By Mike Steffanos
Yes, I know, you were ready to embrace Carlos Beltran last night, after jumping on him from the get-go in 2006. Carlos was mad at you, and not ready to kiss and make up right away. What the heck is the matter with this guy?
I've been a Mets fan for a long time, and I'm almost shocked by the undercurrent of nastiness that has taken over at Shea. Yes, Beltran makes a lot of money. Get over it. He hasn't lived up to his contract, and probably never will. You can talk intangibles all you want, but it's the tangibles that earn those $100+ million contracts, and Beltran doesn't bring enough of those to the table. Besides that, he's a quiet, religious kid who lacks the huge personality that commands attention in the big city. He plays with a smooth, effortless style that lacks the theatrical type of hustle that endears itself to fans. He'll never be that $17 million guy.
It's a new year, however, and this is a good team that needs Carlos Beltran to perform to fulfill its potential. Would it kill you to try to get behind him, at least for a while? Not just curtain calls when he hits a home run, but just lay off when he comes up short. This is a guy that played hurt last year, who passed up on surgery after the collision because the team needed him and he wanted to prove to you that he cared. Give him a break for a month or two and see what happens. Unless the booing has become so important to you that you can't let it go.
I know when I write something like this it's going to generate a lot of negative response from those that feel that it is "their right" to boo. All I'm asking is for you to think about it. In the words of Carlos Beltran:
Put it this way: I'm a friend not just when you're doing well, also when you're not doing well. I'll be there for you. Here is different. Interpret that any way you want to.
It's pretty easy to cheer a guy when he's going well, sometimes being a real fan is trying to build a guy up when he isn't. This isn't Mo Vaughn, people, give him a break.
Bergen Record: You're Kidding, Right?
Bob Klapisch, who I enjoy reading when he takes a break from Yankee stories every now and then, takes a stroll off the deep end in his latest column on Pedro Martinez:
...Martinez's performance raised a larger issue for the Mets, considering his stuff was so ordinary and his ability to throw strikes of any kind, let alone ones on the black, was missing.
Was Pedro suffering from the effects of a shortened spring and a cold night at Shea? Or is this what the future looks like for a 34-year-old who was already breaking down last September?
If it's the latter, the Mets' hopes for a prosperous summer aren't quite as bright. Of course, Pedro can still be a 12-, 14-game winner with an 88 mph fastball, but the Mets need more from him than the five runs he surrendered in six innings to the Nationals, barely out-pitching Ramon Ortiz.
I think you have to give a guy a who pitched 7 spring training innings a little bit of time before you start talking about his demise. This column is extremely premature, and typical of the type we're seeing this spring that panders to the worst fears of Mets fans.
Do I expect Pedro Martinez to pitch like a true ace this year? Probably not, but I have a feeling he'll figure out a way to be a very good pitcher. Too much has been made of the fact that Pedro has to be an ace for the Mets to win. To me, the other starters have to pick up the slack, and I've felt that way since before he threw his first pitch this spring. Jeez, Bob, if you're going to write this kind of Mets column, just go back to writing "feel-good" Jason Giambi stories.
Newsday: Mindless Radio
Neil Best takes a nice jab at Mike and the Mad Dog over their manufactured Enter Sandman controversy:
Sure, our afternoon-drive friends - who as of Tuesday also will be available live on the Internet - can be frustrating. Their egomania has risen with their salaries. They agree more than they used to. They interrupt both fans and interview subjects as much as ever.
But they know what buttons to push. ... The pressure always is on for Francesa and Russo to generate buzz and hold off the competition, from ESPN (1050) radio to the crowded 5-6 p.m. hour on TV. Their YES simulcast faces "Daily News Live" on SportsNet New York and "Around the Horn" and "Pardon the Interruption" on ESPN.
DNL mostly has been an unfocused snooze so far, but as it evolves, it might make a dent. "Around the Horn" is sophomoric, but the witty "Pardon the Interruption" is an always entertaining option.
Someday the sandman will arrive to put the Francesa/Russo franchise to bed. But as this week proved, for now their hold is as secure as a lead in Mariano Rivera's hands.
I think their stuff is already tired, and the best thing we can do as Mets fans who are sick of these guys is just tune out. N0 boycotts, no screaming, no crusades. Just stop listening. That's always the most effective way to vote "no" on something on radio or tv.
Daily News: Zambrano Good to Go
Peter Botte reports that Victor Zambrano feels he is ready to make his start Sunday against the Marlins. Botte also reports that Jose Lima had a rough first outing for Norfolk.