When David Ortiz retired, The Large Father left a sizable gap in the Red Sox line-up, erasing the one bat we could rely on to bail us our of practically any unsavory situation. Without that bat, the 2004 and 2013 World Series victories never happen. And we’re all feeling a little bit colder when October rolls round.
But Ortiz was more than The Greatest Clutch Hitter in Red Sox History. He was (and in many ways still is) the goddam Face of the Franchise. The guy whose smiling mug makes our troubles disappear. Russia controlling our elections? Global warming crushing our eco-system? Suitcase nukes primed to wipe civilization back to the Stone Age? Who has time to worry about that shit when Ortiz is driving the Dunkin’ Donuts truck on our TVs?
Subtracting Ortiz from the Red Sox equation has made life in the Nation suddenly, horribly different. This, we can all agree. But a quick look at our roster reveals we’ve already got Papi v2.
And that’s Mookie Betts.
Mookie does it all, we know this. He can bat lead off. He gets on base. He steals bases. He hits the long ball, which, as Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux once told us, chicks dig. As of this moment, he has more home runs than anyone in baseball and the best average of any player with more than 100 at-bats. According to BestOnlineSportsbooks.info, he’s gonna be the greatest player who ever walked the Earth. Or something like that.
But never mind the versatility. Part of what makes Mookie so watchable — and so endearing in an Ortiz-like sense — is the absolute joy with which he plays the game. He’s roughly the size of a sixth-grader and plays with the unabashed enthusiasm of one, whether he’s sheepishly watching a replay of himself on the video screen or chugging down the line, gold chain flapping in the breeze. Knowing that the kid is also a state bowling champion in his home state of Tennessee? That’s icing on the cake.
Hell, it’s a goddam scientific fact that simply saying the name “Mookie” makes you instantly feel 75 percent better. Try it. Right now. I’ll wait.
Feels good, right?
Plus, the kid does this:
Imagine feeling that good for the next twenty years.
Of all the players suited to fill Ortiz’s oversized shoes as Ambassador of Red Sox Goodwill, Mookie’s the one I keep coming back to (and, yes, I’ve considered Pedroia, but I like the fact that The Elf maintains a bit of edgy standoffish-ness. Plus there’s that whole Baltimore thing…). Deep down, you may feel the same way, too. And the fact that we haven’t yet locked up the future face of our franchise — a player we know has got the goods, as the old guys with clipboards say — is making me crazy.
Listen, Red Sox. In an age in which Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig are still getting paid more than the gross national product of India, you’ve got little excuse for not singing Mookie to a long-term deal. In fact, there’s no better time than the present. Let’s turn Cinco de Mayo into Cinco de Mookie and just make it official. Tell us Mookie’s on board for the next ten years. Build a wall and a franchise around the guy. Let him roll into next week’s Bronx series as the unofficial Mayor of Boston, and bring an Ortiz-esque hurting on the Yankees.
Don’t mess around with the Mook, guys. Just sign him up and let’s rock.