Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
TAMPA -- On Wednesday morning, when one good friend of Carlos Beltran's saw the back page of the New York Post, which labeled Beltran "The Godfather," he felt physically ill.
"I almost threw up," the friend said.
Many people around the game maintain a strong affection for Beltran. Even Yankees officials, who have been annoyed about Beltran's role in the Astros' 2017 sign-stealing scheme, have felt that the demonization of their former employee has gone too far.
Beltran has so far refused to comment on the scandal that cost him his job as Mets manager before he was able to begin. He did not respond to multiple text messages from SNY on Wednesday night, after The Athletic published a story about his involvement in the scheme.
Beltran's friends in the game are starting to wish that he would speak out, to add his own perspective to the saga. Perhaps, some hope, that day will come soon.
Yes, Beltran asked Astros employees for a monitor behind the dugout, and was a leading designer of the garbage-can banging scheme that turned into one of the biggest scandals the game has ever known.
But many former teammates and others who know him in the game have a hard time accepting that he would strong-arm any unwilling players into participating. They also note that he was of the strong belief that other teams were stealing signs.
"It's not like he's some gangster who would hold a gun to your head and make you do it," said one person who knows Beltran well.
It is true that Astros manager A.J. Hinch did not approve of the scheme. He began by muttering his disapproval to coaches on the bench, and finally smashed the monitor with a bat. It's also true that Beltran was highly influential in that clubhouse, perhaps more so than Hinch.
Remember, as manager he had not yet won a championship and was best known for a rocky tenure in Arizona. Hinch did not have the stature that he would later attain. Beltran was a highly respected veteran, beloved for his sincere interest in helping younger teammates.
Obviously, that ultimately led to breaking rules, and cost Beltran a job. The Mets moved on in part because they expected more stories about him to emerge, and that hunch has been proven correct.
A common misconception about Beltran is that, after joining the Yankees' front office in 2019, he told the team about what the Astros were doing. According to multiple major league sources, Beltran never said a word to the Yanks about this.
In fact, on the few occasions when his new colleagues would ask him about it, Beltran would shrug it off, make a joke, or quickly change the subject.
As SNY previously reported, the Yankees were caught off guard last July, when then-Red Sox manager Alex Cora appeared to imply in a news conference that Beltran was helping the Yankees steal signs. Cora immediately sought out the reporter who asked the question, Ken Davidoff of the Post, clarifying that he had not meant that.
That didn't prevent baseball fans from using the video as Twitter proof that Beltran was a cheater with the Yankees, too. It's easy to connect dots and make assumptions. But it's also important to be careful.
With Beltran and this scandal, the truth is complex. Hopefully, he will add his voice to it soon.