Carlos Beltran Picks His Spots Well

Call for better play comes before visit to worst team

Much to the chagrin of many fans, writers and talk-radio hosts, baseball isn't really a rah-rah game. It's good to be fired up to play, obviously, but when it comes down to making and hitting pitches, concentration matters a lot more than emotion. That means the fiery locker room speech that works in football is a lot less likely to work on the diamond.

There are times where it doesn't hurt to try, though, and the end of a sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates is one of those times. Carlos Beltran recognized that the moment was ripe for someone to step into the breach.

"There's no doubt we have to play better. We have to take this personally because this can't happen. We can't come in here and lose just like that. I know they're a big-league ball club, but we're better than them. We're better than them and we know we're better than them. But we have to do something about it."

Beltran's a smart cookie. Not only does he avoid ripping any teammate personally, but he doesn't even veer into anything that doesn't include him as part of the problem and solution. That plays well among people who think Beltran doesn't get his hands dirty, especially since Beltran's stomach bug kept him from playing in two of the losses to the Pirates.

It'll also help burnish that reputation as a leader if the Mets reel off a few wins in a row following Beltran's outburst. As it happens, they're heading to D.C. for a weekend set with the woeful Nationals. Beltran probably would have said the same thing if the Phillies or Braves were next up on the schedule, but he couldn't ask for a better set-up to leave himself looking like the wise clubhouse leader that many think the Mets have been missing.

Even the Nats won't be easy pickings for this reeling bunch, however, and there aren't going to be many cakewalks for the rest of the month. Not without Jose Reyes, diagnosed with a torn hamstring on Thursday, no matter how many stirring speeches Beltran delivers.

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