Beltran Wearing A Mets Cap On His Hall of Fame Plaque Isn’t a Guarantee
Now that Carlos Beltran has officially retired, the Hall of Fame discussions can now begin. In the case of Beltran, one of the Top 10 centerfielders of all-time and the best Puerto Rican baseball player not named Roberto Clemente, the discussion for him is not whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Rather, the discussion is what cap he will wear when he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.
As we learned from Gary Carter, Beltran is not going to be able to just pick whatever hat he wants. This means no Astros, despite him winning the World Series there, and no Cardinals, where he cemented his place in Cooperstown. Unless the Hall of Fame invokes the Reggie Jackson, you can go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee regardless of tenure with them, Beltran is going to have three choices: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) Blank.
Under normal circumstances, the case for the Mets should be quite easy with him playing more games in a Mets uniform than with any other team. Beltran had his best years in Queens posting 31.3 of his 69.8 career WAR with the team. He won all of his Gold Gloves with the Mets, and five of his nine All Star appearances came as a member of the Mets. Some of his greatest highlights (and lowlights) came with the Mets. In many ways, his entire career is defined by what he did with the Mets.
With this being the Mets, this isn’t normal circumstances. There are indications this was and continues to be a very strained relationship.
The biggest indication of this was the fight over Beltran’s 2010 knee surgery. It created a he said – she said situation where Boras insisted the Mets were informed, and the Mets acted as if they were blindsided. For younger fans, the perfect analogy to this was the hysteria surrounding Matt Harvey and his innings limits during the 2015 season.
Beltran had knee problems for two seasons, and when push came to shove, he had the surgery upon the recommendation of a world class knee surgeon. The Mets position was Beltran needed to clear medical decisions through them. As the New York Post reported, “the Mets are claiming this was done without clearance and that the Mets are threatening to take some form of action.”
Action never came, but the bad feelings persisted. Much of that can be directly attributed to Fred Wilpon’s interview with the New Yorker:
At one point, I mentioned to Wilpon the theory that the Mets might be cursed. He gave a sort of half laugh, and said, “You mean”—and then pantomimed a checked swing of the bat.
When Carlos Beltran came up, I mentioned his prodigious post-season with the Astros in 2004, when he hit eight home runs, just before he went to the Mets as a free agent. Wilpon laughed, not happily. “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series,” he said, referring to himself. In the course of playing out his seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets, Beltran, too, has been hobbled by injuries. “He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”
Wilpon reportedly apologized, and Beltran being the man he was accepted said apology.
After that, the Mets did give him the perfunctory video montage his first game back at Citi Field. However, that was about it from the team.
Immediately after being traded from the Mets, Beltran’s number 15 was immediately assigned to Val Pascucci, and it has been assigned to Fred Lewis, Travis d’Arnaud, Bob Geren, and Matt Reynolds. This was not done with Mike Piazza‘s 31 or Tom Seaver‘s 41. In sum, the Mets not taking the number out of circulation indicates the team had no intentions of retiring the number. That’s odd considering Beltran’s Hall of Fame resume and tenure with the Mets.
It’s also odd how long it took the Mets to acknowledge Beltran’s retirement and to provide well wishes to one of the best players in their history:
Beltran Announcement: 11:32
Congratulatory responses as follows
Yankees – 11:50
Royals – 12:13
Astros – 12:17
Rangers – 12:25
Cardinals – 1:00
Mets – 3:08
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) November 14, 2017
In that time frame, the Mets wished Hasdrubal Cabrera a Happy Birthday, corrected the tweet to say Asdrubal Cabrera, and tweeted the April 15 glove promotion. The silence on Beltran was almost deafening.
It seems to be symbolic on a frost between both sides as evidenced in Beltran’s Players’ Tribune piece. Beltran talked about getting called up and breaking into the majors with the Royals. He waxed poetic about tips he received from Reggie Jackson during his time with the Yankees. He spoke about the championship run with the Astros. As for the Mets, he mentioned getting traded in 2011. Overall, there wasn’t any quip about something positive that happened to him during his time in Flushing.
There could be many reasons for that, but given the history between the two sides, it doesn’t seem accidental.
Overall, there seems to be some chasm between the Mets and Beltran. It’s a real shame too because Beltran’s Hall of Fame case was built during his time with the Mets. For the Mets, they have not had many players as great as Beltran in their history. Beltran is definitively their best center fielder, and quite possibly, the best outfielder in their history.
Five years from now, when Beltran is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he should be talking about wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, and the Mets should be planning a number retirement ceremony. Based upon what we’ve seen over the past few years, that doesn’t seem as much of a certainty as it should.
The good news is that there’s still time for the Mets to sell Beltran on wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. That starts with the easiest decision imaginable with the team inducting him into their own Hall of Fame. It would also behoove them to take 15 out of circulation. This is just a step, but an important one – one the Mets need to do if they want to add a third Hall of Famer to the legacy of the New York Mets organization.