Why the Mets shouldn’t fire Carlos Beltran
The Mets clearly do not believe it is a moral imperative to fire Carlos Beltran in the wake of the massive sign-stealing campaign that has engulfed two major league teams and cost two managers with World Series rings their jobs.
That is their right. They also happen to be right. It is clear that Beltran did more than simply figure out the other team’s hit-and-run signal based on the way the opposing third-base coach twitched his nose. And he happens to be a manager now.
But he wasn’t then. He was a player then. And there has been no other player named in the investigation, only Beltran – and even then, only peripherally. If that was Rob Manfred’s way of shaming the Mets into making Beltran part of the punishment levied, it hasn’t worked yet. That means the Mets, at least to this hour, believe this is salvageable.
And it should be salvageable.
The worst part about this is the inevitability that surrounds this case right now, a snowball rolling down the hill, becoming larger and larger. Again: if the Mets want to fire Beltran because they are appalled by what he did, or if he deceived them in the interview process, they should already have parted ways.
It means they are stalling as long as they can. And it means, with a high degree of certainty, that the Mets are waiting to see how the wind blows. And here’s the thing: I don’t think this is blowing anywhere close to as intensely as they believe it is.
The popular cause to blame for all of this is that Beltran will be a distraction. To whom? If our world has taught us anything the last three years, distractions aren’t what they used to be. They are, in fact, a news cycle or two away from dusty old archives. Are Mets fans at spring training in Port St. Lucie going to carry picket signs? Are opposing fans going to bring mean banners to the game?
This aligns closely with another argument: the media scrutiny will be too intense. To which I absolutely must ask: what scrutiny? This is the only newspaper in town that employs multiple columnists who write baseball. This is the fifth column to appear about Beltran this week. Not one column has demanded he be fired. And that includes the columnist, Joel Sherman, to whom Beltran so brazenly lied when he was hired.
Guess what? Sherman and the rest of us have been lied to by the people we cover for years, from Andy “I never did PEDs” Pettitte to Bill Belichick and a host of others. Part of our job is parsing lies from truth, and figuring out who can be trusted and who cannot.
What about the rest of the media? Newsday hasn’t fired him. The Times has written some elegant stories about this issue, but the Times hasn’t fired him – and the people who run the gray lady’s sports section are usually more interested in what’s happening in Nepal’s Everest Premier cricket league than the National League anyway.
Radio? Most of the folks who reign in talk-show New York are Mets fans, and while some of them bought into the inevitability of Beltran getting fired, only a few (notably Chris Carlin) have called for his ouster. So where is this alleged wave of media outrage? Who exactly is trying to run him off?
Look, for most Mets fans, Beltran was (at best) a second choice. Most wanted Joe Girardi. Some wanted one of the aging B’s: Dusty Baker, or Bruce Bochy, Buck Showalter. Beltran hasn’t been on the job long enough to engender any kind of universal passion one way or another. But it is also hard to detect a groundswell of outrage, either, mostly because it isn’t there. Some think he should already be gone, a perfectly reasonable outlook.
Will there be torches lit and pitchforks grabbed if he stays?
Beltran must account for this. He must answer to this. That goes without saying. But the way this is headed feels all wrong. It feels like the snowball racing down the hill. If the Mets were truly disgusted with Beltran’s inclusion in the Astros’ cheating scandal, he should already be gone.
If they’re testing how the wind is blowing? That’s less easy to defend. But if they are, it would probably be best to be right about the direction of those gusts.
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