Any fan or follower of the Red Sox has probably grown to love Mookie Betts over the past couple of years. The 2018 AL MVP is undoubtedly a five-tool player who brings energy and joy to the game of baseball day in and day out. Betts was traded a few months back to the Dodgers, and most Red Sox fans seem to be blaming the organization for the breakup instead of Mookie himself. I am here to tell you why Mookie Betts is to blame for the premature ending to his Red Sox career and there is a darker side to the superstar that fans are ignoring.
After David Ortiz retired following the 2016 season, Mookie Betts has been the unquestioned face of the Red Sox franchise. There is a big difference between a star and a face of a franchise: A star is a player who sells jerseys and is in commercials. A face of a franchise is a player who understands how to lead a team and put the team before himself. Does a franchise player turn down a $300 million contract to ask for a $420 million contract? We all know Betts will never spend this much money in his life. His asking price was so high simply because he thinks it will help his status and get the respect of other superstars around the league. It would be near impossible for the Red Sox to be competitive if they had to pay one player so much money. Instead of thinking about the terrible situation he was putting his organization in, Betts was only concerned with getting as big a contract as possible, regardless of the negative consequences it might have on his team. He is the classic selfish, greedy player who doesn’t prioritize winning.
Going back to the “face of the franchise” label, not only is he a leader to his team, but Betts also has millions of young individuals looking up to him. Think about the example he is setting for kids. He is essentially teaching them to do whatever it takes to satisfy your own needs even if means hurting the people closest to you. Rather than trying to make it work with the team that drafted him, developed him, and helped him become the great player he is today, Betts was determined to go where he could get the biggest contract, even if it meant leaving the franchise that treated him like royalty.
Far too many sports fans, and baseball fans in general, are convinced that it is a necessary career decision for athletes to ask for as much money as possible. However, the reality is that fans have let players brainwash them into thinking that this is true. Mookie is a prime example of this, who has said in interviews that he doesn’t want to be sold “short of [his] value” and that he wants to be “treated fairly.” He is making himself seem like the victim, blinding people from the fact that he is being completely unreasonable. In essence, the four-time all-star was making the Red Sox choose between him or having a competitive team.
Although he has won a World Series, Mookie Betts certainly doesn’t have the mindset of a champion. If he was truly concerned with sustaining team success, Betts would not be demanding a ridiculous contract that would inevitably result in the Red Sox losing multiple talented, young players. You have to understand that whether he is making $300 million or $420 million, Mookie Betts will be in fantastic financial shape for the rest of his life. Financial security is not the reason for demanding a $420 million contract. He is simply valuing his brand over his team.
Real champions have a totally different mindset. Let’s look at one of the greatest leaders in sports history, Tom Brady: Here is a guy who has won six Super Bowls and is considered the greatest QB of all time. Although he is one of the more valuable players in the league, he doesn’t worry about having the biggest contract. Brady has taken multiple pay cuts during his Patriots career because he wants the “competitive advantage” of having good players around him. By taking less money, the Patriots were able to afford better players, which is why they have had such an incredible team for so many years. While Brady’s priority is winning rings, Mookie Betts has much more selfish motivations.
We, as a society, need to stop believing that the players are always doing the right thing when they ask for more money. Mookie Betts is a great player and he will be for many years to come, but it is frustrating to see how he let greed get in the way of potentially becoming a Red Sox great. If he had more team-orientated goals, Betts could’ve had one of the better careers in Red Sox history.