Does Mookie Betts have the title of the best Mookie?
Mookie Betts entered the 2018 campaign on a mission.
Last year, he put up solid numbers through the 153 games he played. While the Red Sox topped the AL East with a respectable 93-69 record, they were edged out by Houston in the playoffs. To Mookie it wasn’t good enough, even though he was praised for his play.
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As the 2018 All-Star break nears, Mookie is already being considered a lock for the AL MVP to some. Some, not all, meaning most likely east coasters. Let’s not forget about that one guy in L.A. who is staring down the barrel of a potential third MVP. But give credit where credit is due. Mookie is having a season that will long be remembered. A season that’s putting him in baseball God discussions. That’s like Ted Williams territory.
Remember, back in 2016, which was his best season to date, everyone was talking like this. MVP this and future Hall of Famer that. Mookie was the only one not buying the hype.
At this time last year, those same talks arose and he nipped it in the butt stating with conviction, “I’m a realist and I know it ain’t getting much better than that,” Mookie said of his 2016 season. “When am I going to hit 30 home runs again? I don’t know if I ever will. When am I ever going to hit .320 again? I don’t know if I ever will.”
That quote right there tells us who Mookie Betts is as a ball player and as a human being. Very reminiscent to Hank Aaron. Aaron too was a no frills guy his entire career, chipping away throughout the years with bland numbers. It wasn’t before long he was battling the Babe and becoming MLB royalty before everyone’s eyes.
So if Mookie believes he’s not the guy most think he is or even the best in the AL, who is he then?
Well, technically he’s already the best ‘Mookie’. So there’s that.
He’s surpassed Mookie Blaylock in fame. Remember him? Former NBA star– no big deal. And Betts was nicknamed after him by his parents. Oh, and then there’s Mookie Wilson, who most believe Betts has already surpassed in baseball lore.
Knowing Mookie, he’d probably trade that in for a World Series ring like Wilson already has.
On a team filled with stars like David Price, Dustin Pedroia, JD Martinez and Chris Sale, and stars-to-be like Andrew Benintendi, somehow the Tennessee native stands out above all. Betts isn’t cocky or animated like David Ortiz was or doesn’t flash the glove like Pedroia or rock towering shots like like bash brothers Ortiz and Manny Ramirez did . He just does his own thing and he does everything right. And that seems to work for Boston.
Who knows, maybe ‘Mookie Betts’ is a name that will burst from people’s mouths in future baseball debates and acclaim. Since his 2014 rookie season, it really hasn’t yet though, so it’s hard to believe it will any time soon. Honestly, Major League Baseball’s lack of player-branding could even be to blame here. They have their stars, like Mookie, and don’t promote them like they should. Look at what the NBA is doing with LeBron James. Hell, look at what everyone is doing with LeBron James. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham, Ezekiel Elliott. The NFL’s list could go on and on too.
Where is the love for Mookie? Maybe, just maybe he might like it that way.
Earlier this year he turned down a contract extension by the Red Sox. Bostonians were all up in arms about that one. Maybe those are signs he wants to avoid the spotlight and get back to his Tennessee roots with a smaller market team. Pittsburgh? Cleveland? Kansas City possibly?
Or maybe he feels he hasn’t put his mark on the game yet. Now that’s something to think about.