Rangers’ Willie Calhoun Calls Dodgers’ Mookie Betts ‘The LeBron James Of Baseball’
Mookie Betts
Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts both raved about what Mookie Betts brings on and the off the field during an introductory press conference after the trade with the Boston Red Sox, and that has become readily apparent.

Betts quickly began to make an impact with his play, and recently did so in conjunction with the L.A. Dodgers Foundation to provide essential items and voter registration services at no cost. Now, Betts has been involved in advocating for equality and social justice.

As the ripple effect of the Milwaukee Bucks protesting their NBA playoff game reached MLB, Betts and the Dodgers made a unified decision to boycott their game against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.

Betts then accompanied Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and teammates Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen. His stature as one of the best players in the sport and being outspoken prompted Texas Rangers infielder Willie Calhoun to compare Betts to L.A. Lakers All-Star LeBron James, per Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News:

“Mookie is the LeBron [James] of baseball,” Calhoun said. “He has a huge voice.”

“We have a platform to use and every time we use it, it seems to get blown up,” Calhoun said. “If a professional athlete takes a stand and it causes somebody to change their thought process, even a little bit, just think a little bit more, that’s more encouraging than where we have been before. Even baby steps.”

Although Betts had decided on taking a stand Wednesday, he informed teammates they were not expected to follow suit. Betts vowed to support them from the dugout had they elected to move forward with playing the game. Roberts also was going to pass on managing.

After open discussions in the clubhouse, the Dodgers arrived at the decision to support Betts, Roberts, first base coach George Lombard, strength and conditioning coach Travis Smith, and the overall fight against injustice.

Betts said the team bonding together pulled him closer than he already was to the organization.

Kershaw remains determined amid criticism

Players have faced plenty of criticism for their decisions it sit out games this week, and that has reached Kershaw, who has put the onus on himself to advocate for his Black teammates. Kershaw acknowledged he typically avoids reading comments on social media, had glossed over some of the vitriol hurled his way, but remains undeterred.

“What I would say first and foremost is we’re just doing the right thing. We’re supporting Black players, supporting the Black community, and what they’re going through,” Kershaw explained.

“If the roles were reversed and there was something that was really difficult for me or one of my other teammates, I would hope that we would have the support of our full team. It’s as simple as that.”

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our shows, and more!