A reminder why it's good to have Mookie Betts stick around

Rob Bradford
July 27, 2019 - 8:58 am

Mitch Moreland's young son ran across the clubhouse while his father waited in the doorway.

Like most of the other players' children, Swayze Moreland was wearing his kids small Red Sox home jersey. And like most kids at Fenway Park, it had a familiar name on the back.

"Betts".

"I told him he better wear my jersey Sunday," Moreland joked upon reeling his youngster.

This wasn't about not upholding the family honor. This was about being like Mookie. Young Moreland's dad wanted some of that good fortune the choice of garb had obviously brought his father's teammates. When somebody hits three home runs in one game, as was the case with Betts, you try and siphon whatever karma had been surfaced that night. (To watch all three home runs, click here.)

But while the images from the Red Sox' 10-5 win over the Yankees were defined by Betts' home run trots, there was an entire day's worth of reminders as to why Betts' presence for years to come should be prioritized. 

People can suggest Mookie should be a bigger star, but in Boston, he is the biggest star. And he's doing it in his own way, not the forced manner Major League Baseball keeps hinting at.

There is a reason Mitch Moreland's son wears a Mookie Betts jersey. And when Knox Kelly, son of Joe, goes into the Dodgers clubhouse and proclaims Betts as his favorite player that isn't a coincidence. In fact, go around Fenway Park and ask youngsters their favorite player and the vast majority will offer a one-word answer: Mookie.

The reason Betts should be viewed among the elite of the elite in baseball is obvious. That much was punctuated with the fifth three-home run game of his career. Sure, he doesn't have the numbers of a year ago, but for anybody else what Betts is supplying might be considered a career year. He has the eighth-best WAR among position players (4.5) while boasting a .289 batting average with 18 homers a .906 OPS and a major league-best 96 runs.

That, obviously, is a big reason Betts remains the Red Sox' fan favorite.

But there is -- and should be -- more to the equation.

Watch the video put out by the Red Sox where Betts interacts with 10-year-old Make-A-Wish participant Nico Sapienza. This is Mookie.

"I'm glad he came," said Betts regarding Sapienza, who requested a home run (and got three) from Mookie. "He was our good luck charm. He's a great kid. I think him and his family had fun down in BP and I think if I can kind of use the platform that I have to make people smile like that then I know I've done something well."

"It’s always cool when he smiles on the field," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "Today was one of those big nights. Hopefully, this is the beginning of something great here."

It certainly appears as though Betts' persistence this season is paying off, with the outfielder hitting .395 with a 1.175 OPS so far this month. That helps the narrative when screaming about paying the man.

But it is the combination of the player and the person which should be prioritized. He isn't going to be someone he's not, but who he is should be plenty good enough.

"It’s been a long year. Not the same as last year but you just have to kind of roll with the punches," Betts said. "Today was a good day. Got to get ready for tomorrow."