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Mookie Betts and Hank Aaron

Saturday 8/26/23

I saw some highlights of Mookie Betts' Fenway return last night. The game was on Apple+--whatever that means--so I'm sure there were many people unable to watch, me included.

Sports leagues are so horny for this kind of nonsense with apps and technology that they lose viewers. People want to watch a game, not fiddle around, download something, subscribe to something else, be forced to figure out how it works this time if they're going to tune in. Then a lot less people can watch a game like this of all things, with two storied franchises that rarely play in that particular ballpark and the return of a future Hall of Famer in his prime.

Watching these highlights--like when Betts took his first at-bat--it struck me just how much the Red Sox erred in not finding a way--if it was at all possible--to keep him. I know it was an overpay and of course all of these contracts are nauseating considering we're talking a game that is not important--it's a game, after all, a diversion, and it doesn't (or shouldn't) impact anyone's life very much who doesn't play it--but his value goes beyond his on-the-field abilities. I think guys want to play with Betts and look at him like he's really cool. As a face of your franchise, I don't know how you can do much better right now. He's not flashy, but he's very likable and he gets in no trouble and there's charisma to his game. And he's just a pure baseball player.

I'm not saying Mookie Betts is Hank Aaron, but they're both pure baseball players. They look the part, have the complete game, do it all, etc. Betts is going to hit forty home runs this year, but I wouldn't call him a home run hitter. But Aaron wasn't a home run hitter either. Or Ted Williams. They were hitters. Line drive machines and a lot of those line drives went over the fence. Dave Kingman was a home run hitter. But he wasn't a hitter. And I love Dave Kingman. That's how you want to do it--be such a pure line drive hitter that you end up hitting a bunch of home runs. You could, for instance, put Betts in a home run hitting contest, and he'd have next to no shot of winning. I believe he was in it this year. I don't know how he did, though my guess is he was likely at the bottom of the field. But he's going to hit forty bombs. He plays the game with enthusiasm. He's not very good in the postseason, but someone like that makes you a winner. Devers doesn't. Devers is a piece. Betts is the rare guy who is the guy. He's a transcendent player and there are very few you can say that about.

I'd say that Betts is the closest thing right now to Aaron. Again, I'm not saying he's nearly as good. But he's what a baseball player should be. Has the game, the swing, the athleticism, the build, the versatility, the smarts. He might win the MVP this year the way he's come on in the second part of the summer.

I thought when he left the Sox that he wouldn't be doing now what he's doing, because he's a wrist hitter, and wrist hitters can have issues as they get older. Or if you have hand injuries or anything like that. I felt like his hitting dipped some and he wasn't spraying the ball like he had, becoming more home run-reliant, but he has it going on this year. He may be better than ever. For me, his best season was 2016. Missed too much time in 2018 and I didn't think he was as effective across the board like he was two years prior. He makes your team go, too. This man scores a lot of runs, jumpstarts your offense. He's a big kick in a team's ass, but a kind of ebullient kick.

So many of these guys are brute force and one-dimensional, but you could put Betts in any era and he'd be a star. He's what a baseball player should be, especially as far as the regular season goes.


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