Before the season, I wrote that this could be the year the Mets take back New York from the Yankees. The Mets enter this weekend’s Subway Series with the best record in baseball and an 11-game win streak. I wrote about their perfect week, as well as an accomplishment from a former Met, an MVP matchup (the first of its kind in MLB history), and some fun catches in my recap for CBS Local.
The game ended and I had the urge to go to Citi Field. That’s where Johan Santana had just thrown the first no-hitter in New York Mets history, and I felt I should be there. It was like a pilgrimage, if a pilgrimage can include the subway. I took the N train to Queensboro Plaza, transferred to the 7, and rode the 13 stops to Mets-Willets Point. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do when I got there.
As it turned out, I walked around the stadium, took a few pictures, and looked for discarded ticket stubs (I didn’t find any, though it was so windy that any that had been left outside the stadium may have blown halfway to Westchester). I heard a couple of guys talking about their co-workers who had left the game early because of the weather (too windy for them?). A vendor was selling, in his words, “no-hitter programs” for $5. They sell programs for each series, not each game, and $5 wasn’t a post-game discount, so if I want one I can get it tomorrow, when I’ll be there for the game. Of course, I wish I had been at this one.
I’m embarrassed to say this, but I dreamed about Carlos Beltran last night. That, by itself, is not something to be ashamed of, especially for a die-hard baseball fan. The embarrassing part is that I woke myself up shouting, “We’ll miss you, Carlos!” It was one of those moments where I was semi-aware I was sleep-talking, but fell back asleep before I could really process anything.
Carlos Beltran was traded yesterday to the San Francisco Giants for pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, the deal becoming official today.* It was 7.5 years ago that Beltran signed with the New York Mets. Can you believe it’s been that long?
*Given that I’ve never seen Wheeler pitch I’ll just say, all things considered, it seems like a fair trade. It could be great for both teams: the Giants are hoping Beltran helps them defend their World Series title and the Mets hope Wheeler turns into a front-of-the-rotation starter down the line. But 21-year-old pitching prospects are unpredictable and nothing is guaranteed when it comes to playoff baseball, so who really knows?
I wrote about Beltran in the middle of May, noting he was underappreciated by many Mets fans. Since then, the internet campaign to make these people realize Beltran’s value has intensified tenfold. I wrote then that I thought Beltran’s eventual departure would lead to a case of “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” but as these last couple of months have shown, it’s been more like “don’t know what you’ve got until you realize he’ll inevitably be traded to a contender.”
I find it admirable, but sort of fruitless, that Beltran’s fans have come to his defense. Fans are free to choose their favorite players and it’s not too surprising Beltran wasn’t a popular choice. Fans prefer homegrown talent and the Mets have Jose Reyes and David Wright. After that, they gravitate towards the Joe McEwings, Benny Agbayanis, and Turk Wendells—players who don’t quite look right in a baseball uniform and possess maybe two of the five tools, but find a way to contribute. A great achievement by someone like Beltran would often be followed by, “Yeah, well he’s supposed to do that, he’s paid a billion dollars.”
So if you want to remember Beltran with his bat on his shoulder in Game Six, cool. I’m going to remember him running up that ridiculous hill in Houston. I’m going to remember him making Gary Cohen say, “We’re going home!” I’m going to remember “El Esta Aqui.”
Of course, el no esta aqui, not anymore. I guess my dream was fitting, because from the time I started following baseball to 2004 I could only dream of the Mets having a center fielder like Carlos Beltran. Now I can only dream of one day having another like him.