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MLB

Carlos Beltran Doesn’t Anoint Kings While Court Is In Session

Game 2 of the 2013 World Series was looking like another chapter in David Ortiz’s thick book of playoff punishments that’s he’s served to a gang of suckers over the years.

For the second consecutive night Big Papi popped off on the St. Louis Cardinals, and this time the victim was rookie pitching phenom Michael Wacha “Flocka Flames.”

Entering the game, the 22-year old, Texas-born hurler had a 3-0 record and a 0.43 ERA in 21 innings of playoff-pitching mastery. However, since bursting on the scene and laying cats flat with his rolling pin dominance, Wacha hasn’t faced the likes of a Big Papi in these playoffs.

Wacha was stung by the G.O.A.T., but he stayed afloat, completing six solid innings of two-run ball. And once St .Louis got rid of Boston starter John Lackey, who was solid over 6 2/3 innings , all hell broke loose in Beantown. By the time the seventh inning was over, the Cardinals had the lead and eventually won the game 4-2 to knot the series at 1-1. More importantly, St. Louis weathered the human playoff hurricane named David Ortiz.

They did it with the help of Carlos Beltran, who bruised his ribs and went to the hospital after smashing into the wall while robbing Ortiz of a grand slam in the second inning of Game 1.

“Yesterday was a very scary moment for me, "Beltran said on FOX TV, following Game 2. I thought I did something major to my ribs…but somebody was going to have to kill me to keep me out of this game tonight. “

Usually, when one of Big Papi’s playoff opponents asks for the death stroke, he personally introduces them to the Grim Reaper. While news outlets sang Big Papi’s postseason praises, most cats wrote Beltran off for at least Game 2. But the St. Louis vet has waited 16 years to reach a World Series and he let it be known that the pride of Puerto Rico doesn’t go out that easily.

Not only did Beltran play, but he collected two hits, including a key single to cap a three-run seventh inning. He let it be known that the “Prince of the Postseason” tag is still up for grabs and as long as he’s wielding lumber in October, he has the skills to play his own Game of Thrones and be a king slayer. Beltran already proved that in Game 1 of the NLCs against LA when he first gunned the winning run out at the plate in the 10 th-inning and then walked-off with a game-winning hit in the 13th inning.

Again, his presence on Thursday night seemed to add a favorable mystique to the Cardinals, who after Beltran’s injury in Game 1 of this WS, fumbled the ball around like David Wilson in the football Giants backfield. In Game 2, St. Louis flashed flawless gloves.

Beltran didn’t get the playoff tag of being a poor man’s Big Papi by spraying singles all over the field.

The slugger isn’t getting any younger, but it’s always possible that Beltran could recapture the gladiator, power-rush he exhibited in the 2004 playoffs, when he was a rising MLB gem.

On June 24, 2004, the Kansas City Royals traded Beltran to the Houston Astros in a three-team deal. It was really a rental for a pitching-rich Astros team, who needed some offensive reinforcements for their 2004 playoff run. It was unlikely Beltran would re-sign there as a free agent.

While he was on Houston’s payroll, Beltran became one of the greatest late-season acquisitions in history. He tied Barry Bond’s single postseason-record with eight home runs. He hit one in each of the first four games of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the St. Louis Cardinals, including the game-winner in Game 4. Counting his two home-run performance in Game 5 of the previous playoff round in the National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Atlanta Braves, Beltran smashed at least one home run in a record-setting five consecutive postseason games.

That epic playoff performance netted Beltran a 7-year, $119 million deal with the Mets in 2005. He was a nice fit for the Mets until that fateful NLCS in 2006 when Adam Wainwright caught Beltran looking on a called third strike in the ninth-inning, to eliminate NY and crush the Mets WS hopes. Most Mets fans tend to harp on that.

Most of the baseball community, however, chooses to acknowledge his sick postseason body of work (.339 batting average, 16 home runs and 1.163 OPS in 47 career games), rather than his one glaring failure. In reality, Beltran just picked the wrong city and the wrong moment to fall short, but he’s chugged along with no regrets, and his favorable postseason history has grown as well.

“Actually, I’m not thinking about the fans, I’m thinking about myself …"Beltran said, when he signed with the Cardinals in 2012, for what many thought would be a final supper.” I just want to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs. What happened in 2006, you have to turn the page. That’s over. It has been six years. If they want to continue to think about that moment, then that’s their problem. Like I said, I have turned the page.”

With Beltran moving on to Game 3 of this World Series with his ribs intact, the mood has changed and it seems we have a WS again. Remember that stuff we spit about the baseball gods loving Big Papi ? Well, maybe it’s Beltran’s time to rewrite history, erase past tribulations and enter the winner’s circle. Even if he fails, Beltran is letting Big Papi know he has comp in the building this October.

 

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