Mookie Betts is baseball’s No. 1

ARLINGTON, Texas — Since Derek Jeter and David Ortiz hit 40, Main League Baseball has searched far and vast for its subsequent face of the sport. They simply might need landed on that face Tuesday, and for that they will credit score … free tacos?

This argument, like free tacos, would possibly require somewhat extra time to digest. Know this, nonetheless: Once I Googled Mookie Betts’ title on Wednesday morning, the autofill took me to “Mookie Betts Taco Tuesday.”

Sure, the outdated fogies’ sport skilled a viral second on Tuesday night time. For not solely did Betts put collectively a superlative efficiency to steer the Dodgers over the Rays, 8-3, in World Collection Sport 1 at Globe Life Discipline, however when he stole second base within the fifth inning, he received each American a free taco at Taco Bell, as per a longstanding promotion; he proceeded to swipe third as properly, earlier than scoring.

After the sport, whereas showing on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” Betts grinned when anchor Kenny Mayne requested him if he considered stealing residence as properly.

“I simply wanted to get to second so everybody might have some tacos,” Betts stated.

The response was Jeter-esque: Intelligent with out attempting too laborious. Pure. Similar to Betts’ recreation itself, by which he will be the star of this month due simply as a lot to his protection and baserunning as his bat.

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Betts, 28, earned famous person standing with the Crimson Sox, for whom he received 2018 American League Most Useful Participant honors, but he has elevated his profile in his first year as a Dodger, who’ve signed him by way of 2032 and who’ve surrounded the precise fielder with superlative expertise. Therefore, Betts tops my first-ever Face of the Sport rankings. Who’s finest geared up to be a transcendent participant, performer and character who may help develop baseball?

1. Betts: The five-tool participant possesses the proper, low-key demeanor for a future of greatness in Los Angeles, an enormous market with branding alternatives extraordinaire. Plus, has there ever been an unpopular “Mookie”?

2. Aaron Decide, Yankees: Sure, he must play extra typically and cease visiting the injured record extra typically than most of us get COVID-era haircuts. The 28-year-old nonetheless stands as a singular expertise, although, and he nonetheless stands actually, actually tall; you may’t miss him. By no means underestimate the facility of the Yankees’ pinstripes.

3. Mike Trout, Angels: Sure, the 29-year-old is low-key and doesn’t actively search out endorsements. Come on now, although. That is all about his group’s chronic inability to surround him with a worthwhile roster. If Trout performed on the Dodgers, he’d be much better recognized and appreciated.

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4. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres: The 21-year-old (!) possesses mad expertise and an actual aptitude for the sport. Is he already the premier bat flipper? MLB introduced earlier this week that Tatis Jr. was the most-searched participant on MLB Movie Room, a public on-line video library. Good name, searchers!

5. Bryce Harper, Phillies: If he hasn’t was a constantly elite participant, he’s a perennial All-Star whose fiery character clearly connects with folks — and he simply turned 28. You like him otherwise you hate him, proper? If the Phillies ever can put collectively a adequate roster, Harper will probably be must-see postseason TV.

6. Juan Soto, Nationals: Such nice abilities. Such a dynamic character. Keep in mind when he matched the Astros’ Alex Bregman in final 12 months’s World Collection by dropping his bat by first base after homering? That was superior. He turns 22 subsequent week.

7. Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves: A ferocious expertise and solely 22. His solely disadvantage: The following individual to name Atlanta a baseball city would be the first … and will probably be escorted out of city.

8. Pete Alonso, Mets: His rookie 12 months of 2019 received’t be forgotten, his energy and vitality convincing you to order no matter he’s having. His sophomore 12 months 2020? Very forgettable. A turnaround mixed with a Steve Cohen Mets revival would put the 25-year-old proper again within the combine.

9. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers: If these guys preserve displaying up in October, there’ll be room for each Bellinger, 25, and Betts to shine.

10. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees: At 30, he’s the oldest man on this record and probably the most fragile, too. Nonetheless, he confirmed earlier this month simply how good he will be when he’s locked and loaded.

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