Remember when I said I wouldn’t write another Mookie Betts piece? [Appropriate pause] I lied.
This baseball news just broke an hour ago.
DODGERS GET: OF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price, cash (all from BOS); RHP Brusdar Graterol, minor league outfielder Luke Raley, 67th pick in 2020 Draft (both from MIN)
RED SOX GET: OF Alex Verdugo, SS Jeter Downs, C Connor Wong (all from LA)
TWINS GET: RHP Kenta Maeda, a low-level minor league prospect, cash (all from LA)
Apparently, Mookie Betts & David Price are finally going to the Dodgers. According to anonymous sources (as always), the Red Sox have agreed to pay half of the $96 million left on Price’s deal. In a separate deal, Kenta Maeda, a low-level Minor League prospect & cash will go to Minnesota, with Brusdar Graterol, minor league outfielder Luke Raley & the 67th pick in the June amateur draft headed to Los Angeles.
The anticipated concurrent Angels-Dodgers deal will NOT be consummated, according to late night MLB reports. For now, Joc Pederson & Ross Stripling remain LA Dodgers. No word if Brusdar Graterol is eventually headed to Boston, but it’s presumed. Then again, a lot has been presumed, and nothing has gone according to script.
The piece I published yesterday, titled “Flushing the Mookie Betts salary dump” is now very much incorrect, but I leave it unedited because I have ethics. Plus, it’s time to move on, so here are my final thoughts on this seemingly never-ending drama.
I stand by everything I wrote about the Red Sox, MLB, and their media machinations, as well as all of the other medical/ethical issues I discussed. I don’t have a problem admitting I projected something wrong. I had excellent reasons to believe I was right.
The realities I laid out are chilling to any serious baseball fan that wasn’t aware of what was going on. This Betts deal was much bigger than just a swap of baseball players. This was political. Boston is most endeared to its Red Sox, as that franchise has the longest history, as compared to the Patriots, Celtics & Bruins.
Their beloved city franchise had to trade away their top stars to get under the luxury tax threshold, and this was very traumatic for them. Red Sox nation insisted that everyone else feel their pain. We did.
But a pearl of wisdom can be gleaned from all this. There are clearly deep divisions within the Red Sox organization, just as there is a factional war between liberal & centrist Democrats. In Boston, there are old-school diehards in the front office who wanted to keep Betts & Price, and they fought with the eggheads who were put in charge of dumping them, every inch of the way.
Sports is business, and business is politics. They all mirror each other, and what we saw this past week in the media, was complete dysfunction from an out-of-control Frankenstein known as the Boston Red Sox. They couldn’t make up their minds on what they wanted, because too many conflicting interests were in play.
The Red Sox leaked confidential medical records to the media, and mucked everything up. The Minnesota Twins, Brusdar Graterol, his agent Scott Boras, and the head of the MLBPA Tony Clark, all protested these despicable tactics by the Red Sox to manipulate trade negotiations. More than a few ESPN & MLB “reporters” deserve to have their press credentials pulled, for unethical statements to the media.
Twins GM Thad Levine played on this to get more on his end of the deal. It was all he could do, as he was under heavy pressure to capitulate. After all, these are the Red Sox, and they needed this deal to go through. Therefore, someone made Thad Levine an offer he couldn’t refuse. Expect no admission of wrong-doing or guilt from the Red Sox, it’s not their style. Either they: 1) win & gloat, 2) hate & whine, or 3) run & hide.
I intervened in this affair as a journalist by publishing an essay from the future– one possible future. I prophesied this deal would completely collapse, but it didn’t. But it was very, VERY close– and a lot of people came to know it.
Dodger’s GM Andrew Friedman deserves respect for dragging this son-of a-bitch through the mud and coming home with something worth smiling about. He had to dig deep, that’s for sure. But it should be noted that he played along as a silent partner when the Red Sox attempted to shakedown the Twins into kicking-in another prospect, after their being “spooked” by Brusdar’s Graterol’s medical records. Friedman knew (or should have known) that he was responsible for kicking-in something to satisfy the Red Sox, but instead hung a colleague (Thad Levine) out to dry, hoping it would be the Twins who would be forced to pay up. He knew.
We never heard much from the Los Angeles Angels during this saga. They were the least-invested team involved, always on the outside looking in, hoping the two behemoths could get everything worked out, without blowing it all up. Their owner Arte Moreno expressed frustration at being held in trade limbo, but there was nothing the Halos could do. It was the Twins who were they key to the deal, so the Angels got left out when the Dodgers had to go “all in” on Sunday.
Fans want trades to happen, as they shake things up & make the game more interesting. But when an organization with all the clout in the world, can hold up a mega-blockbuster deal like this, over unfounded & unethical statements to the media meant to gain leverage, then that organization needs to be sanctioned. That’s the take-home message, but I’m betting it gets lost in the fake news headlines.
Not since the 1986 World Series, when Bill Buckner let a Mookie Betts [!] grounder go through his legs, has there been so much shame & ignominy with the Red Sox. They’ve gotten what they wanted, but how they did it will not be forgotten. To mark this event in history, all this sports drama happened in synchronicity with the Iowa caucus/DNC debacle. Both were very ugly, for many of the same reasons.
Eventually, Boston Red Sox fans forgave Bill Buckner, after they finally won a World Series in 2004. I’m hoping my fans can do the same for me, a bit quicker, about being wrong here. It’s all about the process. Acting with a pure heart is an important part of that. Getting the facts straight is another.
Notice that I’m not apologizing for publishing that essay. I don’t regret it. The circumstances were that for three days, from late-Wednesday to mid-Saturday, MLB had nothing to say about this trade hold-up. NOTHING.
Baseball fans at the climax of the Hot Stove season were starving for information, perspective, analysis (anything!) to help them get an idea on what was happening. The Red Sox had clearly ordered a media gag on the Betts trade situation, so it could strong-arm a backroom deal. The Red Sox just need time and opacity.
I saw all this going on, and when the Brusdar Graterol pull-back by the Twins was reported by MLB on Saturday during the mid-afternoon, I knew I was right. The deal was falling apart, and the Dodgers & Red Sox were desperate to get the Twins re-engaged. This deal doesn’t get done without the Twins, otherwise it would have.
My perspective was that the Red Sox were guilty of many serious transgressions, and that it was more important to publish my essay concentrating on that angle, even if my trade collapse prediction turned out to be wrong– which it did. It was more important to be influential to a targeted audience at a critical juncture, even if it meant the embarrassment of being proven wrong on something less important (but more hyped) a day later.
The impact of that essay was huge, as it answered a great many questions for Dodgers fans. I posted a link to that piece in a Dodgers blog, which was conversely linked in my essay, and it got traction. My intent there was to educate some die-hard baseball fans who were hurting. I’m a Padres fan, so I took a few shots at their GM, but it was all in good sporting spirit– because it’s just a game between us. But the Red Sox are another matter.
What I wrote helped many Dodgers fans come to the sober realization that the Boston Red Sox & MLB are a mafia, and that their team was being extorted. If the Dodgers really want Betts & Price, then sweeten the deal– otherwise it’s no deal. Friedman kicked in more. He almost had to, with all he had invested. That’s how the Red Sox, and any mafia, get you. This deal has great potential to be cursed, with all the bad juju surrounding it. I’m an atheist, but karma is real.
I honestly don’t care if I’m totally wrong about a trade prediction. Who cares? This is baseball, and no one who has any kind of career bats 1.000– or has an ERA of 0.00. I care much more about all the malfeasance & unethical actions of the Red Sox, MLB & ESPN. When is there going to be a hearing on that?