Your Leader Drives a Bus

beltran-outI’m not getting all the media hype about Carlos Beltran’s comments yesterday, and how it is Beltran becoming a “leader”.

Anyone who has played a team sport would not be inspired by anything Beltran has ever said publicly. Nearly every time the reclusive Beltran says something, he’s either directly or indirectly throwing his teammates under the bus.

Interestingly, the other perceived “leader” on the Mets — Johan Santana — has a similar method of public flogging. Just ask Danny Murphy, or anyone else who ever made an error behind him.

Sorry, I don’t find it “refreshing” or “motivating” when a player says he’s embarrassed about how the rest of his teammates played in two games while he sat home with a tummy ache. The media’s grasping at straws in an effort to find a story and identify the “leader” that doesn’t exist, and the fans are buying into it because they’re so desperate to find something or someone that suggests this club can get through the current storm.

Keep searching, fellas, and bring an umbrella. More rain is about to fall, to be followed by increasing wind.

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. Dave June 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm
    Though I agree that this doesn’t make Beltran the team leader I do think it’s refreshing to finally see someone say something harsh publicly compared to Wright’s usual ‘we played bad, we need to play better’ line.
  2. joejanish June 5, 2009 at 3:39 pm
    Dave, have to agree. Lack of a mouthpiece has been a major issue for several years now.

    I suppose that’s part of the reason the media is jumping all over this — it’s such a departure from what they’re used to, they come to the conclusion that the fact he said anything, constitutes leadership.

    Perhaps they’re hoping that if they spin it as a positive quote, Beltran will be motivated to speak out more often — and give them more stories.

    Or maybe it’s been so long since they heard a quote from a real leader, they’ve forgotten what it sounds like.

  3. sincekindergarten June 5, 2009 at 4:46 pm
    The jury’s still out on Beltran being the team leader, IMO. It’s one thing to do this once or twice. It’s totally another to do this consistently.
  4. isuzudude June 5, 2009 at 4:57 pm
    Whether Beltran sat out the first 2 games of the series or not, he is 100% justified in saying what he did. He’s still on the team even if he’s too sick to play, is he not? And he certainly backed up his words with his performace on Thursday. I think he’s showing some genuine emotion and frustration here, things we’ve been BEGGING to get out of Beltran ever since he signed his mega-contract prior to 2005. Now he finally opens up, speaks is mind, and shows some mettle, and he gets cut down for throwing his team under the bus? I don’t see it that way at all. This is the team with the biggest payroll in the NL, injuries or not. They still had Johan and Pelfrey pitching, with Krod in the bullpen, and an offense that was good enough to sweep the Nationals and take two of three from Florida and Boston. Beltran is dead right to be upset and to call out his team after they fell flat on their faces against the Pirates.

    If Billy Wagner would have said these same things last year, he’d be commended for it. In fact, I remember he did throw the team under the bus, particularly the players who didn’t like talking to the media. And even though Billy blew countless saves last year and missed a ton of time with a “sore arm” (hey, if Beltran had a “tummy ache” then let’s go ahead and water everything down), he’s allowed to call out his teammates, yet Beltran is not. I’m not following the logic.

    If Keith Hernandez would have said this in 1986 it would have been fine. If Robin Ventura would have said this in 1999 it would have been fine. If Tom Seaver would have said this in 1969 it would have been fine. So why do the same rules not apply to Beltran?

    The quote doesn’t qualify Beltran as a leader, but it does show us that he cares and that he wants his team to care. To me, that’s more a positive than a negative.

  5. joejanish June 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm
    Difference is, Hernandez, Ventura, and Seaver would NOT have said what Beltran did, because they had respect for their teammates and their opponents.

    And actually, everyone was on Wagner’s case for his big mouth. But that’s comparing apples and oranges — Wagner was calling out his teammates for running away from the media. Beltran flat out said that his teammates didn’t play well and that the Pirates suck. Slight difference. If I were Beltran’s teammate, I’d have kicked him in the teeth. The reason the team is losing is because every night, half the starting lineup is comprised of bench players and minor leaguers.

    I find it humorous, btw, that you cite the Boston series. Those two wins were absolute flukes, and had nothing to do with the quality of the team the Mets were putting on the field. Re-play those two games ten more times, and the Red Sox win at least nine of them.

    The only “mettle” Beltran has would be the gold fillings in his teeth.

  6. Ryan June 5, 2009 at 10:03 pm
    Umbrella? How about a shovel!
  7. isuzudude June 6, 2009 at 11:08 am
    Joe, I think you are way too hard on Beltran because you don’t like him. Thus, he can’t get away with certain things other players could. At the open of last night’s game, Keith Hernandez praised Beltran’s comments, which tells me if Hernandez were still playing and was going thru similar times as Beltran, he woulda said the same thing or soemthing like it. But I seriously doubt anyone would have had an issue with Keith speaking his mind because he was already entrenched as a team leader…whereas Beltran has kowtowed the spotlight in the past and gets knocked for throwing his team under the bus because we’re not used to hearing him say much of anything. What if Wright had said it instead of Beltran? Or Johan? Would it have been more acceptable then, because they are more qualified to be leaders, and more likeable by the fanbase?

    I don’t see this as being an issue about respect. Beltran did not say “the Pirates suck.” He said he was embarrassed by getting swept and that he believes the Mets are a better team. What is so wrong with that? I keep reading his quote and trying to understand what he said that was so darn imflammatory, and I can’t find it. I think, unless you’re purposely trying to get offended, nothing Beltran said should be construed as “throwing his team under the bus” or disrespecting the opposition.

    The point of bringing up Wagner was that he routinely inserted foot in mouth when criticizing his teammates, which could have earned him plenty of “teeth-kickings.” The subject of his criticisms is inconsequential. But I remember more people running to Wagner’s defense for ragging on his teammates than knocking him for throwing them under the bus. That causes me to wonder why Wagner gets treated one way but Beltran differently.

    You mention that the team is losing because they’re playing all bench players and minor leaguers, but that didn’t prohibit them from sweeping Washington, or winning 2 out of 3 against the Fish. So why all of a sudden is it an acceptable excuse against the lowly Pirates? Beltran still figures the team should be able to win despite their shortcomings. Again, I ask, what is so wrong with that?

    And fluke or no fluke, the Mets still won 2 out of 3 in Boston with a bunch of backups and minor leaguers. A win is a win is a win, and they all count the same in the standings, no matter how flukey they are. I’d prefer to win 100 games by fluke than 80 by credit.

  8. joejanish June 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm
    BINGO !!!! ‘dude, it took you this long to realize that I don’t like Beltran???? Do you think I don’t like him because he was rude to me? Or because I don’t agree with his political views?

    I don’t like Beltran because he is an incredibly talented player who only hustles only when he wants to, throws others under the bus, and regularly exhibits poor fundamentals. I also don’t like the fact that Beltran was given a salary befitting a mega-superstar, the type of money that’s given to a player who will put a team on his back and carry it — and in return, we’ve seen instead a very good player who has to have big bats around him and a strong personality in the clubhouse to guide him. So there it is, you caught me.

    You don’t see what was inflammatory about Beltran’s comments regarding the Pirates? Ask a Pirates fan. No he didn’t exactly say “they suck”, but his inference was pretty clear.

    You don’t see what was inflammatory about Beltran’s comments regarding his teammates? He said they needed to play better, because they lost the first two games while he was out sick. But they didn’t play badly, or lose because of lack of effort. They lost because they put a guy with a bad elbow on the mound in game one and because they had half of a AAA lineup facing a pitcher having a great day in game two.

    Keith Hernandez says a lot of strange things, and half the time it sounds like he’s following a script. He’s far from final word on anything, particularly as long as he’s on the SNY payroll. And if it were Keith or David Wright or anyone else saying what Beltran said, they’d get kicked in the teeth too. I have no bias when it comes to someone questioning my effort or performance, when they weren’t even on the field.

    ‘dude, have you ever played on a team, in any type of competition? Because you saying that Wagner’s subject of criticism being “inconsequential” makes little sense. In other words, if I criticize you because your breath stinks, or because you play your radio too loud in the cubicle next to me, it’s the same as criticizing you for doing terrible work at your job?

    As long as you’re going to split hairs over the Nats and Fish series, Beltran played in the first game vs. the Nats, and both Angel Pagan and Gary Sheffield played in both series. And you know what? The Mets barely squeaked out two of those wins in Florida — it’s not like they dominated.

    And as for the fluke wins, you caught me again. Yeah, yeah, a win is a win, blah blah blah. But no, I wouldn’t take 100 wins by fluke. So there we have another fundamental difference of opinion. I care more about the process than the result, because if you focus on and execute the process, you will end up with positive results more often than not, and there is a sense of accomplishment. This is not an issue that can be argued, you either feel one way about it or not. Compare it to the difference between building a business and earning a million dollars compared to buying a lottery ticket and winning a million dollars. A million dollars is a million dollars, like a win is a win, but I’ll take the former road as opposed to the latter. Maybe you’d prefer to hit the lottery, and that’s fine. Everyone’s different, it’s what makes the world go ’round.

  9. joejanish June 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm
  10. isuzudude June 6, 2009 at 2:59 pm
    Well, if you’re coming out and saying you don’t like Beltran, then I have to take every criticism you have for him with a grain of salt. Because you are more apt to try and find things he’s doing faulty than a player you have no opinion of or a player you like. I hold many of the same frustrations for Beltran as you do, but I haven’t crossed the bridge into not liking him.

    I see this very much like the Jimmy Rollins’ “we’re the team to beat” statement. No, Jimmy didn’t say the Mets or the rest of the NL East sucks, but we knew what he meant. And he meant that, in his opinion (players are allowed to have one these days, right?) the Phillies were better than the Mets, Braves, Marlins, and Nationals. Just like Beltran thinks the Mets are better than the Pirates. But Rollins gets praised for being confident and a good motivator, while Beltran gets knocked for disrespecting the opposition. I see absolutely no difference, nor the disrespect in either comment.

    And I’m not surprised in the least that LaRoche thinks Beltran has no class. They are opponents. They are supposed to not like each other. LaRoche is supposed to be offended by Beltran’s comments because they are directed at him and his teammates. But we’re not supposed to be offended by Beltran’s comments as Met fans. We’re supposed to rally around them and say, “hey, finally a guy with some fire in his belly!” But instead we dissect every little thing he says because he’s not as perfect as his salary dictates, and contradict ourselves for wanting him to shut his trap when all along we’ve wanted him to open his mouth and say something emotional. Now he did and he gets reprimanded. I think that’s where I’m most confused.

    Yes, I’ve played on a team before. In sports, at work, as part of a family. I understand the logisitics of making a team function and prosper. And I also understand constructive criticism. And maybe what Beltran had to say wasn’t constructive, and by no means do I think it automatically makes him a leader. That’s not my arguement. But, again going back to Wagner, I believe the subject matter of his criticisms is inconsequential because his motives were to throw his team under the bus, while I believe Beltran’s were to fire them up. Whining and crying to the media behind your teammates backs makes for a bad work environment. Calling out your teammates to wake up and perform up to expectations makes for a motivated work environment. But with that in mind, it was Wagner who was viewed the leader and Beltran viewed the disrespecter. Again, another reason why I’m confused.

    I like your million dollar analogy, but in the end, with life and with baseball, it’s all about the goal while the means is just details. In reality, the million dollars is just as real if you win it by lottery or if you work for it. Just like a win is just as real if you get it by accident or if you blow your opponent out. You may get more satisfaction out of earning your money/win, but there’s no less value in a lottery-won million bucks or a flukey win. Obviously, working hard should and likely will get you more wins than if you try to win by fluke, so I’m not advocating the Mets stop working hard. But just because they won some games close or won some games because of taking advantage of the opposition’s errors doesn’t mean those wins count any less. In addition, I don’t understand how the Mets get no credit for flukey wins against the Red Sox, while the Pirates are definitely “a better team” than the Mets despite flukey wins because the Mets “put a guy with a bad elbow on the mound in game one and because they had half of a AAA lineup facing a pitcher having a great day in game two.” Sounds like Pittsburgh’s wins came rather unconvincingly as well, so does that mean the Mets should feel like they should have won those games and be embarrassed for losing against a team who could only beat them if they won on a fluke – like Beltran is alluding? Sounds like you agree more with Beltran than you think.

  11. OL June 9, 2009 at 6:03 am
    In other words, joe :


    The End.

  12. […] Santana’s similarly selfish finger-pointing back in April (ironically, also of Murphy), and several comments through the year by Carlos Beltran are hints of an ineffectual, potentially harmful ethos evolving […]