Thought you’d like to know [WFAN host Mark] Malusis just actually said on air that the only reason Beltran is moving to RF is to have a better offensive year for his next contract and it could be looked at as a selfish act.
– Jared, via email.
I’m not out to pick on Malusis here; he’s a nice dude and it’s a well-known fact that the last question of every WFAN employment interview is: “How selfish is Carlos Beltran?” And if the prospective talk-radio host says, “unselfish,” he is ushered out the door, even if he has the voice of Casey Kasem with the knowledge of Ken Jennings and the charisma of Winston Churchill.
I’m sick of arguing about Beltran’s supposed selfishness with other people who do not know Beltran personally (as I don’t); it is a frustrating and pointless exercise. I can point to the way he has mentored Angel Pagan, and how Lucas Duda specifically named Beltran as the guy who helped him when he came up and struggled, and, of course, how Beltran just moved to right field yesterday to make Terry Collins’ life easier and the team better.
But you can just counter that Beltran is consciously building his reputation as a good clubhouse guy and (as Malusis did) switching to right field to improve his chances of getting a big contract this offseason. And then we can debate whether there’s really even such a thing as an unselfish act, since anything we do that could be viewed as unselfish we really do because it makes us feel better about ourselves, and so it is maybe in some way also selfish.
Here’s the good news about baseball: Being selfish helps.
Concerning yourself with bettering your own numbers in the NBA or the NFL means you’re very likely trying to take opportunities away from your teammates. Concerning yourself with bettering your own numbers in baseball means you’re very likely giving your teammates more opportunities — because you’re getting on-base more and driving in more runs — and, more importantly, those numbers you’re compiling are helping your team win games.
If Carlos Beltran wants to get as many at-bats as he can and make the most of every single one, yeah, ahh, maybe that makes him selfish. How that distinguishes him from any other player in baseball, I do not know.
If there were any real evidence from the clubhouse that Beltran’s supposedly selfish behavior or aloof demeanor bothered his teammates, there might be some way to justify the endless bluster aimed at him. But what he does is the opposite of that. I just watched him and Pagan take batting practice in a group of Mets outfielders. They took the field together, then sat together while the other guys hit, chattering the whole time. Then they walked together to the back fields for baserunning practice. They are like Batman and Robin. Did anyone ever accuse Batman of being selfish?
He doesn’t care about Gotham; he just wants to see his symbol in the sky and his name in the papers.
OK, I’m arguing now with people who have already made up their minds and don’t want to hear it, so I’ll stop.
But about the batting practice: Beltran is crushing the ball. Again, I’m not a scout or a coach or any sort of professional talent evaluator, but I can count, and it wasn’t hard to see how many more home runs Beltran was hitting than the rest of the lot — a group that included Pagan, Jason Bay and Scott Hairston, and later Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans.
I only saw Beltran batting right-handed today — I’m not sure if he hit lefty before I got there or took the day off from that side. At one point, Beltran hit four out of five pitches out of park in one turn. His homers battered the scoreboard here at Digital Domain Park multiple times. He looked great.
Of course, it’s only batting practice in Spring Training, so it doesn’t count twice over. As for running the bases: Beltran didn’t look overwhelmingly Beltran-ish. He clearly was not going all-out, though, and there was no noticeable limp or anything. For the millionth time, I’m not really qualified to make these evaluations; he wasn’t running as fast as Hairston or Pagan, that I can promise.