In the midst of a hotly-contested Wild Card race — one which the Dodgers had no intention of being in when the season began — Mookie Betts still took some time to kick off a Cincinnati Reds rookie’s career on the right foot.
And yes, of course, he also chipped in to make sure a Cincy fan felt loved in the process.
It’d be easy for this Dodgers roster to sulk. After all, they were widely expected to run away with the NL West, only to find the San Francisco Giants in their path a year or four ahead of schedule. And look at the Yankees! Sometimes, falling below expectations can lead to a disastrous roller coaster ride.
Instead, Betts and the Dodgers seem more determined than ever, and are still finding joy and helping others while locked in this all-important stretch.
TJ Friedl, a 26-year-old outfielder who ranks outside the Reds’ Top 30 Prospects and was only just recalled from the minors, smacked the first hit of his career on Sunday. It also happened to leave the yard, a momentous occurrence for the rookie, but one that also made it significantly more difficult to retrieve the collectors’ item.
Never fear; Betts came to the rescue, securing the jewel, handing it off to Friedl, and replacing the ball with something special for the fans who caught it.
Dodgers star Mookie Betts helped Reds rookie TJ Friedl secure his first home run ball.
As Friedl told The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale following the game, the gesture obviously didn’t go unnoticed.
"“It’s incredible,” Friedl said. “For him to do something like that, it’s definitely just world class out of him. I want to go over there (to the Dodgers clubhouse) and just say thank you in person. Thank you is all I can really say because it means so much.“I want to find a way to say thank you to him.”"
Unfortunately, Cincinnati doesn’t get a crack at the San Francisco Giants down the stretch, so there’s no clear and obvious way for Friedl to help Betts directly before the offseason begins.
Still, it speaks to the upper reaches of Betts’ character that he was able to spring into action at a moment’s notice here, recognizing the importance of the home run to someone on another team he’d surely never interacted with, then executing his own plan perfectly.
A Reds homer nestling into the bleachers would’ve stung any other opponent; after all, this was very much a prime opportunity for LA to knock Cincy out of their personal playoff path.
Instead, Betts saw a chance to make someone’s day, and he knocked out two birds with one stone by creating a lasting memory for a fan in the stands, too.