(BaseballStL) -- Carlos Beltran has played 16 years in the majors. He has more than 2,200 hits, 1,300 RBIs and 350 home runs. He has two Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves and is an eight-time All Star. In career that long and fruitful, it's hard to imagine getting another first, but Friday night he did.
After more than 9,000 plate appearances, and more than 2,000 games, Carlos Beltran is finally going to a World Series.
“The team has been on a mission to get me to this point. I really appreciate that from everyone that really wants me to win a World Series, that really wants me to have the opportunity to play in the World Series," he said after Friday's game. "It really means a lot and it really means they care. We all care about each other so that’s a good thing.”
He had been close before; three times in fact. Oddly enough, St. Louis was the heart breaker every time.
In 2004, Beltran's Houston Astros were up 3-2 on the Cardinals before losing two games in St. Louis to end their run. In 2006, Beltran, then on the Mets, found himself one win away from the World Series yet again. He would end up making the final out of the series, striking out on an Adam Wainwright curveball, and sending St. Louis on to perhaps the most improbable championship in decades.
“We don’t talk about that. That happened a long time ago," he said of the fateful at bat. "There’s no need to talk about it. He did his job, he got me out. I wasn’t able to come through.”
Six years later, he found himself wearing the birds on the bat, and teammates with Wainwright. Beltran and the Cardinals were up 3-1 on the Giants, and the future Hall of Famer was again 27 outs away from baseball's biggest stage. The Cardinals would lose three straight and Beltran watched the World Series from home.
Not in 2013. He made sure of it. The Cardinal right fielder has driven in 12 runs in the postseason, including all three in Game 1 of the NLCS. In the deciding Game 6, he would break the deadlock on his way to driving in two more.
According to Beltran's wife Jessica Lugo, his focus on the NLCS-deciding contest began long before he got the the ballpark.
“I just turned to him and he was swinging in the bed and I’m like, 'okay,'” she said. Unable to sleep, Beltran had begun thinking about Friday night's matchup, and what had to happen to ensure he played one more series this season.
"I was thinking about baseball and it was like three in the morning and I was holding my hands just thinking about the game," he said. "Just thinking about what I needed to do and envisioned having success. That’s what I did this morning."
His restless morning led to a productive evening and as he and his wife smiled in the aftermath, Beltran finally was able to enjoy the end of an NLCS.
"The dream was good, but the reality is always better. This is fun," he said, "This is a dream come true for me and for my people that know me that are close to me. My family knows how much I want to be in this position.”
The 36-year-old said he never sleeps before big games. He says he sometimes takes pills to help him rest instead of thinking about the upcoming contest. I don't imagine he'll need them Friday night. Winners tend to sleep well. After 16 years, Carlos Beltran gets his shot at a ring.