New details in Astros cheating scandal put Carlos Beltran's legacy in jeopardy

New details have emerged in the infamous Houston Astros cheating scandal and they place a lot of blame on Carlos Beltran, who already lost his job as New York Mets manager and now could see his Hall of Fame case in jeopardy.

A story published Tuesday by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich cast Beltran as the central figure in the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme with unchecked power (even by his own manager), mafia-style nicknames and the gusto to “steamroll” past anyone who wasn’t on board with the cheating.

From The Athletic:

[I]t was Beltrán who, according to multiple sources, told the Astros that their sign-stealing methods were “behind the times.”

During the season, small groups of Astros discussed their misgivings. McCann at one point approached Beltrán and asked him to stop, two members of the 2017 team said.

“He disregarded it and steamrolled everybody,” one of the team members said. “Where do you go if you’re a young, impressionable player with the Astros and this guy says, ‘We’re doing this’? What do you do?”

Beltran and Alex Cora were singled out in MLB’s investigation as two of the main forces behind the Astros’ scheme, which used a camera in centerfield to relay live signs into the Astros dugout. Houston players would then use a nearby trash can to signal to hitters in real-time if a breaking ball was coming.

Cora was the Astros’ bench coach at the time, the right-hand man to manager A.J. Hinch. Beltran was in the final year of his 20-year MLB career. Being implicated in MLB’s report cost both of them their jobs. Cora was the Red Sox manager and Beltran had just been hired as Mets manager.

Carlos Beltran reportedly "steamrolled" people in the Astros clubhouse who didn't agree with the 2017 cheating scheme. (Photo by Justin Heiman/Getty Images)
Carlos Beltran reportedly "steamrolled" people in the Astros clubhouse who didn't agree with the 2017 cheating scheme. (Photo by Justin Heiman/Getty Images)

Of Beltran’s power in the Houston clubhouse, The Athletic wrote:

Beltrán’s sway over the clubhouse, however, helps explain the inaction of Hinch and his other coaches and players, even as some who were there say they felt conflicted about the team’s misconduct. The reluctance of anyone in uniform to challenge Beltrán spoke to the power of the accomplished veteran in the sport’s political pecking order...

Members of the 2017 Astros use various terms to describe Beltrán — El Jefe, the Godfather, the king, the alpha male in the building. Beltrán was 40 that season, capping off a 20-year career, seeking to add to his Hall of Fame resumé. No other person in the Astros’ clubhouse carried the same stature, including McCann, who was 33 that season and a less accomplished player.

The latest reporting from The Athletic indicates the Mets were wise to distance themselves from Beltran immediately following MLB’s report. It’s also fair to wonder whether Beltran’s legacy in MLB could face the same kind of scrutiny as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Pete Rose as one of the game’s most polarizing figures.

The difference between Cora and Beltran in this particular instance? The Hall of Fame.

Cora was not close to being a Cooperstown-worthy player, but Beltran had at least a very good Hall of Fame case before this scandal. In 2017, as the Astros closed out the World Series and Beltran hinted at retirement, it was widely written about how Beltran finally winning a World Series after 20 years would help his Hall of Fame case. He’ll be considered by voters starting in 2023.

Now, it sounds like Beltran was willing to go further than most in 2017 to get that long-awaited World Series ring.

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