Adrian Beltre's decision to retire Tuesday was inevitable. Beltre will turn 40 in April, and despite still being a productive player, over the last two years it's become clear that his body simply isn't capable of playing baseball five days a week. Time has come for the best third baseman of the last quarter-century.
It still stings.
For two decades now, Beltre has been, as Fangraphs put it today, "everyone's favorite player." Since being called up to the Dodgers as a 19-year-old, all Beltre has done, every day he's been on the field, is play sparkling, stylish defense at one of the game's most difficult positions while hitting for consistent power to all fields. He never took a game or a play off and inspired fierce loyalty from his teammates and fans in Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston and, finally, Arlington.
Beltre always provided a reason to tune in, whether he was carrying a team to the playoffs, performing a slapstick routine with shortstop Elvis Andrus on the left side of Globe Life Park's infield or swinging so hard that he screwed himself into the ground of the batter's box.
The Rangers and their fans are going to feel Beltre's absence for a long time, but today, when the post-retirement hangover is the strongest, a little hair of the dog is in order. Here are five Beltre clips to help get you through this last, miserable day before Thanksgiving.
1. The 3,000th hit. — On July 30, 2017, Beltre cemented his Hall of Fame credentials by becoming the 31st player to record 3,000 major league hits. Before joining the Rangers in 2011, Beltre was considered a fringe Hall candidate. Thanks to his eight spectacular years in Texas, the only question that remains is whether he'll go in on the first ballot.
2. Homering from one knee during the 2011 World Series. — With the Rangers trailing 2-1 in the sixth inning of Game 5 of the 2011 World Series, Beltre hit a game-tying home run from one knee, keying an eventual 4-2 Rangers win over the Cardinals. With the victory, the Rangers were one win away from their first-ever World Series title. Beltre starred in the next game, too, but we're not going to talk about how that one ended.
3. Following the ump's instructions and getting ejected anyway. — One of Beltre's quirks, and he had a lot of them, led him to stand nearly behind the current batter while on deck, rather than in the on-deck circle. On July 26, 2017, second-base umpire Gerry Davis decided he was going to be the first arbiter to take issue with Beltre's practice, and told him to get in the on-deck circle. Beltre complied — by dragging the circle to where he was previously standing. Davis ejected Beltre, but it was worth it.
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4. A Gold Glove for a 37-year-old. — Third base is not an old man's position. Playing it successfully requires perfect reflexes, a strong arm and immaculate footwork. Beltre never aged out of the position, winning his fifth Gold Glove at the hot corner at the age of 37 in 2016.
5. Three homers in the dome. — Beltre slammed three home runs, tying a playoff game record, as the Rangers eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth game of the 2011 American League Division Series. His performance was the high-water mark of a playoffs-long hot streak that saw Beltre hit five home runs in 17 games.