Carlos Beltran closed one spectacularly successful chapter of his baseball career on Monday when he announced his retirement. Good on you, Carlos. Not many players have checked as many boxes: 20 seasons, nine-time All-Star and solid Hall of Fame credentials (2,725 hits, 435 home runs, 565 doubles, 312 stolen bases.)
Best of all, Beltran went out the way every Major League player would like to go out: with the sweet burn of champagne in his eyes. The World Series ring he'll receive next spring from the Astros is the sweetest possible retirement gift.
Did the World Series provide a final validation? No, Beltran did not need anything of the sort. He'd long since achieved validation if it's defined by greatness on the field, using one's fame to make the world a better place and gaining the respect of virtually everyone who crossed his path.
Here's the really cool part of all this: If you're thinking Beltran's baseball career ended on Monday, you could not be more wrong. His 20th season -- one in which he served as a mentor, coach, sounding board and player for the Astros -- was a preview of how exciting the next chapter is going to be.
Beltran and his family are going to take a year or two to do some of the normal things baseball players don't always have a chance to do. At some point, though, he'll be back.
When that happens, Beltran will be one of the more qualified managerial candidates to come along in recent memory. That's something he has thought about a lot in recent years as his role with the Yankees, Rangers, etc., became more and more that of senior statesman and clubhouse leader.
If managing in the Major Leagues is first and foremost about connecting with people, Beltran has a chance to be a really good skipper. Managing now is different than it was, say, 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.
It's about utilizing an avalanche of information, collaborating with front-office executives and surrounding oneself with competent people. Most of all, though, it's about building a relationship with every player, about understanding what motivates them and putting them in position to succeed.
Astros super utility player Marwin Gonzalez credits long talks with Beltran for a breakthrough season. At one time, almost every young player on Houston's team went to Beltran for advice, counsel or some combination of the two.
When the Astros lost Game 5 of the American League Championship Series and were a game from elimination, it was Beltran who called a postgame team meeting to calm things down.
Once, when Houston manager A.J. Hinch texted Beltran to ask if he was up for another game in right field, Beltran texted back: "Sure, I'm not as old as you."
For the record, Hinch is 43, Beltran 40.
Later, when Beltran had been reduced mostly to designated-hitter duty, it had been another veteran, catcher Brian McCann, who called a pregame meeting and oversaw a burial service for Beltran's glove. Beltran laughed along with his teammates, but he also got the larger point of interrupting the grind of the season by having a few laughs.
After Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel was caught directing an offensive gesture at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series, it was Beltran who counseled Gurriel and reached out to Darvish.
In 20 seasons, Beltran played with hundreds of players and for an assortment of managers, from Hinch and Joe Girardi to Mike Matheny and Terry Collins and others.
Beltran said he learned something from all of them, but that his most important lessons came from playing 2,586 games, in being part of seven postseason teams and in seeing the game from every angle.
Beltran had one of the great postseason runs of all time in batting .435 for Houston in 2004. He had other playoff years when he was reminded how difficult the game is. In that way, Beltran understands the highs and lows of the things players experience and how to utilize each's skill set into the overall good of a team.
Most of all, Beltran will be a successful manager because he understands people and because he has a chance to walk that line of being both liked and respected. His players will know he has no agenda other than winning. In other words, the very things that defined his playing career.