Next month the Hall of Fame will dedicate !Viva Baseball! an exhibit celebrating baseball in the Caribbean Basin countries. Latino Hall of Famers like Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Tany Perez will be featured in the exhibit. Same as a series of present day stars.
Of such today’s luminaries one of them is Aguadilla’s favorite son Carlos Delgado.
Does this will be his first staple in Cooperstown and turn to be a permanent one.
There is no doubt Roberto Alomar will be the next boricua in the pavilion. No matter how much discussion there have been after 35 years of the role of the designated hitter Edgar Martinez should be the first honored.
Ivan Rodriguez is enjoying another summer in the diamond but no discussion there should be when he finally decides to hang his shin guards and mask that he will be a first ballot shoo-in.
The present New York Met in 17 seasons, year after year, has proven all baseball people his star status. No matter originally a catcher, he was switched to first base. His bat has done all the talking.
Delgado, 36, holds the all-time home run and RBI record among Puerto Rican players. If healthy, this season he could be the fifth Latino to join the home run 500-Club. Already he is among only six Latinos with over 1,500 RBI’s in a career.
Delgado is the fourth player in the majors history to hit at least 30 homers in 10 consecutive seasons, and he amassed 100 RBI or more in seven of his ten full seasons. In the days as a Blue Jay, those numbers were fueled with 6 consecutive seasons with over 30 homers and 100 RBI’s.
Those amazing numbers and many others still hold several Toronto’s single-season and career records. Moreover, it was in Canada he won the 2000 Hank Aaron award and 3 Silver Slugger honors.
He added to his hardware, the 2006 Roberto Clemente Award due to his great charity work outside the baseball fields.
And this is just a summary.
His actual resume very well compares with the career of such greats first baseman as Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell. Delgado says he does not have control of how writers look to him at present and how he will be foreseen in the future.
Probably is true but if healthy Delgado continues racking numbers the votes for Cooperstown will be by them. Probably we will know his induction by 2020.
This column was also published as a special for The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Commentary
Nowadays when you ask about whom are the best players in the Major Leagues the fastest response are Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez. Just check out as an example all those fantasy baseball magazines around.
After the Cardinals and Marlins All-Stars, then the question is who’s third? If you ask most of those called experts among this season media the response is a fast-track one too, the name most bring up is Carlos Beltran. By the way, check some of those same magazines because they agreed too.
In Mets land the Manati native is not mentioned, as it should be. Although every year his numbers are comparable to those compiled by teammates Carlos Delgado and David Wright, he does not receive as much attention as they have. He is neither popular of autograph seekers like Jose Reyes or Johan Santana.
Long time ago General Manager Omar Minaya called him on the record the quietest leader you can have in a team. Beltran did not accept neither rejects the accolade. The 12th season veteran knows he himself is a quiet and reserved man. Even though he is being the best-paid Met this season, his $19 million salary does not make him an unostentatious and unpretentious guy.
For Beltran his numbers are the one who speaks for himself. And this season is no exemption. At present his bat is one of the team best in this young season for average and power numbers and his defense is turning as another in his resume.
Because his name tends to be forgotten the four-time All-Star have been a Gold Glove winner the last three seasons. Many thinks he should have won last year for the third straight the Silver Slugger Award. Moreover, last season for the third straight season he batted again over 25 dingers and over 100 RBI’s.
And many of the principal media outlets wrote him at the end of the 2008 season in their season’ All-Star Team.
For Beltran, who’s going to be 32 upcoming April 24th, he pointed us his job is to produce and not to be in a popularity contest. He knows long gone is his 1999 American League Rookie of the Year Award and this season he would like to prove he can be a league awardees again. As MVP. The closest he was to that honor was in fourth place in the voting in 2006.
He also would like to finally get his team to the next level. As in October be in the World Series. And his mission is to have a record-breaking post-season like he did have in 2004 for the Houston Astros. Still, as an amazing performance not repeated it yet. Of course, he expects his New York squad will not choke again as in the past two seasons in September.
For Beltran it is a matter he wants to demonstrate he can. And many, including his buddy and teammate Carlos Delgado agree he can. According to Delgado, if Beltran plays with the same passion and heart he played last March for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic he can be this year Mets MVP. And those are big words from one that quietly is compiling numbers for hall of fame monitoring.
It is true it is only April but watch out for the quiet Beltran to do a lot of noise. After all, the considered five-tool player quietly wants to demonstrate he can be the best.
This column was also published as a special for The Puerto Rico Daily News / MLB Commentary
Only few days are left to finally listen the cry of Playball ! in most major league parks. No more spring training exhibition games.
Starting April 5th it is the real thing. Under the lights, the Philadelphia Phillies will open officially the 2009 season on national TV against the Atlanta Braves. For many, many years truthfully not many care about the Brotherly Love city Phils. This season Charlie Manuel’s troop is a must watch.
The Phillies will try to be the first defending champs this decade to win back to back titles. Since 00′, Major League Baseball champions includes the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, White Sox, Cardinals and twice the Red Sox. In paper, it looks the Phillies have all the tools to return to the World Series and fulfill the feast last accomplished by the 1998-2000 Bronx Bombers.
In Puerto Rico, I wonder how many really care about the Phillies and for the whole purpose the baseball upcoming season. Back at the turn of the century the list of boricuas in the Majors use to be around 50 every summer. Most were big names to their franchises and well-known for every baseball fan. Every All-Star Game was fully loaded with puertorriqueños, same as post-season time.
For the last, around two-three years, it have been follow closely the dwindling decrease of islanders in the big show.
This upcoming season the only boricuas projected to be on a regular basis in a lineup are in the American League: Mike Lowell (Red Sox), Jorge Posada, (Yankees), Mike Aviles and David de Jesus (Royals) and Alexis Rios (Blue Jays). In the National League: Felipe Lopez (D’Backs), Geovany Soto (Cubs), Ivan Rodriguez (Astros), Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado (Mets) and the brothers Molina Bengie (Giants) and Yadier (Cardinals).
Probable starters in a regular rotation this upcoming season are Javier Vazquez (Braves) and Joel Piñeiro (Cardinals). Let’s not forget new puertorrican Ian Snell (Pirates) who was nationalized with his two starts in the last World Baseball Classic. By the way, not to make the matters worse, but not even 20 more names are present in spring camps competing for a bench spot, utility role or pitching job to make in the season’s opener 25-man rosters.
The glory days are gone? Good question. No doubt, we can not take anything from the current crop. Every year there is at least one islander that excels and make all Puerto Rico proud.
Last season the man was Geovany Soto. The young catcher was the National League Rookie of the Year and selected by all major national media outlets for the same honor. Also, let not forget the excellent season of National league Gold Glovers Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina.
Hooray for the honor. However, circa 1998 it would have taken at least two more paragraphs to write the accolades of our Puerto Rican stars. That it would have included such names as Juan Gonzalez, Ruben Sierra, Carlos Baerga, Edgar Martinez, Roberto and Sandy Alomar. It was the hey-days of Pudge Rodriguez with Texas and Carlos Delgado with Toronto. Let’s not forget that time around Carlos Beltran was just coming up in 1999 as American League Rookie of the Year. Mike Lowell was just a rookie making a name for himself with the Florida Marlins.
There is a lot of talk about the different reasons with the continuing decrease of major league caliber local talent. And for God sake let’s not start to compare with the continuous rising baseball talent from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
Let be honest, Puerto Rico still is baseball country. It was seen the passion and colors in the last World Baseball Classic. True a bad ninth inning against the USA derailed a final-four appearance dream in the world tourney. However no dream should be broken in the future.
The future is now that players have to arise again. Yes, we are very proud of the legacy of Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda and hopefully future hall of famers Robbie Alomar and Edgar Martinez. However, again, we need that boom of baseball players to build up again and fill up the majors. Meanwhile, do care and enjoy the upcoming season and root for your favorite team and favorite puertorrican player.
This column was also published as a Special For The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / Commentary Column