Is Mookie Betts the “new face of baseball?”
Via Boston Globe
FEBRUARY 19, 2017
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Major League Baseball isn’t like the NBA, where there’s a Michael Jordan-type superstar who becomes the “face of the sport.” MLB would love to promote its new superstars as the “face of baseball” so it can better sell the sport to kids and young adults.
To that end, the Red Sox may have the solution: Mookie Betts.
As the Derek Jeters and David Ortizes of the previous generation retire, baseball needs a player or two who can serve as an example of how great the sport is and how star players are exciting to watch and follow and to be held up as role models.
For one, Betts is a solid person with great values. He will never embarrass himself, his team, or his city. He has enormous talent. He should have been the American League MVP last season, because his extraordinary year helped his team to first place in the East, as opposed to MVP winner Mike Trout, whose Angels finished fourth in the West.
Betts wasn’t a high draft pick, either. It took him a couple of years in the minors to emerge as a real prospect. He began as a second baseman and then transitioned to the outfield, first in center and then last year in right, where he became the highest-rated defensive outfielder in the majors.
Bottom of Form
David Price, who often studies the bigger picture in baseball, says Betts is an ideal candidate to be the face of the sport.
“He’s got every attribute that would fit that ‘face of baseball,’ from his great talent, the excitement he creates on the field, how he does everything incredibly well.” Price said. “His personality is one that everybody loves and can feel comfortable with.
“He’s a winner. He does everything he can, whether it be in the outfield, the plate, the base paths to win a game.
“As he puts one great year in front of another, like Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, he’s going to be in that same realm.”
Betts is also African-American. MLB has struggled in recent years to fill rosters with more African-American players, and Betts could inspire young African-Americans to pursue baseball as a primary sport instead of basketball or football, a more hazardous game.
Betts has already seen a spike in endorsement opportunities since last season. MLB has also asked him to do promotions. He shot one Sunday at JetBlue Park, in fact.
And with Ortiz retired, Betts will be in the limelight even more this season, and the demands on him will increase.
But those who around Betts believe he will meet those challenges and also play a bigger role than just Red Sox superstar.
Betts isn’t a controversial figure and he’ll never say the wrong thing. He’s not going to be that opinionated player who garners attention by being loud. He’s very quiet, in fact. But without question, he’s classy in the way Jeter was.