Is Carlos Beltran a plagiarist?
On Feb. 16, the Mets' soft-spoken center fielder,
expounding on the team's acquisition of Johan Santana, threw out an unexpected boast:
"To Jimmy Rollins: We are the team to beat," Beltran said. "Let me tell you this. Without
Santana, we felt, as a team, that we had a chance to win in our division. With him now, I
have no doubt that we're going to win in our division. I have no doubt in that. We've got
what it takes."
"Two things come to mind," he said. "One, there are four other teams in our division who
are going to make sure that doesn't happen, and two, has anyone ever heard of plagiarism?
That was pretty good, especially coming from him. He's a quiet guy, so it was probably
shocking when he said it. Not shocking in a bad way, like 'Wow, I can't believe he said
that.' More like, 'Wow, he finally said something because he's a leader on that team and
you definitely need to be a vocal leader.'"
Is the rivalry peaking?
"I wish I could take credit, but it started on the field," Rollins said. "We had a decent team
for a number years. They got better. We got better. Finally last year, both teams came in
feeling they could win it. The Braves lost hold, and things went up in the air. It makes
you feel like playing for pride for your team and your city. We'll never be Boston and
New York, by any means, but the intensity is starting to pick up."
Is there more pressure on the Mets or Phillies?
"The pressure is back on them," Rollins said. "They were on paper the best team in the division last year
and supposed to win and didn't. They're going to try to prove what happened was a fluke.
The spotlight isn't on us. New York is always supposed to be better than any other city.
The fans and the media expect that, so the team is going to feel the same way. They're
already under the microscope. You go out there and struggle, you'll hear it."
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What about Santana's impact?
"However many games he wins and loses, that's his impact," Rollins said. "He can only pitch one game at a
time, fortunately. If you play them in a three- or four-game series and he beats you
every time you face him, but you win the other two games, you win the series. He's going
to be a pick-me-up for their team, but when the season starts, everything is handled on
the field. No matter how good you feel, you have to go out there and beat the other
"We can 100 games," Rollins said. "Look at what happened last year with all the injuries, different
pitchers and uncertainties, and we wound up winning 89 games. There's a number of things
that went wrong, and we still found a way to win 89 games. Offensively, we haven't lost
anything. We've actually taken a step forward. Pitching-wise, with Brett [Myers] back in
the rotation and [Brad] Lidge coming back to being the closer he was, we can seal the
Would you have been MVP if you hadn't said what you said?
"Probably not," Rollins said. "It wouldn't have taken away from my season, but just putting it out there
and having the added pressure and being able to perform, it definitely helped a lot."
Do you feel now that the Phillies are the team to beat?
"There isn't a team in this division or the National League that's better than us," Rollins said. "I'm
not saying on paper or anything that we're the best team, but we can play with anybody
and that's the bottom line. In '06 and '05, the Mets were the best team hands down, but
in '07, I didn't feel that way anymore and I don't feel that way this year."