In the end, Carlos Beltran acted with his head over his heart.
While still believing he could play center field, the 33-year-old Beltran doesn’t think he could play to the level he had grown accustomed to immediately and told manager Terry Collins this morning that it was in the best interest of everybody that he move to right field now and let Angel Pagan play center.
Beltran said he wanted to make the switch now because of his knees, although Collins was prepared to give the veteran until the middle of the month to see if he can still play center.
“I have to think about my health and how to be in the field for the team,’’ Beltran told reporters this morning in Port St. Lucie. “ I believe the best decision is for me to play right field. It’s going to be less active, and I am looking forward to saving my knees for the long run.
“I know if I am healthy and I can play more time in the field, I can help this team offensively, even in the outfield. I know it will be a different transition for me to make but I feel I will be able to go to that.’’
At the beginning of last week I wrote how important the Detroit and Minnesota series were to the streaky Mets.
They’ve been either hot or cold and a solid showing against two strong American League teams would be a positive showing, and going 4-2 has them on the cusp again of first place in the NL East. With a win tonight and Atlanta loss to Washington and rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg, the Mets can move into first place.
They’ll attempt to do it behind knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is vying tonight to become the first Mets pitcher since Steve Trachsel in 2006 to win seven straight decisions.
“It doesn’t feel surreal,’’ Dickey said. “It feels like something I’ve been capable of doing.’’
The Mets will be without Angel Pagan again tonight, who remains sidelined with a muscle spasm on his right side.
I’m extremely disappointed in my colleagues for not voting Roberto Alomar into the Hall of Fame. Part of the criteria is to dominate your position for an extended length of time, which is what Alomar did at second base in the American League.
Alomar was a player who could beat you in so many ways. He was a five-tool player. A perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winner, he was the standard for second basemen during his career.
The only blemish on his resume was the spitting incident with umpire John Hirschbeck. It was out of character and he paid for it. But, he shouldn’t have to pay for it any longer.
The playoffs begin this afternoon in Philadelphia with the Phillies against the Colorado Rockies. The Mets should pay close attention because the Phillies play the game the right way. There’s a grit and toughness about them.
The other National League series has St. Louis going against the Dodgers against the Cardinals, the team I think will get to the World Series.
In the American League, I’m not sold on the Yankees because of their pitching. On paper, they are deeper and more talented than Minnesota, but we know how many series have been played on paper. The Yankees chose to start today instead of tomorrow. It was gamesmanship on their part, but this is a case where MLB should have stepped in for the good of the sport.
The other American League series has the Angels and Red Sox, with Los Angeles holding the home field. The Red Sox, however, have the Angels’ number, just like the Angels have something over the Yankees.
I’ll be watching, but I won’t get to the Phillies game right away. I’ll open the Chat Room for you and hope you’ll pick up the slack.
The 1967 American League pennant race was arguably the most gripping in history with Boston, Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit all in contention in the final week. For much of the season, the Angels were in it, and were the first to fade away. Next to go were the White Sox, who had a domineering staff but couldn’t score and runs.
On this day, Carl Yastrzemski hits his 43rd homer, but the Red Sox lose to Cleveland. Harmon Killebrew homers twice as Minnesota beats the Angels. Detroit’s Mickey Lolich threw a 1-0 shutout at the Yankees.
The Impossible Dream
At the end of the day, Minnesota (91-68) led idle Chicago (89-68) and Boston (90-69) by a game and the Tigers (89-69) by 1.5 games.
The Red Sox beat the Twins on the season’s final day, but had to wait around for Detroit to lose to the Angels to clinch.
I followed that race with a transistor radio late at night and pulled for the Red Sox as I grew to like them because Tony Conigliaro was one of my favorite players growing up.