First night of Beltranzaa brings few gifts

Here’s Carlos Beltran’s first hit of the 2010 season:

Nice to see and good for Beltran for getting off the schneid in only his second at-bat. His later plate appearances were less impressive, but it’s hard to look good when facing Tim Lincecum.

The part that stung was the caught stealing, a few pitches after that hit. Ike Davis swung on the pitch, so I’m not sure if it was a botched hit and run or Beltran taking advantage of his perpetual green light. Jerry Manuel said before the game that he wouldn’t be sending Beltran anywhere, so I guess it was the latter.

Carlos Beltran — the Carlos Beltran we love and appreciate — never gets caught stealing. Beltran is a historically great base-stealer. Even last year, hobbled as he was, Beltran only got thrown out once in 12 attempts.

And yeah, maybe it’s just an unfortunate coincidence that this year’s first caught stealing should come in his first game back. Buster Posey made a great throw, after all.

But, well, I don’t know. It was a little bit sad, is all. Like the time Donny didn’t bowl a strike, right before his untimely death in The Big Lebowski. And for it to come at the hands of Posey, a player heralded as part of the next crop of Major League stars, seemed devastatingly perfect. Carlos Beltran’s run of being one of the very best baseball players in the world is probably over.

Not because of one caught stealing, mind you. Because he’s now 33 years old with an irreparable bone-on-bone condition in his right knee. Some things are just too heavy for Superman to lift. The march of time is a real bitch.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. Baseball players have certainly remained exceptional deeper into their 30s. And Beltran, even if he’s not the player he used to be, will likely still be a very good player whenever he’s healthy.

I just get a feeling we’re never going to see the player he used to be again, and that’s a difficult thing to bear. It was such a sight to see, that minimalist art thing he did. And even though I know having him back is best for the Mets, I hate the idea of new images of a lesser Beltran clouding my memory of such a wonderful ballplayer.

Greatness is fleeting, is all. And fragile. And that sucks.

9 thoughts on “First night of Beltranzaa brings few gifts

    • No, not after one game. After 1563 games, 33 years and knee surgery. And like I said, I still think he’ll be a very good player. But it’s hard to expect the level of performance we got used to before the surgery, both due to his age and due to the nature of his condition.

      • I think we can’t base definite conclusions on one game, but we can on the past year, and it does seem that his knees are going to be a major factor in his career from here on out.

        Lordy, that swing was nice to see again, though. Oh, I love the way he plays baseball.

        I remember a great Greg Prince piece about Pedro – he said, when another pitcher is getting hit hard, I worry about the outcome of the game. When Pedro is getting hit, I worry about the game, I worry about the rotation, I worry about Pedro’s career, I worry about the looming mortality of us all.

        I guess this is part of baseball, watching them come up and watching them decline. I don’t think I will ever not love watching Beltran play, though.

  1. That was depressing to read. Perhaps I’m being unrealistic, but I expect him to perform at a high level as long as he is on the field. He’s is such a “pro” on so many levels, and he strikes me as a very proud man. I just don’t see him taking the field unless he is in the position to succeed.
    And I though that he looked pretty good getting thrown out at second — that was just a great throw.

    I also suspect that he is healthier now than at any moment in 09 when he was playing through the bone bruises all Spring, and he played at an incredibly high level in 09 (except his defense was not as good). My only concern is how long will he be able to stay on the field before needing career threatening surgery?

    • I think he’s healthier than at any time last year, also. Just that he went for that steal – he said maybe he had too much caffeine before the game, but he couldn’t resist. I think that indicates that he’s not thinking about the knee.

  2. Don’t give up hope, Ted. Just watching those highlights you posted over the last few days made me believe there’s probably still some magic in them there knees…and we will marvel at his greatness again (if only for a fleeting moment)

  3. The one play that was a little disconcerting to me was the deep fly ball between Bay and Beltran. Bay was struggling with the ball. He seemed like we was expecting to be called off and Beltran was nowhere near the ball.

    Again, it’s only one game and there is a lot of rust to shake off. This iteration of the outfield will almost certainly be better than the one the Mets fielded in the first half of the season.

    • Yeah, that play was very disconcerting. It appeared to me that Beltran just figured he’d save himself physically and let Bay get it. If he’s gonna play like that, then he needs to move to right and let Crazy Horse man center.

      Having said that, it was his first game back and his first game playing with Bay, so I’m willing to cut him some slack.

      • I think the wind was just carrying it a lot, and it looked to be Bay’s ball from the get go. I don’t think it’s any indication of how he’s going to play center.

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