The fallout from baseball’s electronic sign-stealing scandal keeps getting worse. Just ask Carlos Beltran, who never got to manage a game for the New York Mets.
The Houston Astros fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch after baseball commissioner Rob Manfred suspended them. The Boston Red Sox ran off manager Alex Cora, another Astros scofflaw, while MLB’s investigation of that team’s espionage was ongoing.
Then the Mets parted ways with Beltran – who was also implicated in the Astros’ cheating – just to stay clear of the controversy.
So four baseball careers were either damaged or ruined during the span of a few short days.
Beltran was universally respected as a player. He made a hugely positive impact during his brief tenure with the Cardinals (2012-13) in the twilight of his career.
It was especially tough to see him caught up in this scandal, due to his overzealous actions with the Astros. But true to his high character, Beltran took the high road on after he exited the job.
“Over my 20 years in the game, I’ve always taken pride in being a leader and doing things the right way, and in this situation, I failed,” Beltran told ESPN. “As a veteran player on the team I should’ve recognized the severity of the issue and truly regret the actions that were taken. I am a man of faith and integrity and what took place did not demonstrate those characteristics that are so very important to me and my family.
“I’m very sorry. It’s not who I am as a father, a husband, a teammate and as an educator. The Mets organization and I mutually agreed to part ways, moving forward for the greater good with no further distractions. I hope that at some point in time, I’ll have the opportunity to return to this game that I love so much.”
Here is what folks had to write about all of this:
Hannah Keyser, Yahoo! Sports: “And just like that, all four of the men named in commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision on the Houston Astros’ illegal sign-stealing investigation are gone from the game. A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow, slapped with one-year suspensions, were fired by the Astros before most media outlets could even process what a single season missed would mean. The Boston Red Sox ‘mutually parted ways’ with Alex Cora based on his role as the Astros bench coach, preempting any official punishment for Boston’s 2018 sign-stealing under his skippership. And Thursday, Carlos Beltran ‘stepped down’ from his position as Mets manager even before it had meaningfully begun. As an active player in 2017, Beltran was not subject to official sanctions from the league. However in his new role, without the protections of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the Mets were free to distance themselves from a scandal they didn’t even benefit from (which, a moment of appreciation for their ability to remain true to form even now).”
Bob Nightengale, USA Today: “The New York Mets couldn’t take the heat. And in typical Mets fashion, they succumbed to the pressure. They could have easily retained Carlos Beltran. They could have stood behind their man. Instead, they meekly bowed down and ousted Beltran before he managed his first game. No, check that. The parties ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’ Sorry, now they're lying. Beltran, according to one of his closest friends, had no intention to step down. He told the Mets he could get through this. He persevered 20 years in the major leagues, handling all of the ups and downs, so he certainly could handle this storm. The Mets wouldn’t let him, and told him he needed to go, afraid of the backlash his presence might draw. Once the Mets hire Beltran’s replacement – perhaps Eduardo Perez, runner-up to Beltran in the managerial derby, or bench coach Hensley Meulens, they will have will have the distinction of paying three managers simultaneously. Only in Queens. Beltran, one of the most respected players and clubhouse leaders in the game during his career, certainly proved he wasn’t a saint. He was part of the Houston Astros’ electronic sign stealing in his final year as a player in 2017. He also was still a player.”
David Schoenfield, ESPN.com: “I think back to covering the Red Sox throughout their 2018 playoff run. To a man, the players praised Cora's energy and communication skills, how he deserved a lot of credit for the team's success. It didn't come across as typical robot playerspeak. They genuinely liked and respected their manager. Cora, who had been a broadcaster with ESPN before his one-year stint as bench coach in Houston, was open and engaging with the media, and he took great pride in his Puerto Rican heritage. He appeared to have a bright and long future in the game. The same could be said of Hinch. He had just managed the Astros to three straight 100-win seasons, with that 2017 title and another World Series appearance in 2019. Still just 45 years old, Hinch had established an early path as a potential Hall of Fame manager. Now, in two days, baseball has lost two of its biggest faces of managing. That's a blow to the sport. Still, as well-liked and well-respected as Cora and Hinch have been, their reputations are now permanently stained -- especially Cora's, since he took part in schemes with both organizations, while the commissioner's report at least suggested that Hinch wasn't happy with the sign-stealing scheme (but didn't do anything to stop it). Fair or not, they will forever be branded as C-H-E-A-T-E-R-S. It looks like both are persona non grata in the game for the 2020 season, and you have to wonder what kind of timetable exists before another opportunity arises for either -- if not managing, perhaps in broadcasting or in a front office. As we saw with players implicated in the steroids mess of the 1990s and early 2000s, forgiveness exists -- think of Mark McGwire eventually returning as a hitting coach for three different teams.”
Tom Verducci, SI.com: “But there is something much bigger going on here. It’s bigger than Beltrán and bigger even than the Astros’ scandal. Baseball is smack in the middle of a crisis of ethics. ‘Finding an edge; has become the mantra of an increasingly data-driven game and world. And as it does, it has spawned one scandal after another in the sport. Is it too much to ask to find a general manager and manager who actually plays by a fair code of conduct? If there is anything good to come out of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal it is that people in baseball are hit with an attack of conscience. The sport needs an awakening. If the jobs of AJ Hinch, Alex Cora, Jeff Luhnow and Beltrán are part of the cost, so be it. Last November, as the Houston scandal broke, commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to general managers at their annual meeting about the need to humanize the game more. As the power of influence in the game shifted from the dugout to the front office–and specifically, a generation of whip-smart efficiency and actuarial experts who mined new levels of understanding of this game of percentages–the language of the game shifted. Luhnow worked at McKinsey as a management consultant before he entered baseball with the Cardinals. Oakland president Billy Beane, a former player and one of the high lords of this evidence-based movement, likes to say, ‘When you get down to it, we are all actuaries’–trying to cast future outcomes on past data.”
“I mean, I get it. If you’re with the Oakland A’s and you’re on another team, heck yeah, you better be telling your teammates, ‘Look, heads up, if you hear some noises when you’re pitching, this is what’s going on. But to go public? Yeah, it didn’t sit well with me.”
• Mets adviser and ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza, criticizing pitcher Mike Fiers for exposing the Astros’ sign-stealing technology.
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