Baseball is Broken
Even though a Betts trade has been rumoured for months, baseball fans were still caught off guard when it actually happened. With all of the Mookie trade rumours swirling, I for one still couldn’t shake the feeling that Boston would figure out how to make sure one of their franchise greats retired in Boston. But to hear that the return for a top five player in the game didn’t even net top prospects Gavin Lux or Dustin May is shocking.
It’s one thing to trade Betts. As idiotic as it seems, if Betts is so hell bent that he will find $420 million in free agency next winter, I can somewhat understand the Red Sox wanting to recoup some assets in a trade. But for the BOSTON RED SOX to take a lesser return, so that the Dodgers would eat a good chunk of David Price’s contract, is absolutely asinine. That’s the type of maneuver that you’d expect from the Tampa Bay Rays or Pittsburgh Pirates (AKA poors) would pull.
This is why the MLB is in trouble. There have been plenty of star players traded in their prime. Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and Jim Thome have all been traded in lieu of contract extensions in favour of superior “asset management” (cheap ownership). But where Cleveland, Oakland and Baltimore are off the hook for decades of owners crying poor, Boston’s foray into responsible payroll management is the last straw.
In a sport without a formal salary cap, a sport where the wealthy franchises have never been afraid to flex their financial muscles to win a championship, the team listed by Forbes in 2019 as the 12th most valuable sports franchise in the world is suddenly terrified of the luxury tax. This is a team that had the core pieces of a 2018 World Series still under contract and poised to make another run, yet here we are.
The nausea of trading a superstar in his prime is only magnified by the singular star power that surrounds Mookie Betts. A true five tool player with big personality and a 100 kilowatt smile to boot, Mookie is the type of superstar that every team dreams on with every draft pick. Nobody in baseball is as talented and as marketable as Mookie.
This underscores a greater trend where many billionaire owners across baseball are crying poor, thrifting out their rosters and are shocked when fans are fed up. The fact that there are Pittsburgh Pirates fans at all is nothing short of a miracle.
Honestly anybody siding with Red Sox ownership calling Mookie “greedy” or “not worth the money” are the worst kinds of sports fan. Some fans are so concerned with counting the money of a franchise valued at $3.2 billion that they eat up all of the excuses and posturing. Sports are supposed to be about storylines, achievements, big games and athletes performing in big moments. But a certain subsection of sports fans get their jollies out of responsible spending and calculating WAR than they do with actually watching the sport in front of them.
If I was a Red Sox fan I would be positively sick of John Henry, the entire front office and the sport of baseball. In one offseason they lost their manager, star player and their faith in ownership to back a winning team. 2020 has just started and the new year certainly hasn’t been kind to them.
But at the end of the day, I am a Blue Jays fan who can’t help but quietly fist pump at the decline of the cocky Red Sox and their equally cocky fans. Looks like the AL Wild Card is wide open for the next few years. You just hate to see it.