The new $380 million outfielder made his debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night, while also making some headlines.
The Los Angeles Dodgers betted on Mookie from Boston this offseason, trading for the former AL MVP in a three way deal with the Boston Red Sox (his former team) and Minnesota Twins.
And Thursday was finally the night of reckoning after much anticipation.
Batting second in the lineup against San Francisco Giants righty Johnny Cueto, Betts went 1 for 5 with a hit and a run scored.
Finally got that one out of the way.
Statistically speaking, it wasn’t a banner night for the nine-figure man, as 1 for 5 equates to a .200 average for the game.
The hit, which came in the seventh inning, was merely a single. However, Betts would come around to score on a Justin Turner fielders’ choice later in the frame.
For what it’s worth, the Dodgers would score six more runs after Betts crossed the plate, amounting to what would be an 8-1 triumph.
But while it might have been Kike Hernandez‘s night at the dish (4 for 5 with two runs scored and five RBIs), one could say Betts was the rally-igniter on Opening Night. That’s not too shabby for a debut…
Overall, while the former AL MVP’s on-field performance was perhaps a tad underwhelming considering the expectations (at least the carboard cutout fans were satisfied! I think…) it was what he did before the game that truly made his Dodger debut memorable.
In a moment of solitude during the pre-game ceremonies, Betts was filmed kneeling during the national anthem, with Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy supporting their new teammate as he became the latest of many athletes to publicly profess their support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
It appears as though the Dodgers have been quick to develop a chemistry with their new star, which will of course be essential to a successful partnership over the next 13 years.
Something worth noting in the context of Betts’ silent protest was the gathering of both teams together before the anthem to kneel in unison to demonstrate their collective support of the movement.
Many Giants players as well as their manager, Gabe Kapler, opted to kneel during the anthem as well, to which Betts joined them.
These were the moments that proved to be bigger than the game.
Sure, it would’ve made for an even greater story had Betts had been more productive at the plate. However, Dodger fans should cut him some slack.
Taking the field in a meaningful game (the first regular season game since September 2019, no less) with a new team during a global pandemic had to be nerve-wracking, even for a superstar with a new contract.
Mookie will have 13 years to make an impact in Dodger blue.
For now, let’s take what we can get.