Appreciating Beltran Before He’s Gone

NOTE: This is a post by Kyle Schnitzer. Please direct your comments to him.

“El Esta Aqui, El Esta Aquiii” the little jingle that gets stuck in every Mets fans head after every game. Who knew such a playful tune could have such a powerful meaning. “He is here.”

There is a saying (and a song by Joni Mitchell) that goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. And so it is with Carlos Beltran, one of the most unappreciated players in Mets history.

“Now batting number 15 Carrrrrlooosss Beltrannnn,” says New York Mets PA announcer Alex Anthony when the Mets outfielder steps into the batter’s box. And behind him, 56,357 fans cheering as loud as they can, hoping that Beltran can hear them individually. “And the 0-2 pitch; strike 3! The Cardinals are going to the World Series,” Joe Buck says in the most boring tone a broadcaster can say it.

Every Met fans remembers that moment. We were either at the game, at the bar, at our friends, or for me, watching Fox past my bedtime. I remember everything. My mom turned off the television like she usually does when the Mets begin to blow the game. So for her, the game was off by the 2nd inning.

Then a miracle happened. As Scott Rolen struck that 91 MPH fastball to leftfield, the season seemed destined to be over. Everything I knew from that 2006 New York Mets team was melting right in front of me. But there he was, little Endy Chavez making a snow-cone catch as he crashed into the left field wall. Jim Edmonds knew he was too far away from first to be safe.

I remember screaming and jumping up and down. The sounds out of my mouth were the ones that sound like you witnessed murder or your parents were surprising you with $50,000. I rushed downstairs, made my mom put on the game, and listened to Gary Cohen call the rest of the game.

And then it happened. Molina hits a homerun in the top of the 9th. Adam Wainwright, a nobody back then, comes in and gives up two base hits to the first batters and a walk. Carlos Beltran comes up to the plate.

And strikes out looking on an 0-2 curveball. The Cardinals win the series. 3 pitches was all it took from feeling on top of the world to being depressed for 2 weeks after.

Everyone hated Carlos Beltran.

To this day, I have never felt that low in my life. Thursday, October 19, 2006 will always be a day Mets fans remember. But do we really remember everything that happened during that game?

Do we remember that the Mets combined for a whopping 4 hits that game, 1 of the hits belonging to Beltran? Do we remember the score? 3-1. The lone run belonging to Carlos Beltran, as he collected the only extra base hit for the Mets. Most of all, do we remember the Cliff Floyd and Jose Reyes at-bats during that dreaded bottom of the 9th?

The answer is: No. I didn’t, I had to find a game log to find it out. Cliff Floyd struck out with runners on first and second. Jose Reyes lined out to centerfield. But does anyone ever blame Reyes of Floyd for that game? The blame gave always involves Beltran.

As much as I blamed Beltran for that series, in reality, the pitch was nasty. It was like jumping off the Eiffel Tower with 90 MPH winds. We remember that moment, but we forget about that rest.

Carlos Beltran has been an All-Star as a Met 5 years out of 7. He received a gold glove for his flashy defense 3 times. And won back-to-back Silver Slugger awards in 2005 and 2006. Yet we complain about his contract.

He’s hit 148 homeruns to date as a Mets player. Driving in 552 runs, stealing 100 bags, and striking out more than 100 times only once. David Wright has struck out more than 100 times 6 times in his 8-year career, and is on pace to make it 7.

It’s not a question anymore; Carlos Beltran has been one of the Mets most consistent players ever. He’s been the best Mets best centerfielder of all time. Tommie Agee and Cleon Jones don’t compare to Beltran’s caliber.

As the July 31st trading deadline creeps up on us, the reality is, Carlos Beltran will no longer be a Met. In return, the Mets will hopefully receive prospects that can one day produce as much as Beltran did as a Met. And that oh so familiar jingle, “El esta aqui” will not be playing anymore in Citi Field.

“Que Estuvo Aqui”

Kyle Schnitzer's biggest memory as a Mets fan is when Carlos Beltran went down on strike 3 against Adam Wainwright in game 7 of the NLCS. Since then, he hasn't expected much from the Mets. The new regime gives him hope. When he's not writing here, he's writing somewhere else, bussing tables, tweeting, or riding his bike. Follow him on Twitter: @dakyleschnitzer
  1. Profesor Reyes July 19, 2011 at 7:33 am
    Donde esta Joe…….
    Donde esta Joe……..
    DONDE ESTA JOE…..
    la-la-lala-la-la

    ::horns::

  2. Izzy July 19, 2011 at 8:20 am
    It really doesn’t matter if Carlos was better than Agee or not. As time goes by and memories fade what is remembered most is Agee making two great catches in a World series Game that ultimately led to the great miracle in baaseball, the ’69 Mets while Carlos will be remembered for his final whiff in ’06 and continually underachieving teams. Do you think the ’86 gang would be so revered if ’86 would have had the same results as ’06? No, Keith and Darling and Carter would be in the same mindset as Carlos. Unfair, but that’s the way it is.
  3. nick July 19, 2011 at 8:56 am
    You sure it was an 0-2 count? I could swear I remember it being a full count.
  4. Paul July 19, 2011 at 10:07 am
    The bullpen was the real goat of that series. Billy Wagner blew a save in Game 2, and Guillermo Mota and Aaron Heilman each gave up huge home runs. Beltran struck out on a wicked curve by a guy who’s turned out to be one of the best pitchers in the league. That series loss was definitely not Beltran’s fault.
  5. gary s. July 19, 2011 at 11:11 am
    I don’t fall for the you have to be a champion to be a great player nonsense.Carlos was the best player we had for the length of his contract.You can’t fault a player for injuries.Dan Marino and Dan Fouts were great QB’s who never won a super bowl.To me, they are still great players.He was great for the mets.I never blamed the loss in 2006 on beltran.I know a lot of people do.He will be hard to replace and missed by me
  6. Dave July 19, 2011 at 11:29 am
    “And so it is with Carlos Beltran, one of the most unappreciated players in Mets history.”

    I say that ALL the time. Very nice article, I hope someday the anti-Beltran army realizes just how great he has been.

  7. Joe July 19, 2011 at 11:33 am
    I still find 1999 a bit sensitive but don’t blame Beltran for ’06. In fact, I wish people would stop repeatedly talking about it, including whenever the Cards or a certain pitcher is on the mound.

    The turning point very well was the bottom of the inning after the great catch. After Perez had a performance that made him honorable until he lost it with help of a moronic contract (if the Mets let him go instead of giving him 36M, he would have been a perfectly fine pick-up akin to Maine being a toss-in and giving them more than enough), the Mets had a chance to go ahead.

    They did not and the ending was but a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop. As a baseball fan, I think the WS would have been more interesting if the Mets managed to get there. The five game series was of a piece with various tedious affairs.

    But, it wasn’t Beltran’s fault and blaming him alone is for me one of those tedious things raised again and again that really don’t warrant it.

  8. Timo July 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm
    The sad part of Beltran is he was our best Off Season signing ever. And people don’t like him. I tried to like him but he never lived up to his contract. he always padded his numbers when the Mets didn’t need him to be big. He was a true Met! I would like to sign someone who actually plays above our expectations who is supposed to be a superstar. We get the dudes. We’ll trade him and get dudes back, even though they will be top propects like Royce Ring in the roberto alomar deal. I predict that Beltran is the World Series MVP this year for the team that trades for him.
  9. Mic July 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm
    He is a future hall of famer. I hope he stays. I ‘ d rather trade dave wright and mike pelfrey then give murph 3 rd base but thats just me.
  10. Mic July 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm
    And thanks joe…
  11. John Autin July 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm
    Kyle — As a longtime Beltran defender, I thank you for this expression.

    Carlos had his ups and downs as a Met, but his standing with the fans suffered not only from the NLCS strikeout, but a few other accidents of timing (and just plain accidents):

    – His performance with Houston in 2004, down the stretch and especially in the postseason, created a false sense of who Beltran was at that point in his career. Counting the playoffs, he hit 31 HRs in 102 games with Houston, 1 HR per 3.3 — about twice the rate of his Royals career (1 HR per 6.5 games). (And look at the Houston lineup around him — Bagwell, Berkman, Biggio and Kent all hit at least 24 HRs.)

    – What’s more, Beltran was a different kind of superstar from the one who was on his way out of Shea as Carlos was trying to get settled in. His greatness was not concentrated in one or two areas of dazzling excellence, but in his all-around game — power, speed, average, patience, and excellent (if not flashy) defense.

    – Mets fans were not in a patient mood in 2005. After 4 straight years of irrelevance, and with our big star Piazza fading fast, we wanted … needed … demanded that Beltran be great right away. It was a bad time to have the only healthy “off” year of his career. And the fact that Pedro, our other big free agent that year, outperformed all reasonable expectations, only highlighted Beltran’s underachievement.

    – The collision between Beltran and Mike Cameron on Aug. 11, 2005, ended Cameron’s season (and his time with the Mets), raised questions about the wisdom of playing 2 natural CFs in the same outfield, and became a black cloud over the rest of Beltran’s season. He missed just a few games, and his presence in the lineup the rest of the year was a daily reminder of Cameron’s absence.

    – It’s a shame that one AB erased all memory of everything else he did in that series: a 1.054 OPS, 3 HRs, 8 runs. In game 1, his 2-run HR with 2 out in the 6th provided all the scoring in that game. In game 4, trailing 2-1 in games and 1-0 in the 3rd inning, Beltran’s HR tied the score.

    – The collective fan memory of Beltran’s series-ending strikeout might have faded if not for the sour endings of the next 2 years, as the team twice squandered a division lead in the last 10 games. In the final game of ’08, when a win would have assured at least a tie for the wild-card, Florida went ahead 2-0 in the top of the 6th. The Mets had gotten just 2 singles off Scott Olsen. After PH Robinson Cancel worked a leadoff walk, Jose Reyes popped out to right — but Beltran socked a HR over the left-center wall to tie the game. In the 8th, with the Mets again down 2, Carlos drew a 2-out walk to bring up Delgado as the go-ahead run, but his deep fly was caught.

    It wasn’t Beltran’s fault that the Mets collapsed in 2007-08. And just imagine where the Mets would be without his surprisingly consistent performance this year.