In 1919, one year after winning the World Series, the Red Sox traded star right fielder Babe Ruth to the Yankees for cash. In 2019, exactly 100 years later and one year after winning the World Series (albeit by cheating) they traded star right fielder Mookie Betts to the Dodgers to save money. The first trade begat The Curse of the Bambino. Given that Red Sox owner Harry Frazee famously sold Ruth so he would have the money to fund a Broadway show, the curse seemed warranted. The Sox did not win the World Series again for another 86 years. I predict that this newer trade will beget The Curse of the Mookino and that the Red Sox will not win the World Series again until the year 2104. The city with the most well-known racist history in the country (among cities that have an MLB team) jettisoned the best Black ballplayer they ever produced and the best Black ballplayer in the game today. If that doesn’t warrant a new curse, I don’t know what does.
Well, here’s something else that does. In addition to Betts, the Dodgers got pitcher David Price – a former Cy Young winner and 2018 World Series hero – and cash from the Red Sox for outfielder Alex Verdugo and two prospects – catcher Connor Wong and… wait for it… shortstop Jeter Downs. Yes, the Red Sox acquired a player who is literally named after longtime Red Sox nemesis and Yankees legend Derek Jeter! This may result in a double curse and could well mean the Sox will have to wait not 86 years, but rather 172 years, for their next title. But think of how big the party will be when the Red Sox finally win the World Series again in the year 2190! The parade of hover-cars in the skies over Boston will be epic… if our alien overlords allow the hover-cars in their sky space. Of course, if the Sox make further trades and acquire future players with names like Dimaggio Jones, Mantle Smith, Gehrig Burns, Mattingly Morris, and Judge Jablonski, you can add a few hundred more years to the curse.
Some may argue that Mookie Betts is no Babe Ruth. While on the surface, they may appear quite different as Betts is 5’9″, 170 pounds, while Ruth stood 6’3″, 220 pounds, let’s take a closer look and compare them in some very key areas.
All-Around Skill set:
Both are five-tool players (hitting for average, hitting for power, running, throwing, and catching the ball). No, Babe didn’t have great running ability, but he was the top lefty pitcher in the American League for several years, before switching to the outfield full time. So I’m counting pitching as his fifth tool.
Mookie has been known to deliver meals to the homeless, while the Babe was known to deliver hot dogs from vendors directly to his own mouth during games.
Big money contracts:
In 1930, Babe signed a huge contract (a whopping $80,000) that made him higher paid than President Hoover, which he justified by saying “I had a better year than he did.” In 2020, Mookie signed a huge contract paying him $365 million for 12 years, which is more money than God (though, to be fair, God presumably doesn’t need money), which can be justified by the fact that Mookie has already done more to help the Dodgers than God has done to help humanity lately.
Babe was the Sultan of Swat. Mookie is a distant cousin of former princess Meghan Markle. Edge: Babe (If Harry and Meghan had remained royal, the result might be different, given that exhaustive research indicates Ruth’s Sultanship was merely an honorary title.)
WAR (Wins Above Replacement Level Player):
At age 28, Mookie already has 45.2 career WAR, which is really, really good. Babe had 182.5 career WAR, the most all time.
Mookie is an excellent base stealer with 136 career stolen bases and just 27 times caught stealing for a fantastic 83.4% success rate. The Babe, despite being remembered for his portly stature, had a surprisingly high 123 steals. But… he was also caught stealing 117 times. And the first 13 steals of his career came before they kept track of the caught stealing category. So in the years that they were counting times caught, he was actually nabbed 117 times while stealing successfully only 110 times for an abysmal 48.5% success rate. Why did he run so often? Perhaps to get off the field more quickly and have a chance to eat another hot dog before he had to go back out on defense.
So as I’ve clearly chosen the six most important areas in which to compare the two stars, and the final tally is 3-3, we can safely declare their trades away from the Red Sox to be equally calamitous to the future of the venerable franchise. Prepare for the Curse of the Mookino.