Adrian Beltre was a relatively unknown quantity when he joined the Red Sox in 2010. In the end, however, I would say he left a big impression, as much with his off-field antics as with his on-field skills.
...and of the lineup, too, even if his high-fiving / fist-bumping technique (as shown here) might've needed some work...Beltre would log 154 games for the injury-riddled Sox, and put up an OPS of .919 for the year, his highest since 2004. He also broke his personal-best record for doubles (also set in 2004, at 48) with 2010's 49 two-baggers.
One more thing: I think I would be remiss if I didn't include some final tribute to Beltre's hypersensitive head, which was probably his most memorable character trait. Thus, below, a re-post of my account of the full-on assault on said hypersensitive head mounted in the dugout by V-Mart and Marco Scutaro in September.
Adrian Beltre smacked a solo shot into the upper deck in the left field corner in the top of the fourth inning, dropping onto one knee so hard (as on the T-shirt above) his other foot came off the ground, and his arm flailed open, so that it almost looked like he was accompanying his big finish with jazz hands.
We’ve come to look for a show bigger than the homer itself whenever Beltre returns to the dugout after going deep. This time, even though the act has been going on for weeks and weeks now, they topped even our heightened expectations.
Beltre was prepared. He held his batting helmet firmly on his head with one hand as he passed through the crowd of his teammates, high-fiving with his other hand. Finally he broke through near the Gatorade coolers, as most of his teammates stood back and laughed.
But not V-Mart. No, he stared after Beltre with laser-like focus, clearly plotting. “They’ll get to him,” was Remy’s call.
Eventually it was Bill Hall who approached Beltre, reaching for the batting helmet. At first Beltre ducked away, but ever so calmly, speaking to him in hushed tones like the Horse Whisperer, Bill Hall got Beltre to let him lift the helmet from his noggin.
See? Hall seemed to be saying, as he retreated from Beltre, shrugging. That’s all I wanted. He faked going for Beltre’s head then, but stopped at the last second. The two parted with a smile.
“Right now, I think they’re just lullin’im to sleep,” said Remy.
When next the camera cut to the dugout, Beltre was helping himself to a drink at the cooler and then V-Mart rose up behind him, grinning diabolically and dragging both palms languidly from Beltre's forehead to his crown before the third baseman could wriggle away.
To which Beltre responded by turning on Victor and throwing the remaining ice and liquid in the Gatorade cup he was holding into Martinez’s face.
Which is when Marco Scutaro rushed at Beltre as if he was going to try and tackle him. Beltre, reacting with catlike reflexes, hucked the crumped-up cup at him so hard his arm windmilled almost 360 degrees. It looked like it actually scratched Scutaro’s arm a little. With wax-coated paper.
Another lull. V-Mart, eyes wide, diverted Beltre not unlike Jeff Goldblum with the torch and the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. Beltre looked just about to lunge for V-Mart when Scutaro, having quietly grabbed a handful of ice from another cooler, planted it on Beltre’s cranium.
For the next few moments, there was little audible but the wheeze of Remy’s laughter. The three of them tussled again briefly, then separated, grabbing towels and continuing to talk trash. Beltre’s face was contorting itself when he turned toward the camera again, struggling not to crack a smile. When he took the field for the next inning, he was using his jersey to cover his giggles.
Needless to say, this has yet to get old for me, either.
The 2010 season was not successful in baseball terms, but the team kept me coming back, no matter how frustrating things got, with two essential things: their perseverance, and the implicit understanding they demonstrated in moments like this, that they were to at least entertain us if they couldn't satisfy us, baseball-wise. I admire and am grateful for that aspect of the 2010 team's "personality". And the Beltre / V-Mart / Scutaro comedy troupe probably embodied it best.
(See also: Red Sox Off-Season Photoblogging installment 1: Godspeed, V-Mart)