During the winter of 2005, free agent Carlos Delgado’s agent, David Sloane, exchanged offers with the Florida Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, and New York’s most beloved team, the New York Mets.
The Mets after having spent $172 million signing the great Pedro Martinez and Carlos Belran, really believed that they were one player away from being a powerful contender for the World Championship. Delgado was thought to be that player.
Delgado had spent his entire career with the Toronto Blue Jays, who could no longer afford him. Jays’ manager John Gibbons explained “He’s done everything else he needs to do. He’s craving to play on a winner.”
The Mets believed that Delgado would be a perfect fit. Over his last nine seasons with Toronto, he batted .286 while averaging 36 home runs and 114 RBIs.
He and Carlos Beltran were good friends. Toronto general manager expressed the belief that their closeness could be an advantage for the Mets.
But Delgado was not without controversy.
He refused to stand at attention when “God Bless America” was played during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Instead, he took himself off the field.
The great Roberto Clemente was his hero, and like Clemente, Delgado is a peace activist, but he does not like to make a public show of his beliefs. His teammates didn’t know his views until the Toronto Star published a story in July, 2004 in which Delgado was quoted as stating,
“It’s a very terrible thing that happened on September 11. It’s (also) a terrible thing that happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, … I just feel so sad for the families that lost relatives and loved ones in the war. But I think it’s the stupidest war ever.”
Delgado’ friend, Canadian Gord Ash, who had once been the Blue Jays’ general manager, explained.
“In Canada it wasn’t an issue at all, because obviously, the Canadian government didn’t choose to participate either. As I understand it, it wasn’t a ‘look at me ‘ kind of thing. …it showed that he is a man of principle.”
Carlos was opposed to the Iraq war as well as against the Navy’s bombing exercises on the island of Vieques, which is near Puerto Rico. The Navy no longer used the island after 2003.
Sloane, whose primary concern was to get Delgado on a winner for as much money as possible, assured the media that if a team had a policy requiring players to stand at attention at certain time, his client would comply.
The Mets pressured Delgado to sign with them, which might have been a mistake. General manager Omar Minaya set a deadline for Delgado, telling Sloane that they had to make a decision by Sunday night, Jan. 23.
Sloane asked the Mets to reconsider, but they refused. Delgado felt the he was being backed into a corner. The Mets were out of it.
Strangely, it was learned that Delgado really wanted to sign with New York’s other team, the New York Yankees, who had an albatross around their neck in the person of steroid abuse Jason Giambi. When the Yankees decided to keep Giambi, there was no chance that they would improve their team by signing Delgado.
On Jan. 26, Carlos Delgado signed a four-year $52 million contract with the Marlins. He had a great season in Miami, batting .301 with 33 home runs and 115 RBIs. The Marlins finished tied with Mets for third place. Each team won 83 games.
After the 2005 season, the Marlins held one of their “firesales.” The Mets took full advantage of the situation by sending three nondescript players (Grant Psomas, Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit) to Florida in exchange for Delgado. It was robbery in broad daylight.
The trade transformed the Mets into genuine contenders. Although Delgado hit only .265, enlightened fans know that batting average is highly overrated and instead, pointed out that the Mets’ first baseman blasted 38 home runs, batted in 114 runs, and slugged .548.
The Mets won the Eastern Division title in 2006, overwhelmed the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, and came within one hit of winning the pennant.
When “God Bless America” was played at a ball park. Delgado stood at attention.
Kepner, T. (2005). Delgado has depth and skill, and wants to join a winner. NEW YORK, NY, United States: Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/93009748?accountid=46260
Carr, D. (2005). The week ahead. NEW YORK, NY, United States: Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/92927215?accountid=46260