Like 2007 and 2008, 2006 won’t go away for Mets fans…
Carlos Beltran has always been a player who has thrived in the big moment.
Except for one, of course.
He came up big in a moment for the Yankees on Saturday afternoon in the first inning, smashing a three-run home run into the Pepsi Porch to give the Bombers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish before even making an out against Noah Syndergaard.
He stepped into the batters box with the majority of the Citi Field crowd loudly booing him. As he rounded the bases, those boos only got louder and more ferocious.
“I get booed in Kansas City, I get booed in Houston. I get booed in Toronto, I get booed in a lot of places. It doesn’t bother me,” Beltran said after Saturday’s game.
But his resume includes heroics in the 2004 postseason, during which he went 20-for-46 with eight home runs for the Astros.
He also went 10-for-36 with three home runs in the 2006 postseason, with all three of those home runs and four of his five postseason RBI coming against the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS.
He has also been mostly remarkable in 29 postseason games since the one blemish on his resume, hitting .306/.410/.571 with five home runs and 21 RBI 118 plate appearances from 2012-2013.
He is one of the greatest postseason players in the history of baseball, and has been one of this era’s truly great and consistent forces for 16 years.
But Beltran – who also is easily the best center fielder ever to wear a Mets uniform and indisputably one of the five best position players in Mets history – is not remembered in Flushing for his countless accomplishments.
Rather, it’s that 0-2 curveball he took for strike three with the bases loaded and two outs and the tying and winning runs on base to end the Mets season, representing the last moment this franchise experienced in the postseason.
It really is unfortunate, for a couple of reasons.
First off, Adam Wainwright has won Cy Young Awards for countless other deadly curveballs – like the one that buckled Beltran’s knees that night at Shea Stadium – he’s thrown to wipe out the opposition since Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.
It was untimely and disappointing for sure, but not worth the endless venom Beltran receives for it, especially when the situation is taken into account.
That two-strike curveball was both gutsy and wicked. It would’ve fooled most anyone in that count and bases loaded, ninth inning situation.
Second, once again, Beltran is one of the best players to ever play for this franchise, someone who should eventually land in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and if he does, he belongs enshrined wearing a Mets uniform.
After all, the greatest years of his career took place with the Mets. He was a .280/.369/.500 hitter with 149 home runs and 559 RBI between 2005-2011.
Once again, that is easily the greatest seven-year stretch of his career.
Someday, he will also belong in the Mets Hall of Fame for his remarkable performance in Flushing.
But he is not a famous Met for the right reasons, and therefore such an honor might not be well received by the fan base.
Instead, he is to the Mets as Bill Buckner is – or was – to the Red Sox.
Perhaps one day there will be forgiveness for something he never really deserved to be blamed for to begin with.