn to speak conversational Italian. I’d have the time, money, and responsibility to do so.

    Perhaps it was low of me to attack Mr. Beltran for the inability to speak the language of his native country (last I checked, Puerto Rico was a US territory). It may indeed have been foolish, and unprofessional. Sometimes the lowness, foolishness, and unprofessional comments of million-dollar ballplayers who blame others for their mistakes bring out the worst in me.

    As stated before, I don’t care so much about whose mistake it was — I care more that Beltran threw his teammate under the bus.

  11. Aramos212 July 8, 2008 at 1:33 pm
    Why are you writing this column like some little petulant child? You want to criticize his decision fine. You want to criticize his reaction fine. Why criticize his English? It’s not his first language and he clearly is trying his best to communicate with the press with it. You know full well what he is saying so why insult him about that? You come across as some insensitive bigot who thinks everyone who cant speak perfect english should be deported or something. You think because you played in some beer and shot league that qualifies you to attack a player born in a Latin nation’s english? What a joke you are. I bet you probably stunk when you played. Loser.
  12. Massey July 8, 2008 at 2:00 pm
    Joe, your approach is to assume the role of a pompous and aggorant judge, using mock formality by calling him “Mr. Beltran”, insulting his grammar and even his character, and even having the gall to say to Beltran that “Baseball isn’t your strength.”

    And why are you addressing him personally when there is little chance he will read it? This style only further underscores your arrogance and obnoxiousness.

    If this joke of an article is any indication, Beltran plays baseball much much better than you write, it’s not even a contest. I don’t just dislike the article, but now I despise the writer.

    You can question the decision to make the throw, but this type of peronal attack is completely unwarranted.

  13. isuzudude July 8, 2008 at 2:21 pm
    Despise the writer? Massey, your reaction suggests that Joe just made insults about your wife and called your children wastes of space. His comments were directed at a baseball player, so chill out. There are many more worthwhile things of “despising” than a sports blogger.

    Obviously, now I know why Cerrone over at metsblog is constantly pulling his hair out trying to moderate his own site…because of jackasses who become the Incredible Hulk with a massive ego whenever they read something they disagree with. It’s amazing how blatantly hypocritical people can be when they get all defensive when some insults are directed at Carlos Beltran, but it’s perfectly okay for them to to say some nasty things about a person I’m sure they know absolutely nothing about. Since when did two wrongs begin making a right?

    What a bunch of tough guys. It’s very difficult to accept the fact that I’m on the same side as these people when it comes to rooting for a baseball team. Whether you agree or disagree with Joe’s pointed comments on Beltran’s use of the english language or his intelligence, responding with immature insults and personal attacks do nothing to restore order to the conversation.

  14. Aramos212 July 8, 2008 at 2:34 pm
    When you make that kind of culturally insensitive attack it will make many people angry and will make people lose respect for the writer. Are we reading it the wrong way? Maybe but while some superfluous insults can be funny, when Mr. Baseball J Jarnish takes it upon himself to attack Mr. Beltran’s english, it just crosses over a line. And it wasnt even a small comment, he makes it a major point to criticize his english and even belittles the Puerto Rican nation by pointing out that it is a US territory therefore everyone there should speak fluent english. The same way Mr. Beltran for no good reason went above and beyond by trying to gun that runner out at third, Mr Baseball J Jarnish went above an beyond by insulting Mr Beltran’s English, not to mention him trying to place himself in the same baseball playing level as him. Just shameful.
  15. joe July 8, 2008 at 2:37 pm
    Aramos, thank you so much for your opinion. It is a breath of fresh air. I apologize for coming across to you as an insensitive bigot. In fact my purpose was to point out that language skills are of utmost importance in a job where you are required to talk to the media on a daily basis. As you may know, a person’s intelligence and character are often judged by his ability to speak — that may not be fair, but it’s the truth. Where you get the idea that the post suggests that people who can’t speak English should be deported is completely off base, however. I do believe, however, that if someone is making over $100M to play in the media capital of the world, it would behoove him to spend a tiny portion of it on public speaking skills. That goes for anyone — American, Latin, Japanese, German, Italian, or Martian.

    By the way, I never played in a “beer and shot league” but if you can refer me to one I’d be interested in trying out.

    Massey: yes I am a pompous and arrogant judge, and obnoxious at times. These are the characteristics of a blogger, and traits that encourage conversation. It would be no fun if we all had the same viewpoint.

    I am extremely glad that you were able to decipher my post as a personal attack on Beltran — that was the point. It was in response to Beltran’s personal attack on his teammate David Wright, for whom he showed no respect by blaming him for his own mistake. You can despise me, that’s fine, as I have enough friends already. I pose to you a question, though. If I disagree with what a player says, and what he says displays his personal character, how is it possible to criticize that player without personally attacking him?

  16. joe July 8, 2008 at 2:55 pm
    Aramos, I find some fault in your evaluation, and don’t understand how this became an argument on cultural sensitivity.

    Because if you read the post immediately preceding this one — the one titled “Mets Game 89: Win Over Phillies”, I ALSO criticize Keith Hernandez, and recommend the same book to him (Grammar for Dummies).

    So, by criticizing Keith in a similar fashion, have I “belittled” the state of California? Or do the rules change because you don’t have reason to defend the West Coast?

    Bigotry is FAR from my personality, and not part of my agenda. Like them or not, I’m consistent in my criticisms across all colors, races, and nationalities.

    Funny how NOT ONE PERSON defended Keith in my criticism of HIS grammar, BTW.

  17. Massey July 8, 2008 at 3:12 pm
    Isuzu, it’s not a question of agreeing or disagreeing with Joe’s viewpoint. I’m not defending Beltran’s play or even his speaking skills. I don’t comment on blogs frequently, but I usually stick to the topic and try to be respectful of people’s opinions even if I disagree.

    But Joe isn’t really talking baseball, he somehow appoints himself as some kind of holier-than-thou moral judge–presumptively criticizing Beltran’s grammar, character, loyalty as a teammate. Once he crosses this line, he is really making a statement about his own character and so I despised him–at least for a few moments, and felt he deserved to be called out.

  18. Massey July 8, 2008 at 3:25 pm
    “It was in response to Beltran’s personal attack on his teammate David Wright, for whom he showed no respect by blaming him for his own mistake. You can despise me, that’s fine, as I have enough friends already. I pose to you a question, though. If I disagree with what a player says, and what he says displays his personal character, how is it possible to criticize that player without personally attacking him?”

    The problem is you’re jumping to conclusions based on one sentence. He was describing the play and not necessarily trying to defer blame to Wright. Maybe he was throwing Wright on the bus, but to conclude this based on one sentence is overly judgmental. Stick to baseball and stop trying to play moral arbiter, grammar police, etc. I’m sure you watch enough baseball to form a reasonable opinion on, say, Beltran’s aggressiveness at the plate, his fielding position, and so on, but these other attacks are presumptive, distasteful, and off-base.

  19. Taylor July 8, 2008 at 3:39 pm
    the basic premise of the post is wrong. Bruntlett took a very big risk by going to third. Beltran had a very good chance to get him there. His throw wasn’t good but you are quite wrong to assert that it would have required a perfect throw to get him. He gave you a 60% chance to end the game and take the win. You take that chance every time. Remember if you make a bad throw chances are still that the batter won’t advance to 2nd base. So, nice argument but the basic premise is wrong. He had a very good shot at the out.
  20. patrick July 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm
    You know, it was a bad play all around in that Bruntlett should not have assumed he could get to third, where he easily could have been the third out.

    While a terrilbe play by Beltran, I would have tried it if I was him too and seeing that clown on the mound who had thrown me and a couple of teammates under the bus more than once blowing yet another game.

    But moreover YOUR WEAK attack on Beltran’s “grammar” which has nothing to do with the situation other than being very trivial and petty is pretty sad and only serves to make you look “small”.

    And to Massey’s point, you are jumping to conclusions. Because I have seen a boat load of quotes elsewhere that position Beltran’s comment as “maybe” Wright could have blocked the ball, but he sailed it so he is trying to get the out, not just block the ball.

  21. joe July 8, 2008 at 3:52 pm
    Massey: Did you see the interview? Beltran was adamant in describing that he felt he made a good throw, and that the ball getting away was David’s fault. He was CLEARLY throwing Wright under the bus, without question.

    Maybe you’re a new reader here at MetsToday. We look at things from a different perspective. Beyond the boxscore. Outside of the news reported everywhere. I pick up on little things that others don’t, or dismiss as “non-topics”. It’s what differentiates this blog from others. So I may be presumptive at times, and base things on small sentences, unspoken body language, and similar details — these are often the “little things” that I believe separates winning teams from losing teams. To me, how a player presents himself and what he says publicly says something about his character, and further, a player’s character and loyalty as a teammate DO affect a team’s performance. I’m not getting press credentials anytime soon (read: never) so presumption is often all I have to work with.

    I’ll admit I might be off-base at times — possibly in this case (I hope I am). Distasteful though? Not sure that descriptive fits, but you have the right to your opinion, as do I.

    Thanks again for participating, and please do in the future. This blog is about fostering conversation. I may be arrogant, obnoxious, judgmental, and condescending, but I also am willing to listen to and publish others’ perspectives. Open forum here.

  22. joe July 8, 2008 at 4:07 pm
    Taylor, I disagree, because it looked to me like Bruntlett was already halfway to third when Beltran came up with the ball. But, as I’ve mentioned, I’m OK with an aggressive error. What bugged me more was Beltran saying it was a “good” throw. It wasn’t. Bruntlett’s risk was a pretty good one, in my opinion. He was running on contact and forced the defense to make a play.

    Patrick, I agree the bash on grammar was petty. I am petty about things like that, probably because I have a degree in English and poor grammar annoys me.

    Not sure about the boatload of quotes to which you refer. The quote posted here is a direct transcription of the SNY interview. Maybe I misunderstand your point.

    BTW when Wagner threw Beltran and other teammates under the bus, he was criticizing them for not being accountable. Maybe that’s where I came up with my presumptions.

  23. RockStar78 July 8, 2008 at 8:19 pm
    Bottom line, it was a bad decision. Beltran probably felt the game crumbling right there and tried to make a miraculous play to end it. He should have admitted the mistake though and not insisted it was a good throw.
  24. Micalpalyn July 8, 2008 at 9:29 pm
    u know 23 comments says enuff.

    The only thing i have not heard yet is that Beltran’s comment relays his passion. his 4 rbi indicate to me he is getting angry…at himself and is taking the leaders role. yes he was overly aggressive. then again his ‘mistake’ probably fired CB up….

    Wasnt this a passionless club 40 games ago?

  25. roberto July 10, 2008 at 1:17 am
    this dude is just a effing bigot.

    Perhaps it was low of me to attack Mr. Beltran for the inability to speak the language of his native country (last I checked, Puerto Rico was a US territory).

    wow just fricking wow.


    Bigotry is FAR from my personality, and not part of my agenda.
    I don’t know or care about your agenda, but you are clearly a bigot.

  26. roberto July 10, 2008 at 1:41 am
    So pretend I didn’t write that last paragraph

    never heard of the delete key?

    You wanted people to see your bigotry, admit it. bigot

  27. joe July 10, 2008 at 12:14 pm
    Roberto, apparently you don’t know what a “bigot” is. Buy a dictionary, or look up the word for free on the internet.

    Either that or this is the first post you ever read at MetsToday. If you had the diligence to read the PREVIOUS post before making outrageous claims against my character, you would have read that I also suggested that Keith Hernandez buy himself “English Grammar for Dummies”.

    Or perhaps since you’re not from California, you’re not offended by me criticizing Keith.

    At least I’m consistent – it doesn’t matter to me what race, color, ethnicity, etc., a person may be — I call everyone out the same.

    But feel free to keep posting ignorant comments!