Wednesday, June 20, 2012
New York Is Not For Everyone
“I loved winning in St. Louis, but winning here was special because the Mets were down for so long. After so many years of bad play, it really captured the town. I couldn't buy anything for weeks. One night at Canastel’s, dinner for a party of ten, they sent over Cristal for everybody. Everyone remembers me as a Met. Even in St. Louis.”
In every sport New York is the most desired city to play in. It is the epicenter of pop culture and the world's biggest stage. The media capital can transform an athlete into a living legend. Ask Derek Jeter if he'd rather win championships in Baltimore or Kansas City. Ask Michael Jordan what it's like to play in Madison Square Garden. For the athlete that reaches their potential New York is a sports mecca. For the athlete that falls short of expectation it can be a nightmare.
Just a few short years ago Carlos Beltran was considered the savior of the New York Mets. After signing a HUGE free agent contract Beltran never lived up to the hype and eventually wore out his welcome in the Big Apple. The fans were unmerciful and the press raked him over the coals for his lack of production. Some wondered if his baseball career was over. As it turns out all he needed was a change of scenery. Beltran (Now a St. Louis Cardinal) currently leads the National League in home runs (19) and is 4th in RBI's (48). Without the distractions of playing in New York he's once again an all star.
A.J. Burnett used to get death threats after a bad outing when he was pitching for the New York Yankees. Burnett never looked comfortable in pinstripes and couldn't duplicate the numbers he put up in Toronto previously. It was only a matter of time before the Yankees parted ways with his $16,500,000 salary. Now he plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates and his career has seen a resurgence. Burnett is 7-2 with a 3.52 ERA. If he could have done that in the Bronx he might be a household name.
The pressure of New York is not for everyone. It is a high paced, demanding, unforgiving city. Sometimes you just need to get out of the pressure cooker to remember who you are and what you're capable of doing. I doubt A.J. Burnett or Carlos Beltran regret their decisions to play in New York, but I also doubt they have any desire to go back. For some people bigger is not always better.