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Opinion: LeBron James joining Red Sox ownership is great news for MLB

Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY
·3 min read
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Dismiss, for a moment, the many times LeBron James proudly donned, or held aloft, a New York Yankees cap in a highly-public setting.

Ignore, if you can, the slobbering cries of the many man-babies of Beantown who are beside themselves a longtime tormenter of Boston now owns a chunk of the Olde Towne Team.

Forget – and this might be hard – the time LeBron brought four guys from the Y into TD Garden for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals and over 48 exquisite minutes of basketball, lifted the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Celtics and into the 2018 Finals.

All that doesn’t much matter now, really, unless you live life not to exult but to loudly legislate your grievances.

LeBron James will soon own a chunk of the Boston Red Sox. And if you don’t think that’s good for the Sox or Major League Baseball, well, it’s never too late to embrace change.

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Hey, we get it. Sports needs heroes and villains and geography, above all, can determine which side of the line an athlete might fall. Yet for both franchise and sport, the impact of a transcendent figure – even if just a small stake in a complicated, ever-evolving global sports conglomerate – cannot be underestimated.

The Red Sox are just 13 months removed from their modern moment of transactional shame – trading 2018 MVP and World Series champion Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Betts, of course, went on to win the pandemic-addled 2020 World Series with the Dodgers, all thanks to one jewel franchise’s decision to position the other to employ a perennial MVP candidate for the next decade.

Betts didn’t just transfer his skills from the American League to the National in 2020; he also found his voice, from his clubhouse speech to start the first spring training to his leadership – standing alone, really - in deciding the Dodgers would join hundreds of other athletes in a one-day strike to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Tuesday, a few hours before the John Henry-owned Boston Globe reported LeBron’s chunk in the Fenway Sports Group would now include the Red Sox, GQ published a stirring profile of Betts, how he learned to get paid what he’s worth, to never stop evolving, and to speak out when necessary.

Betts let it be known there was largely silence from MLB’s end both after dozens of players kneeled before the start of the season last summer, and after every team paused in the wake of the Blake shooting.

“I don't think the MLB was really worried about that,” Betts told GQ of a widespread boycott, “because if all the Black players in the MLB sat out, they wouldn't miss a beat.”

At this point, it’s unclear whether James will be an extremely silent partner befitting his smaller stake in the Red Sox, or if he’ll assume a more visible role. If it’s the latter – both from the Sox and MLB standpoint – the league’s response to social justice matters might not feel so lacking.

Even if he’s a largely passive stakeholder – as he is with the Fenway Sports Group’s Liverpool football club – James can shift a narrative or lend significant support literally with the push of a button. His stature as an athlete, advocate and mogul is unmatched.

As baseball aims to foist the title of “face of the game” onto its next mark (good luck, Fernando Tatis Jr.!), it can now point to two of the globe’s most successful and recognizable athletes – James and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes – as minority owners. In Mahomes’ case, it happens to be in the town where he slings footballs for the NFL’s Chiefs.

LeBron? His ballclub occupies what’s been enemy ground for him. That should change, though – because he just made Boston’s most historic franchise better.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LeBron James' Red Sox ownership is a great thing for MLB