Mookie Betts Is The MLB GOAT But He Knows You Have To Be Continually Tested To Improve
Mookie Betts is the only player in MLB history to achieve a World Series win, MVP, Silver Slugger award, Gold Glove and batting title. Despite this GOAT record, he still insists on crediting his success to those around him.
When it comes to the crucible of success, he knows better than most that the untested contender will never come out on top…
RSNG You’re the type of guy who accepts plaudits and congratulations, but you never say it’s solely down to you?
MB “Well, I know I can get individual awards, but at the end of the day, it is a team game and I’m not playing these innings myself. The Boston Red Sox is an organization, there is a squad of players, a backroom staff and a lot of other people.
“For any of us to be able to go out there and perform to the best of our ability, we need to be fit, healthy, practise and prepare well, know that we trust each other on the field and also be there for one another.
“If none of those things are in place, then you can’t even begin to reach your potential in just one game, never mind for the whole season. So, that’s one small reason why I will never think twice about thanking everyone else.
“I know that they would do the same in return, and we all understand what it takes to get even just one play right.”
Nothing is going to be straight-forward – and even if it is you’re not going to be tested, so how can you ever improve as a player or as a person?
RSNG How did it feel being drafted by the Boston Red Sox and then working your way through to the AA?
MB “I was happy to be able to get ‘Double A’, because once you get there, you know that that’s the place where you can prove if you’re going to make it or not.
“Luckily, I was focused enough during that period knowing that if I could be calm and relaxed and concentrate on what was needed, I could play my best stuff. I just wanted to make sure that I was hitting the numbers that I wanted and go from there.
“But when the call from the Red Sox came to tell me that I would be promoted to the Major Leagues, that was amazing. My mind wasn’t on it, as I wasn’t sitting there every day waiting for the phone to ring. It actually took me by surprise.
“You always just hope that you’re doing well enough in the team that you’re currently playing for, you’re concentrating on that and if you’re doing well, then surely it will be a matter of time when that call comes.”
RSNG When you were selected you had to give up a place in the All-Star Futures game where the American League prospects play against the National League counterparts. Part of you must have been a little gutted?
MB “Haha! Yeah, I can’t lie, but you just go with the flow, realize that you’ve got a reason not to be able to participate in that match – which I was so really looking forward to – and just accept that.
“Then, I was picked to make my debut for the Boston Red Sox at the Yankee Stadium the very next day. So, I didn’t really have to wait long to be able to get that match frustration out!”
RSNG Another change that you had to make quickly was to change your position on the field. How did that go? Was it something you transitioned to without a problem?
MB “Well, I was more flattered that the Red Sox were happy to promote and find a space for me so early on in my career. I played second base and there was a good player already there in that position – Dustin Pedroia.
“But I had experience of changing and playing different positions in the Minor Leagues, so it was something I was used to and also a great challenge to rise to. It makes you what you become.
“Nothing is going to be straight-forward, and also, if it is, you’re not going to be tested. So, how can you ever improve as a player or as a person? With that experience, you have the opportunity to try those new challenges.
“I have been fortunate enough to have those opportunities early in my career and that has been a blessing. Because the higher you move up, the more everything escalates.
“The ball travels quicker from the pitcher, so quicker onto the bat, the hitters can time their connection better, the ball comes to the field quicker – it’s all intensified and you really are tested then.”
For me it’s about physical downtime but also mental. It’s not just the time you are playing, it’s the psychological endurance
RSNG How do you spend your time away from baseball?
MB “I like to relax, but I always seem to wake up early no matter what. So, I’m not sure if I am getting enough sleep! I actually get far more sleep during the season. Maybe it’s because of the energy expended through playing games, and not being tremendously active when I’m not playing.
“For me it’s about physical downtime but also mental. It’s not just the time you are playing, it’s the psychological endurance you have with the whole matchday operation, the traveling, the intensity. Even nerves and nervousness can be physically draining, so to totally switch off from all of that is actually a real blessing and something I have worked hard to do.
RSNG I read that part of your downtime schedule involves tenpin bowling. Have you thrown a perfect game?
MB “About eight times, now I think. My mother is a very good player, as well. It’s hand-to-eye coordination so it all fits.
“You will find baseball players are generally good at a whole range of hand-to-eye skills. There will always be another career for me as a decorator, haha!”
RSNG Wasn’t your mother your baseball coach when you were younger. How did that work out?
MB “Yeah, she wasn’t bad at all. She was good. She didn’t really tell me to do that much, she was more of a coach who would encourage me, let me play. I think my mother actually tries to actually give me advice and coach me now, more than before, haha!”