This generation doesn’t have a Ken Griffey Jr., but we do have Los Angeles Dodgers all-world outfielder Markus Lynn “Mookie” Betts.
At 5-foot-9 Betts is a bit shorter than the statuesque Griffey, but “The Kid” told you himself, that baseball isn’t about the size of the player, it’s about heart and skills. Betts has a lion’s share of both. We look forward to watching him walk these pitchers down and maybe even go 30-30 again in 2021.
The journey to those attainable goals begins today.
Baseball’s supreme Black Knight is a championship magnet, a five-tool baller and a Gold Glove soul patroller who has all of the boxes covered.
In 2018, Betts became the first African-American to win the American League MVP award since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997, breaking a 21-year drought. He also plays the outfield, and similar to Griffey in his heyday is carrying the torch for Black Knight ballplayers in MLB.
Betts is the embodiment of everything we are trying to illuminate here at Mlbbro.com. His standing as a Top 3 player in the game leaves him as the general of a cultural struggle between today’s baseball and Black people. He’s the middleman in a negotiation to convince Black America that baseball is not only invited to the sports barbeque but is bringing the potato salad.
Since 1947, when baseball was the sport that started the slow integration of America, Black faces have dominated MLB’s record books, increased the value of the league, helped popularize it, and contributed a level of athleticism and intelligence to the game that is unique to their cultural experience.
Players like Betts are vital to the survival of the sport here in America. He’s the continuation of that undeniable excellence.
Betts’ talent, charisma, million-dollar mug and unapologetic Blackness, as well as his multiple World Series championships, have made him a most notable and marketable MLB face; an authentic image of Black baseball excellence to sell to the younger generation.
When Boston traded Betts it sent shockwaves through MLB. When we found out that the World Series champion joined the Dodgers, the odds of LA’s first World Series since 1988 skyrocketed.
We know baseball isn’t basketball. Generally, one superstar doesn’t make you a champion. Betts, however, has an impact that his league-leading WAR can’t even accurately measure.
His appeal goes beyond the field and spills into fashion. Let’s not talk about Betts’ flavorful collection of cleats. His shoe game is probably Top 3 in MLB as well. He rocks everything from multi-colored, cancer-kicking, Minnie mouse cleats to Big-Papi-themed cleats to the Air Jordan hustler’s shoe. That’s just what he’s accustomed to.
The 12-year $365 million deal Betts signed in October of 2020 was deserving, but it’s hard for any player to live up to a huge contract in baseball, because the ability to make the postseason relies on so many variables outside of his control.
Ask Mike Trout, whose legacy struggles with that dilemma every day. Despite his historic offensive dominance, Trout has no track record on the big stage.
It’s not his fault, but it also isn’t Betts’ fault that everywhere he goes he gets rings and things. In fact, he’s gunning for another one, and at this point, who can count him out? He’s a movement by himself.