As we hunker down and hope not to get sick, one of the things I miss the most about life as usual is sports. Sports, perhaps because they are not important in and of themselves, generally provide a welcome diversion from troubled times. Not now.

New England sports fans, of course, have just suffered, along with the suspension of play due to the coronavirus, the loss of two of the best athletes in sports history – Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. In both cases, the franchises will suffer for these losses.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

The immediate impact of tossing out Mookie and the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) will be a few losses during the 2020-21 season, if there is one. But I suspect that these acts of faithlessness will have ramifications for years to come. Letting Tom Brady go is worse than trading away Babe Ruth, so the Curse of the GOAT could be worse than the Curse of the Bambino, which kept the Red Sox from winning a World Series for 86 years.

Mookie Betts is now a Los Angeles Dodger and Tom Brady will become the QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both the Dodgers and the Bucs will be measurably better for scoring Boston’s best. The Sox and the Pats, not so much.

You don’t make your team better by trading away your best players just so you won’t have to pay them what they’re worth when they become free agents. The fact that the bloodless millionaires who own the Red Sox sent Betts and pitcher David Price to the Dodgers in exchange for an injured outfielder and a couple of minor league prospects may well result in the Curse of the Mook. It could be 100 years until the Sox win another World Series.

The Sox paid Mookie $20 million last year. The Dodgers will pay him $27 million for one year. After that Betts becomes a free agent and could land a multi-year contract worth north of $400 million … if he stays healthy and performs.

Tom Brady, the only NFL player ever to leave a team after 20 years, got a two-year, $50 million contract from the Bucs. Brady, 42, was making $23 million a year with New England. So the Pats decided to risk the wrath of the fans and a losing season for a mere $2 million.

It seems that Pats owner Robert Kraft wanted Brady back, but apparently surly coach Bill Belichick did not, at least not enough to pay him what he’s worth. Brady left money on the table every year in order to help the Pats afford receivers and linemen to help them win six Super Bowls. And know-it-all Belichick may actually have cost the Pats another one by benching Malcolm Butler, the Pats’ best cornerback.

I kind of hope the Patriots have their first losing season in 20 years just to make it clear that it was Brady not Belichick who made them winners. Big, bad Bill is a self-important autocrat who clearly does not understand, as Brady does, that they are only afforded the privilege of playing games for huge sums of money because of the fans and the media. The only value professional sports have is as entertainment. Without the audience to watch and the media to broadcast and report, they don’t exist. Right now they are nothing.

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