NEW YORK — Carlos Beltrán is out as manager of the New York Mets before a single game, the latest fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball.
The Mets announced the decision Thursday in a news release, saying Beltrán and the team “agreed to mutually part ways.” The move came two days after Boston cut ties with manager Alex Cora, who was Houston’s bench coach in 2017 when Beltrán played for the Astros.
A day before that, manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired by Houston soon after they were suspended for the 2020 season by Commissioner Rob Manfred for their roles in the cheating scheme.
Next to fall was Beltrán, the only Astros player mentioned by name Monday when MLB issued its findings from an investigation into the club’s conduct. No players were disciplined, but the nine-page report said Beltrán was among the group involved in the team’s illicit use of electronics to pilfer signs during Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship.
“We met with Carlos last night and again this morning and agreed to mutually part ways. This was not an easy decision,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement.
“Considering the circumstances, it became clear to all parties that it was not in anyone’s best interest for Carlos to move forward as manager of the New York Mets. We believe that Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. We are confident that this will not be the final chapter in his baseball career. We remain excited about the talent on this team and are committed to reaching our goals of winning now and in the future.”
On a later conference call, Wilpon said the team had heard in advance “from sources” that Beltrán wasn’t going to be suspended by MLB.
“I think the change was that when the report did come out, how prominent he was in it,” Wilpon said.
The Mets said they will consider a number of internal and external candidates to be their next manager.
The 42-year-old Beltrán, with no managerial experience, was hired to replace Mickey Callaway as Mets manager on Nov. 1. The former New York slugger was given a three-year contract with a club option for 2023 and introduced three days later by Van Wagenen and Wilpon during a news conference at Citi Field.
“At a meeting this morning with Jeff and Brodie we mutually agreed to part ways. I’m grateful to them for giving me the opportunity, but we agreed this decision is in the best interest of the team. I couldn’t let myself be a distraction for the team. I wish the entire organization success in the future,” Beltrán said in the statement.
Beltrán becomes the first manager to be let go without managing a game since Wally Backman, who was hired by Arizona in November 2004 and fired four days later after legal and financial problems were revealed.
When the Mets hired Beltran in November, Van Wagenen said: “We can trust Carlos, and that goes a long way.”
A little more than two months later, Beltrán is out in the wake of transgressions that occurred with a different organization, according to MLB.
And the Mets are looking for a new manager again. They will be the 10th team to change managers since opening day of last year, with the Mets making a pair of switches.
Beltrán played the last of his 20 big league seasons with the Astros in 2017. Manfred said that year Cora was “an active participant” and developed the sign-stealing system used by the team, strongly hinting he will face severe penalties. Even though Cora was subsequently let go, the Red Sox remain under investigation for stealing signs during Cora’s first season as manager in 2018, when they won the World Series.
In a Nov. 12 report by The Athletic, ex-Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, now with Oakland, went public with allegations that Houston players used a camera to steal signs in 2017. That prompted baseball’s investigation, which found the Astros used the video feed from centre field to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal batters what kind of pitch was coming, believing it would improve their chances of getting a hit.
Beltrán told the New York Post in a text message he was “not aware of that camera.” He told The Athletic the Astros “took a lot of pride” in studying pitchers via computer before games but insisted “that is the only technology that I use.”
Attempting to steal signs with the naked eye is a legal and time-honoured part of baseball — but using technology during games is prohibited.
“(In) the game of baseball, guys for years have given location and if the catchers get lazy and the pitcher doesn’t cover the signs from second base, of course players are going to take advantage,” Beltrán said then. “I don’t call that cheating. I call that using the small details to take advantage. I think baseball is doing a great job adding new technology to make sure the game is even for both teams.”
Manfred said Hinch failed to stop the sign stealing in Houston and Luhnow was responsible for the players’ conduct even though he made the dubious claim he was not aware. Manfred said owner Jim Crane was not informed.
Manfred also said no Astros players will be punished because he decided in September 2017 to hold a team’s manager and GM responsible for sign-stealing infractions, a warning that was conveyed to all major league clubs.
“Virtually all of the Astros’ players had some involvement or knowledge of the scheme, and I am not in a position based on the investigative record to determine with any degree of certainty every player who should be held accountable,” Manfred said.
The report, however, indicated a group that included Beltrán discussed how to improve the sign-stealing system during the 2017 season.
Hinch and Luhnow, before they were fired by Crane, were suspended for the 2020 season without pay. Houston was fined $5 million, the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and the Astros also will forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.
A nine-time All-Star, Beltrán signed a $119 million, seven-year contract with the Mets in January 2005 and helped them win the NL East in 2006. But the switch-hitting outfielder took a called third strike with the bases loaded against Adam Wainwright that ended New York’s 3-1 loss to St. Louis in Game 7 of the 2006 NL Championship Series.
Beltrán played for the Mets from 2005-11 before they traded him to San Francisco. He finished his career with a .279 batting average, 435 home runs, 1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases for Kansas City, Houston, the Mets, San Francisco, St. Louis, the Yankees and Texas. He interviewed to become New York Yankees manager after the 2017 season, when Aaron Boone was hired, and spent the 2019 season as an adviser to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
Last month, the Mets hired Hensley Meulens as bench coach and Tony DeFrancesco as first base coach to fill out Beltrán’s staff. Meulens, 52, was San Francisco’s hitting coach from 2010-17, then was Bruce Bochy’s bench coach for the past two seasons. DeFrancesco, 56, spent the last two seasons as the Mets’ Triple-A manager and interviewed for the manager opening.
New York went 86-76 last season and missed the playoffs, finishing third in the NL East behind Atlanta and World Series champion Washington.
These are the other 8 victims who died in the Kobe Bryant crash – Global News
A total of nine people were killed when Bryant’s private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter went down in foggy conditions on Sunday, investigators said. The helicopter was on its way to a girls’ basketball game when it crashed.
So far, here’s what we know about the people who died with Bryant in the crash.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant killed in helicopter crash near Los Angeles
Gianna Bryant, 13, was the second-oldest of her father’s four children, all of them girls. She was commonly known as Gigi and was a rising star in girls’ basketball.
Bryant took an active role in coaching Gianna at his Mamba Sports Academy, and he once touted her as a basketball star in the making.
He told Jimmy Kimmel in an 2018 interview that he didn’t need a son to carry on his legacy because he had Gianna.
“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans would come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me,” Bryant told Kimmel. “And they’ll be like, ‘You’ve gotta have a boy, you and (Vanessa) gotta have a boy. You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy.’
“She’s like, ‘Oy, I got this,’” Bryant recalled. “I’m like, ‘That’s right. Yes, you do. You got this.’”
Alyssa, Kerri and John Altobelli
Alyssa Altobelli, 13, and her parents, Kerri and John Altobelli, were also killed in the crash.
John Altobelli, 56, was the longtime head coach of the Orange Coast College baseball team in Southern California.
The college described him as a “coach, a colleague, a mentor and a friend” who had worked there for 27 years.
“He truly personified what it meant to be a baseball coach,” the school’s athletic director Jason Kehler said in a statement. “The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none — he treated them like family.”
Alyssa played on Gianna’s team at Mamba, CBS News reports. Kobe Bryant praised Alyssa’s defensive game in an Instagram video last November.
Christine Mauser, 38, was a girls’ basketball coach at a private school and a wife and mother, according to Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley.
Christina Mauser’s husband, Matt, shared his memories of her in an emotional interview with the Today show.
“It’s horrible,” he said. “I got three small kids and am trying to figure out how to navigate life with three kids and no mom.”
He explained that Bryant had hand-picked his wife to be an assistant coach for Gianna’s Mamba Academy basketball team.
“He picked her because she was amazing,” Mauser said. “I was so proud of her and she was so happy.”
Christina Mauser is survived by children aged 11, nine and three.
“She was beautiful, smart, funny,” Matt Mauser said.
Sarah and Payton Chester
Sarah Chester and her middle school-aged daughter, Payton, were on the helicopter due to a break in their normal routine, Payton’s grandmother Catherine George told NBC News.
“They had to get on the helicopter as a convenience today,” George said. “They usually drove by car.”
Todd Schmidt, who was the principal at Payton’s former elementary school, described the Chester family as “engaged, supportive, encouraging and full of mischief and laughter.”
“This family made such a huge impact,” Schmidt wrote on Facebook. “While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important … Their impact was just as meaningful, their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken.”
Friends and colleagues have identified the pilot as Ara Zobayan, the New York Times reports.
Zobayan was a longtime pilot and a dedicated flight instructor, student Darren Kemp told the Los Angeles Times. He added that Zobayan was Bryant’s private pilot whom he trusted.
“He doesn’t let anyone else fly him around but Ara,” Kemp told the L.A. Times.
Zobayan received his commercial pilot certificate in 2007, CBS reports.
—With files from The Associated Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Kobe Bryant will be inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame this year, report says – CBC.ca
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is bypassing the normal election process and making the late Kobe Bryant the first inductee of the 2020 class, The Athletic reported Monday.
“Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said, per the report. “Kobe will be honoured the way he should be.”
Bryant, 41, died Sunday along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif.
As an 18-time all-star, a five-time NBA champion and the fourth-leading scorer in league history, Bryant was virtually assured of being elected on the first ballot in his first year of eligibility this year anyway.
The other 2020 finalists will be announced Feb. 14 during all-star weekend. The rest of the class will be announced in April at the Final Four, and Bryant’s posthumous induction will take place in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 29.
WATCH | Raptors, Spurs honour Kobe Bryant with on-court tribute:
These 2020 Grammy Performances Were So Heartfelt, They Made Everyone Emotional – Showbiz Cheat Sheet
Over the years, viewers have gotten to witness some pretty incredible musical performances take place on The Grammys‘ stage. Some of which have left many of us speechless and are still talked about to this day.
Now that the 2020 Grammy Awards have come and gone, there are a few performances from the night that are very deserving of being added to the list of the most unforgettable and emotional moments in the award show’s history.
Lizzo kicked off the show with an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant
Last night was a bittersweet evening as many people mourned the death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who died the same day in a helicopter crash.
News of his tragic passing sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry, leaving many fans and celebrities experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions.
With this unexpected news coming to light a few hours before the 2020 Grammy Awards, many celebs taking the stage that night decided to honor the late legend with vulnerable yet powerful performances.
Lizzo kicked off the ceremony with a showstopping performance she dedicated to Bryant. “This night is for Kobe,” she shouted before performing a medley of her hit songs, “Cuz I Love You” and “Truth Hurts.”
Oh, and we can’t forget about that impeccable flute performance!
Demi Lovato couldn’t hold back tears while performing “Anyone”
Demi Lovato made her comeback to the Grammys stage and music with an emotional performance of her new song, “Anyone,” which she penned just days before her drug overdose in July 2018.
The singer took to the stage wearing a white ballgown with only a pianist accompanying her. Just a few seconds after the song began, Lovato was overcome with emotion and ended up restarting the track as tears rolled down her face.
Lovato went on to deliver a tearful yet powerful performance that earned her a standing ovation from the audience and viewers.
Billie Eilish delivered a beautiful rendition of “When The Party’s Over”
In addition to being the night’s biggest winner, Billie Eilish also gave one of the most incredible performances of the evening with her intimate rendition of “When The Party’s Over” from her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?.
The singer took the stage and wowed fans with her beautiful vocals as her brother/ producer, Finneas O’Connell, played the dreamy tune on the piano.
No one could seem to take their eyes off of her as she poured herself into the emotions of every lyric while giving the most heartfelt performance of her career.
Camila Cabello’s heartfelt tribute to her dad
Just when we thought we cried enough during the 2020 Grammy Awards, Camila Cabello goes and delivers an emotional performance that made everyone watching shed a tear or two.
Before the show aired, The Grammys teased that Cabello would be performing a song dedicated to a “special man” in her life.
While many of us thought the song would be all about her boyfriend, Shawn Mendes, the emotional track turned out to be all about her father.
During her performance, the former Fifth Harmony member belted out the lyrics, which shined a light on the special relationship she has with the first man who’s ever loved her.
As she sang, home videos of the father-daughter duo played in the background. Near the end, Cabello walked up to her dad, who had tears streaming down his face, and sang the last few verses.
After wrapping her performance, Cabello and her father embraced as the audience wiped tears from their eyes.
Nipsey Hussle remembered during a powerful tribute
Toward the end of the night, John Legend, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch, and YG took to the Grammys stage to give a heartfelt performance paying homage to Nipsey Hussle, who tragically passed away in March 2019 after being gunned down in Los Angeles.
“Long live Nipsey Hussle,” Khaled said as he took the stage, encouraging the audience to rise to their feet. Legend then accompanied Khaled on piano for a performance of Hussle’s posthumous track “Higher.”
The performance ended with images of Hussle of NBA star Kobe Bryant projected on the screen and Khaled sharing a few heartfelt words honoring their legacies.
“Rest in peace, Nispey Nussle. Rest in Peace Kobe Bryant,” the DJ said. “Long live Nip. Long live Kobe. The marathon continues.”
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