Carlos Beltran “the symbol of failed expectations”

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You’d think that after he was actually traded that New York columnists would stop blaming Carlos Beltran for everything that’s wrong with the Mets.  But I suppose until he plays his first game with the Giants there’s still time to slam him as he walks out the door and pretend that he took more from the Mets than he gave.

Today’s slammer: George Vecsey of the New York Times, who calls Carlos Beltran “the symbol of failed expectations” for the New York Mets and, as so many have done, he reaches back five years in order to do it:

Now that era is over, and Beltran has his name attached to it because he lasted more than six and a half seasons, and personified the time with one signature called third strike to end the seventh and last game of the 2006 National League Championship Series. Even if he had taken one last lusty “Casey at the Bat” swing, and missed, perhaps his fate would have been different. But he gawked.

Vecsey isn’t suffering from Beltran derangement syndrome here — he acknowledges that the problems of the Mets for the past several years ran far deeper — but references to that 2006 NLCS called strike are silly in assessing Beltran’s time with the Mets.  It was one isolated thing that says virtually nothing about him as a player or his contribution to the team.

Ryan Howard looked at a called third strike to end the 2010 NLCS and people don’t treat that as the defining moment of his legacy. Why do so many do it with Beltran?

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.