Behind the Glove: Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre. To most, the recently retired third baseman is known as baseball’s king of playfulness, big smiles, and outstanding plays at the hot corner. He’s a member of the 3,000 hits club, had his most consistent years in his mid-to-late thirties, and somehow always found a way to make players on the other team scratch their heads and laugh in bewilderment. To the casual fan, Adrian Beltre was the most kind-hearted, goofy player in the league. But, they would be wrong…
Even though on the outside Beltre was smiles and cheers, on the inside, there was nothing more than a Waluigi-esque grimace of evil. Beltre secretly hated being known as the fun, lovable veteran. But, to help his popularity and fame, he had to keep the facade going. Fellow Rangers took Beltre’s perpetual smiling and laughter as an invitation to joke with him. But, every time they’d try and have some fun, Beltre would retaliate in a mean-spirited fashion. If a teammate took a light-hearted dig at Beltre in a group conversation, Beltre would hit him in the shoulder. If a teammate won a game of MLB2k, Beltre would hit him in the shoulder. If a teammate hit Beltre in the shoulder, Beltre would hit them in the shoulder—harder. He really liked hitting teammates in the shoulder.
Former Rangers pitcher CJ Wilson mentioned just how awful Beltre could be:
“He was ruthless. I would screw around with Beltre, like a friend. Then he’d turn without warning and hit me in my non-throwing shoulder and say, ‘Shut up, PJ!’ My name’s CJ dammit! CJ. ”
Wilson shortly left to join the Angels organization. Some speculate it was from his fear of Beltre, while others believe it could’ve been the $75 million contract offer.
Former manager Ron Washington:
“Adrian scared the heebie-jeebies out of me. If he was in a slump, I’d try to bench him, get him right, but all I’d get in return was a seething smile and a voodoo doll that looked like me. I was his puppet, and Adrian had all the power.”
Beltre’s former teammate Felix Hernandez:
“Why do you think he always checks his own swing with the base umpires? For honesty? No! He checks his own swing as an insult to the pitcher, an insult to me. I mean, we’re cool, but we’re not exactly cool.”
Rangers First Baseman Joey Gallo:
Former Rangers Catcher Mike Napoli:
“Man, that dude was something else. This one night on our flight back after an extra-innings game, Beltre fell asleep first, so I stuck two straws up his nostrils. Y’know, thought it’d be funny when Adrian woke up and was like ‘Ah man, there’s straws in my nostrils.’ It wasn’t funny. He burned my house down after that.”
Even though Beltre’s presence in the locker room was characterized by fear, he did an exceptional job shielding the world from his true, dark nature during ballgames. Always smiling, laughing. His teammates couldn’t take it. They needed to show the world just how wicked Beltre was. Eventually, Rangers shortstop, Elvis Andrus figured the only way to show Beltre’s true colors, was to annoy him. And he did—a lot. Andrus even made a list for others to follow, titled, “Elvis Andrus’ List of Ways to Make Beltre Mad During Games” or “BeltreList.”
1. Fake catching a pop fly when Beltre clearly already called for it.
2. Yell at Beltre to hustle on a foul ball he just hit.
3. Swap Beltre’s glove with yours when he’s not looking.
4. Spit sunflower seeds in Beltre’s direction.
5. Say the time out loud even though Beltre never asked.
6. Spoil the most recent M. Night Shyamalan movie’s inevitable twist ending.
7. Sneeze near him so he’d be obligated to say “God bless you” or “Salud.”
8. Yell out Nelson Cruz’s name during a routine out anytime after 2011.
9. Blow in Beltre’s eyes.
10. Touch Beltre’s head.
Warning: DO NOT TOUCH HIS HEAD. Unless you really, really want to annoy him.
Beltre retired after this past season.
Whether it was due to old age, or being annoyed into retirement is up for heavy debate among professional analysts. But, from the Rangers perspective, they’re happy to just get back to having fun and playing baseball. Beltre, on the other hand, no longer needs the fake smiles or laughter, for he has ridden off into the proverbial sunset. And as long as no one touches his head, that’s where he’ll stay. The 2019 Texas Rangers can only hope.