Since the day he was dealt to the Dodgers, Boston Red Sox fans have equated Mookie Betts’ desire to explore free agency with some sort of unspoken acrimony towards the city and its fans.
For over two years now, the rift has persisted; Boston fans convinced themselves, en masse, that he was “never staying” no matter how fair the offer, and chalked his supposed petulance up to some grand distaste for his Red Sox teammates, leaders, and the adoring masses that bought his jersey. Not true. Never been true. And Betts is finally sick of it.
Confronted once again with the details of the end of his Boston tenure by Rob Bradford on WEEI’s Bradfo Sho podcast this week, Betts went out of his way to accentuate the positive rather than dwell on the negative.
Now, it might not work. Boston fans are delusional, and have already convinced themselves they won a trade that ended with the best player in the deal (league?) in another city/on another powerhouse long-term. But if Betts can remind Bostonians of the good times they had and that he had, he’s always going to grab that chance.
Dodgers’ Mookie Betts assures Boston fans he loved them, too
As Betts stated on Bradford’s podcast when asked about his relationship with the city ahead of an (eventual) return:
"“I just don’t want anybody, especially when I go back, man, I don’t want it to be like it was hatred or I didn’t want to be there. I loved everybody in Boston. I loved it. That was the best time of my life. Obviously, it’s a new chapter now and I’ve got to live where my feet are, but I’ll never forget all those memories, all those fans, and all the things I did in Boston, all the people, that was my life. It’s something I’ll never forget. Every time I go back to Boston, I’ll go back to all the places I used to go to and see all the people I used to see, and just tell everybody how loved (I felt) and thank everybody for the opportunity, the cheers, the boos, the happiness, the crying, the ups and … everything man. It was a great time in my life and I want to thank everybody for that.”"
Does that sound like someone who wouldn’t have stayed if the Very Rich Owners of the Red Sox had matched the Dodgers’ 12-year, $365 million offer during 2020-21 free agency? They could’ve afforded it and more. Instead, they’d rather be the puffed-up Rays, drawing pride from their efficiency, rather than the Dodgers, drawing pride from their dominance.
And, yes, who knows what changes and how much money’s available if Betts signs post-pandemic and is never traded? Clearly, the economic landscape was different. He may never have had the chance to truly test free agency and lay the groundwork for future stars. If the Sox hadn’t blinked first, he might’ve taken that hometown discount after all.
After the 2022 season, Xander Bogaerts may opt out and leave Boston as well. If he does, he won’t be sacrificing the beautiful memories he made with a franchise that made his dreams come true. He’ll just be following in Betts’ footsteps, exploring free agency only to find the Sox have no interest in participating.