Since arriving on the big-league stage in 2014, Mookie Betts has played an integral role in two of baseball’s biggest rivalries as a member of both the Red Sox—archenemies of the Yankees—and now the Dodgers, who just eliminated the hated Giants in a thrilling, five-game National League Division Series. Betts has been unstoppable of late, pummeling San Francisco with four hits in Thursday night’s clinching Game 5 at Oracle Park. So now that he’s experienced both, which rivalry packs a bigger punch?
“I don’t really know,” said Betts, trying his best to be diplomatic despite pressure from teammate Max Scherzer, who joined him at the podium after Thursday’s triumph in San Francisco. “That Yankees/Red Sox man, that’s mean. That’s different.”
With football—backed by its army of corporate sponsors—ruling the media landscape with an iron fist, playoff baseball may not be appointment viewing anymore, but it’s hard to do better than last week’s AL Wild Card between the Red Sox and Yankees, which ESPN reported as its most-watched MLB game in 23 years. The Dodgers’ showdown with San Francisco (who, amazingly, had never met in the playoffs before) was no less entertaining, pitting the league’s top two teams—at least in terms of record—against one another in a series that somehow exceeded its massive hype.
“This is definitely different. Maybe the different coasts. East coast people are different than West coast,” said Betts, who has cruised to a .458 average in 24 at-bats this postseason. “I don’t know. But it’s definitely a lot of fun to be a part of a rivalry like this.”
If the Dodgers take care of business against Atlanta in the NLCS, which begins Saturday, it’s possible Betts could face his former team in the World Series. Of course, the Red Sox would first have to fend off Houston, winners of two of the last four AL pennants.