Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
As he did his work on the field in Port St. Lucie on Wednesday, charming fantasy campers and huddling with staff, Carlos Beltran carried around a sadness perceptible to others. His friends in the organization felt it, too -- bummed, perhaps angry, and in disbelief that a promising career was about to end before it started.
There was a path forward for the Mets and Beltran. He could have held a news conference to apologize for his role in the historic Houston Astros cheating scandal. The team could have noted that Beltran was a player in 2017 -- not a team official like GM Jeff Luhnow, manager A.J. Hinch, and bench coach Alex Cora.
The only development that would have made it truly necessary to fire Beltran would have been if he lied to the team. But, according to the Mets' statement, " We believe that Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. "
So why did this have to happen?
As a player, Beltran was not privy to the memos and directives issued by the commissioner's office to front offices. He was not punished by the league this week, as Luhnow and Hinch were, and Cora and perhaps Red Sox former president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski soon will be.
Now, the Mets and their fans are forced to deal with a crisis that was not their fault. It's not fair to anyone, and it's a sad day for the human beings impacted by it.
Less than four months ago, many in the public felt energized and excited by the Beltran hire. He was an iconic figure -- the best position player in the history of the franchise -- who declined other opportunities because he wanted to manage the Mets.
He commanded any room that he entered, and was so popular among peers that he convinced Dellin Betances to leave money on the table elsewhere to sign with the Mets.
We didn't know if he would be a good manager, but we knew he had a chance to be. He cared -- cares -- for people as deeply as anyone in the game. He left a comfortable life and cushy job with the Yankees to take on the grind of a managerial job, mostly because he loves baseball and wants to help people who play it.
As a personal aside, he might be the most earnest man I've ever met. He would have been deeply engaged in the lives of his players, commanded their respect in a way few can, and created a strong clubhouse culture.
If you're a Mets fan -- or one of the Mets officials who loves Beltran -- you could be forgiven for shaking your fist at the sky and wondering why he had to ask for that camera feed in Houston nearly three years ago.
But he did. He requested a TV that would make in-game electronic sign stealing easier. That tied him into perhaps the biggest scandal since the Chicago "Black Sox" conspired to throw a World Series more than 100 years ago.
What a damn shame. This could have been great.