Thursday newsletter time: Adrian Beltre stays humble in Rangers press conference
(AP photo/Julio Cortez)
Adrian Beltre arrived in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Wednesday night ahead of a press conference today at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. First, though, he stopped by Globe Life Field for his first press conference since being elected to the Hall on Tuesday.
He had nice things to say about his former teams and teammates and the two other players who were also elected, Joe Mauer and Todd Helton. Beltre even said some nice things about the Baseball Writers Association of America members who voted for him.
He didn’t have a bad thing to say about the 18 voters who did not check his name.
The only person he didn’t have anything nice to say about was himself. That seems to be what made him so good, not believing the stats and all the superlatives being written and said about him.
Beltre again said that he never expected to be in the Hall of Fame and that he doesn’t think that he’s worthy to be in the company of the game’s all-time greats.
“Just the fact that my name is going to be called next to Willie Mays, Ken Griffey, Pudge Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez, it blows my mind,” he said. “I’m going to be on the podium soon next to those guys. There’s nothing higher than that.
“I’m humbled because I don’t see myself like those guys. I don’t really belong, but I’m glad that people recognized what I did and thought that I was worthy of it.”
He said on Tuesday night that he finally started to think the Hall of Fame was possible during this final two seasons in the majors, when local scribes frequently reminded him of the feats he was accomplishing and the tiny group of players who had done it previously.
Beltre also said he didn’t think he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and then never dreamed he would receive 95.1 percent of the vote. When watching MLB Network before he was announced as a Hall of Famer, he saw that he was on 99 percent of the votes that had been revealed.
“I saw 99. I said, ‘How the hell am I at 99. Is that a typo?'” he said. “I just just don’t see myself that high.”
Well, he is, no matter how many times he says otherwise.
Watch your language
Kindly disregard what Beltre said at one point during the press conference.
He says that he doesn’t speak English well.
“I can’t speak English to save my life,” Beltre said.
Not so. He speaks it remarkably well, especially for someone who grew up in the Dominican Republic speaking only Spanish. He learned English as he came up through the minor leagues and then during a 21-year MLB career.
Any player from Latin America or Asia who learns English and speaks it in the presence of media is owed nothing but respect. Those who know how to speak it but choose not to when answering reporters’ questions usually do so because they aren’t 100 percent confident that what they say won’t get lost in translation.
And that’s fine, too.
Beltre has had some stumbling blocks along the way. He once thought that a waiter asking him if he wanted soup or salad was saying “super salad.” He always wanted the super salad.
I want a super salad.
Beltre tormenter Elvis Andrus has always spoken English, also very well. The current Rangers player who has come the furthest with his English is Jose Leclerc, who with local writers does not use a translator.
Reporters will generally help out players when speaking a second language. If they can’t find the right word or if they use the wrong verb tense, I clean it up. They’re doing me a favor, so I owe them one in return.
I used to do the same thing for NASCAR drivers and foreign-born open-wheel racers.
Former Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez said that he was burned during his time with the Astros, and he called out the offending writer for doing it intentionally. That writer, to the best of my knowledge, didn’t speak a lick of Spanish.
T.R. Sullivan attempted to assure Beltre that his English is terrific, but the third baseman respectfully disagreed.
Don’t listen to Beltre on this one.
Several of Beltre’s former teammates were at the press conference and, presumably, shared some yuks in the clubhouse before Beltre took to the dais.
Among them were Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, David Murphy, Cole Hamels and Shin-Soo Choo.
Choo is a personal favorite. He also speaks English well. He’s still playing baseball professionally.
He ships out today for Vero Beach, Fla., where his Korea Baseball Organization team, SSG Landers, holds a three-week spring training before heading to Korea. Choo already announced that this is his final season.
The opportunity to play in his native country, in front of his parents and extended family, has been a fun ride.
“It was one of my goals,” Choo said. “I hadn’t had much opportunity. But in 2020, after COVID, I had four or five teams interested. The owners of SSG wanted me bad. That’s why I changed.”
Choo is playing for the league minimum to help his team with the salary cap, and he is donating all the money to charity. Once he’s finished playing, he plans on living full time in his Tarrant County home.
Just like my daughter when she has a California roll. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) January 24, 2024
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org