The Bigger Picture: The Dodgers grab Mookie Betts and David Price


Above caption:  L.A. lands Betts in blockbuster trade, MLB

American baseball player Jackie Robinson (1919 – 1972) of the Brooklyn Dodgers signs deal, 1947. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

For over thirty years the Los Angeles Dodgers have been trying to win the World Series.  They have come close and in the past decade they have regularly won their division.  In the past three years they made it to game seven of the World Series only to lose to the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox respectively.  Enough is enough!!  For their 2020 run they have a lot at stake.  Among other things they will host the All-Star game.  As they prepare for spring-training in a couple of days, up until yesterday it looked like business as usual; favored to win their division but a longshot of getting back to the World Series.



Yesterday evening they vaulted as the perennial favorite to be thronged as 2020 World Series champs, at least on paper.  They grabbed superstar Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox.  Both are impact players the Dodgers badly need if are to be taken seriously.   Betts brings all of the tools which have made him a coveted “find.”  Price brings a veteran arm to strengthen a pitching corps which recently saw Hyun-jin Ryu and Kenta Maeta depart via trades.

 

The bigger picture

 

Professional sports is a lucrative business.  Like any organization or corporate body, they are defined by how they embrace corporate responsibility.  When the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson in 1945 as the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball (M.L.B.), it was more than just a regular signing.  He made his debut on April 15, 1947 and it was a turning point in our society.  The Dodgers were rewarded then and up until recently by many, particularly the African-American community for taking a gesture that can be traced as the beginning of the modern civil rights era.  People, even those who didn’t live in Brooklyn or for that matter weren’t necessarily baseball fans, the Dodgers became their favorite team.

 

Jackie Robinson’s legacy gets stronger every year especially for those who have access to information like never before.  Unfortunately for the Dodgers all of the goodwill from their Jackie Robinson connection has recently come under question.  Last year the genie came out of the bottle as the media started reporting what many had known: the 2019 team did not have one African-American player on their roster.  To the chagrin of many, yes David Roberts who is the manager is African-American and some have African ethnicity but it was an eyesore that could not be explained, especially in Los Angeles.  A city that prides itself as a leader of a diverse population.  There are many reasons for the lack of African-American players but it was a new level of hypocrisy for the Dodgers to tout the signing of Robinson and round out their 2019 roster with a goose-egg.

 

Interestingly, both Betts and Price hail from Tennessee.  Their presence gets the Dodgers off the hook from a social and community perspective and more important their talent may be what is needed for them to get to the World Series and claim the crown.  In the meantime, only time will tell as winning is the name of the game.  While much has been written about the Robinson phenomenon, to their credit M.L.B. has taken on a strategy of incorporating more players of color by internationalizing the game.  While there has been a dearth of African-American players there has been a spike of players coming from the Caribbean and beyond (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Curacao, Venezuela and of course Puerto Rico).  So, the bottom line is the Betts, Price trade to the Dodgers allows them to refocus the spotlight on something positive versus something negative.


Fred Thomas, III is a lifelong Dodgers fan having attended his first game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with his father and older brother in the late ’50’s.

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