The Mets clearly do not believe that it is a moral imperative to fire Carlos Beltrán in the wake of the massive campaign of theft of posters that has involved two major league teams and cost two managers with world series.
That is your right. They also happen to be Right. It is clear that Beltran did more than simply discover the other team’s blow and leak signal based on the way the opposing third base coach moved his nose. And it turns out to be a manager now.
But it was not like that. He was a player then. And there has been no other player named in the investigation, only Beltrán, and even then, only peripherally. If that was the way Rob Manfred embarrassed the Mets to make Beltrán part of the punishment imposed, it still has not worked. That means the Mets, at least until this time, believe this is salvageable.
And it should be salvageable.
The worst part of this is the inevitability surrounding this case at this time, a snowball rolling downhill, becoming bigger and bigger. Again: if the Mets want to fire Beltrán because they are horrified by what he did, or if he cheated them in the interview process, they should have already separated.
It means they stagnate 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 as close as they think.
The popular cause of the blame for all this is that Beltran will be a distraction. To who? If our world has taught us something in the last three years, distractions are not what they used to be. In fact, they are one or two news cycles of old and dusty files. Will Mets fans in spring training in Port St. Lucie carry picket posters? Will adversary fans bring bad banners to the game?
This is closely aligned with another argument: media scrutiny will be too intense. To which I must ask absolutely: what scrutiny? This is the only newspaper in the city that employs several columnists who write baseball. This is the fifth column that appears on Beltrán this week. No column has demanded to be fired. And that includes the columnist, Joel Sherman, whom Beltran lied shamelessly when he was hired.
Guess what? Sherman and the rest of us have lied to us for the people we covered for years, from Andy “Never did PED” Pettitte to Bill Belichick and many others. Part of our job is to analyze the lies of truth and discover who can be reliable and who cannot.
What about the rest of the media? Newsday has not fired him. The Times has written some fancy stories on this subject, but the Times has not fired him, and the people who run the Gray Lady’s sports section are generally more interested in what is happening in Nepal’s Everest Premier cricket league. than the National League anyway.
Radio? Most of the people who reign in the New York talk show are fans of the Mets, and although some of them accepted the inevitability of Beltrán’s dismissal, only a few (especially Chris Carlin) have asked for his expulsion. So where is this supposed wave of media outrage? Who exactly is trying to run away from him?
Look, for most Mets fans, Beltrán was (at best) a second option. What Joe Girardi wanted most. Some wanted one of the old B: Dusty Baker, or Bruce Bochy, Buck Showalter. Beltran has not been at work long enough to engender any kind of universal passion in one way or another. But it is also difficult to detect a wave of indignation, especially since it is not there. Some think that it should have already left, a perfectly reasonable perspective.
Will there be burning torches and hanging jibs if it stays?
Beltran must realize this. He must answer this. That goes without saying. But the way this is addressed feels completely bad. It feels like the snowball running downhill. If the Mets were really upset with the inclusion of Beltran in the Astros trap scandal, he should have already left.
If you are testing how the wind blows? That is less easy to defend. But if they are, it would probably be better to be right about the direction of those bursts.