An MLB database called Savant tracks just about every relevant MLB statistic, from a catcher’s “pop time” to a batter’s “barrel zone.” It also has information on players’ travel schedules — according to the platform, West Coast ballclubs draw the short straw in that department, regularly racking up 40,000-50,000 travel miles a year.
The Oakland Athletics have it the worst (they retain the top spot even when teams like the New York Yankees jettison to London, or the San Francisco Giants to Mexico City or Tokyo.) But the Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t far behind them. Little wonder that their star outfielder Mookie Betts, who joined the team in 2020, has developed an unfailing road trip routine.
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Mookie’s Hotel Kitchen
During a recent installment of Betts’ Bleacher Report podcast (On Base with Mookie Betts) the 30-year-old talked about his trusty “travel kitchen,” a full suitcase featuring a camp stove, utensils, cooking oil and various condiments and compotes. (Like most professional athletes, Betts is partial to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after the game.)
“I order groceries and then I cook my food,” Betts said. “I try to eat really good man, because I got 10 more years in this thing. I gotta make sure I can still move around and do this.”
While it’s safe to assume that the Dodgers franchise — with a payroll north of $210 million this year — is putting up its players in hotels with avocado toast on the menu, it makes sense that Betts has decided to take matters into his own hands. He alone controls the ingredients, the manner in which the food is prepared and the hours at which he wants to eat.
Athletes Are Routine Machines
In the WHOOP era, athletes are monitoring their diet and sleep patterns more than ever. In a comment on Betts’ outtake, NBA star Kevin Durant wrote: “Eating on the road is a big concern, I understand mook.” And it’s little wonder that an overwhelming majority of MLB players support this year’s rule changes, which have led to shorter games…and earlier bedtimes.
Plus, let’s remember: baseball players tend to be among the most bizarre of the pro athletes. In an essay called “Baseball Magic,” an anthropologist called Dr. George Gmelch once explored the everyday liturgies of ballplayers, explicitly comparing them to the Trobriand people, who live on the coral atolls of the coast of New Guinea. When those fishermen must brave the open sea — as opposed to fishing the inner lagoon — they are more likely to rely on personal tics and totems to “see them through” the activity.
Betts’s travel kitchen, then, is about as functional as a totem gets. In four years with Los Angeles, he has a World Series ring and two top-five MVP finishes to his name. Safe to say he’ll remember those accolades in his 40s and beyond, instead of some missed room service burgers in Milwaukee.