MOOKIE VS. MIKE

It’s been 48 days since the Red Sox lost Game 3 of the American League Division Series to Terry Francoa and his Cleveland Indians and 25 days since that decimated Cleveland Team took the Chicago Cubs, the team with the best record in baseball, to a seventh game in one of the most exciting World Series ever.

In case you are interested, it’s been three years, three weeks and six days since the Red Sox won Game 6 of the 2013 World Series, their third World Series win in this century and their first three after an 86 year drought.

It’s been just 10 days since the Baseball Writers of America gave the Most Valuable Player Award to Mike Trout instead of Mookie Betts, the most exciting young player to come along in the American League since………well, since Mike Trout. Mookie was, of course, every Red Sox fans’ favorite for the Award. I still think he should have gotten it but there’s not anything you can do about it.

There’s no question that Mike Trout is one of the most talented young players ever to play the game. In five years, he has won the Rookie of The Year Award, the Most Valuable Player Award twice and, in the other three years, including his rookie year, has been second in the voting for Most Valuable Player. At 25 years of age, 6’2”, 235 pounds, he is built like a full back, runs like a deer, hits for average and power, has a cannon for an arm, is one of the best defensive outfielders and base runners in baseball, plays the glamorous center field position and looks like everybody’s ideal picture of an All American Boy.

Mookie, on the other hand, by comparison, is a scrawny little 5’9”, 180 pound kid who looks like he’s having the time of his life every time he sets foot on a baseball field but doesn’t really fit the All American Boy mold. But, guess what, he runs like a deer, hits for average and power, had a powerful and accurate arm, is the best defensive player in baseball this year, is one of the best base runners in baseball, and plays one of the most difficult, if not so glamorous outfield positions in baseball, right field in Fenway Park.

Mookie did everything Mike Trout did this year and he did it for a team that won 93 and lost 69, finished first in the toughest division in baseball and lost in the first round of the Playoffs. Mike Trout worked his magic for a team that finished in fourth place in its Division with a record of 74-88, 14 games under .500.

Mike Trout has been compared to Mickey Mantle and his numbers, in his first five years, if anything, are better than the Mick’s. Even the most rabid Red Sox/Mookie Betts fan will have to admit that, based on numbers alone, it was a close call this year between Mookie and Mike. Unfortunately, only one could win and the Baseball Writers picked Trout.

As I said in an earlier article, even the Baseball Writers’ Association admits that ‘There is no clear cut definition of what Most Valuable means.’ It means different things to different people but I am sure that, in Boston, Mookie is still considered the Most Valuable. Unfortunately, he will not be listed in the record books along with other Red Sox stars who have won the honor.

The only Red Sox Player to win MVP since Mo Vaughn won it in 1995, was Dustin Pedroia in 2008. Previous Sox winners were Tris Speaker, 1912, Jimmy Foxx, 1938, Ted Williams 1946 and 1949, Jackie Jensen, 1958, Carl Yastrzemski, 1967, Freddie Lynn, 1975, Jim Rice, 1948 and Roger Clemens,1986.

Ironically, on this date in 1941, The Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio, edged out the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, for the MVP Award, even though Ted hit .406 that year. Of course, the fact that Joe played for the pennant winner with 101 wins while Ted played for the Sox who finished 17 games back had nothing to do with it. It may also have had something to do with Joe having a 56 game hitting streak that year.

Anyway, that’s over with and we have a long winter to look forward to. It is exaclty 88 days until the Red Sox open up their Spring Training Season with the traditional double header against the college teams and the next day play the Mets at Jet Blue.

They open the season at home this year against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 3rd, 5th and 6th, then fly to Detroit for a three game series against the Tigers before coming home, after a day off, to host the Orioles for two. They then play four against the Rays at home before going on the road to play three games at Tampa Bay and three at Baltimore before coming back home to host the Yankees for three. With 15 of their first 21 games against Eastern Division opponents, they will have their work cut out for them early.

In the meantime, I guess we’ll have to do what I always quote the great Rogers Hornsby as saying when asked what he did in the winter when there was no baseball and he said ‘I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for Spring.’

Before you know it, the truck will be leaving from Fenway bound for Fort Myers, pitchers and catchers will be reporting, and we’ll be off again for another year of baseball. It’s too early to begin to make predictions but, right now, the Sox look to be the team to beat, at least in the Eastern Division.

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