Baseball needs an injection of charisma and that may be Mookie Betts. Mike Trout was recently scolded by Rob Manfred for neglecting that chore. Will Mookie?
Mookie Betts and Mike Trout are constantly linked since both are the ultimate example of a five-tool player. One or the other will be the Most Valuable Player for 2018. Trout – arguably the best player in baseball – has been there before. Betts should have been in 2016, but the history is what it is to paraphrase a famous football coach.
“Mike’s a great, great player and a really nice person, but he’s made certain decisions about what he wants to do and what he doesn’t want to do, and how he wants to spend his free time and how he doesn’t want to spend his free time. That’s up to him. If he wants to engage and be more active in that area, I think we could help him make his brand really, really big. But he has to make a decision that he’s prepared to engage in that area.” – Rob Manfred
Trout recently received a round of criticism from Commissioner Rob Manfred regarding Trout’s lack of engagement in marketing himself. The idea of essentially calling out a player for not marketing himself and therefore MLB is a rather unique approach. Trout has other ideas and certainly expressed them.
“I have received lots of questions about Commissioner Manfred’s recent statement. I am not a petty guy and would really encourage everyone to just move forward. Everything is cool between the commissioner and myself. End of story. I am ready to just play some baseball!” – Mike Trout
What does this have to do with Betts? There are a few approaches and one is an opportunity as baseball certainly thirsts for some marquee players and by marquee means prominence in commercial aspects that build brand recognition. Branding is the optimum word for the player, his team, and baseball.
The other issue is Betts himself. Betts – like Trout – is rather reticent. A player not prone to be an open book. Pictured as quiet, respectful, talented, hardworking and just about anything else one would want packaging for the brand. Is there a vacuum that needs to be filled? Trout apparently would rather stay on the outside, but what about Betts?
Baseball is sinking or stinking depending on how you look at it. The game is ponderous and tedious to the average fan. Games routinely go well over three hours in length and it is not unusual to see a park empty out by the seventh inning. Even Fenway Park. Baseball cannot be judged by Boston alone. A unique island in professional baseball. Can Betts energize the personality of the game?
Mookie can certainly package himself if he wishes to do so. There is a little trinket called a “Q Score” or a subsidiary being a Sports Q Score. This places a value on players – essentially product appeal. You can see how players are dropped from endorsements after an incident in which you certainly do not want your brand linked with.
Beyond all doubt, Betts ranks high in Q Score especially in Boston, but also elsewhere. Betts recently topped the board with the most All-Star votes as his talent is well-recognized. Betts could be a spokesperson for just about any product he wishes to endorse. The Red Sox as any local will tell you are branding giants with even Beth Israel Deaconess being (for a price) “The official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.”
I do believe Manfred has learned a lesson in his bully pulpit approach regarding Trout. Expect no similar pointed comments directed at Betts. I also think Betts is one who wishes to keep a private life private as best he can.