Shohei Ohtani is hands-down the best player in baseball. On Wednesday night, Ohtani became the first player in Major League Baseball to reach 40 home runs for the season and did so while starting on the mound for the Angels. Ohtani went eight complete innings on the bump, giving up just one earned run while striking out eight and walking none in the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers.
SHOHEI OHTANI IS THE FIRST PLAYER IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TO 40 HOME RUNS!!! THE GREATEST SEASON WE HAVE EVER SEEN
— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) August 19, 2021
According to ESPN, Ohtani’s 40 home runs are the most by a pitcher in a single season and the first to hit 40 home runs and pitch in at least 15 games in a season. What Ohtani has done this season is truly difficult to put into words. At the plate, he’s hitting .269, with 87 RBI’s and a .648 slugging percentage. On the mound, he’s 8-1 with a 2.79 era in 18 starts.
“What can you possibly say that hasn’t already been said?” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He wasn’t looking for the punchout early, and later in the game his stuff kept building. I would’ve sent him out for the ninth, but he was fatigued. But it worked out well, obviously. He gave up a homer on a hanging slider, but I think in the worst way, he wanted to get that run back, and he did with a prodigious blast to right field. The superlatives, I mean just give this man credit. He’s a unique athlete, and he’s special to watch.”
He’s also had to deal with some unfortunate distractions.
On Tuesday, Detroit Tigers television analyst Jack Morris appeared to try his hand at humor, using an accent when describing how the Tigers should pitch to Ohtani. It backfired quickly.
During the sixth inning of Detroit’s Tuesday game against the Angels, Matt Shepard — the Tigers play-by-play announcer — asked Morris, “Now what do you do with Shohei Ohtani?”
“Be very, very careful,” Morris said while using an accent.
— Jonathan Deutsch (@JonathanD_TV) August 18, 2021
Word clearly made its way back to Morris, who issued an apology live on-air as Ohtani came up to bat in the ninth inning.
As is always the case, the apology was a futile attempt to stave off trouble, as Morris was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday by Bally Sports Detroit.
Ohtani was asked about Morris’ comments on Wednesday, saying he didn’t take them personally.
“I did see the footage and I heard it,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “Personally, I’m not offended and I didn’t take anything personally … He is a Hall of Famer. He has a big influence in the baseball world. It’s kind of a tough spot.”
Shohei Ohtani on the Jack Morris comments: “I did see the footage and I heard it. Personally, I’m not offended and I didn’t take anything personally. … He is a Hall of Famer. He has a big influence in the baseball world. It’s kind of a tough spot.”
— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) August 19, 2021
Maddon shared Ohtani’s feelings toward the situation, saying that he felt Morris’ apology was sincere.
“My take on the whole thing is that the Detroit Tigers reacted the way they wanted to,” Maddon said. “And I know Jack, and he apologized. That’s it, that’s where I’m at with the whole situation right now.”
Joe Maddon thoughts on Jack Morris comments:
“My take on the whole thing is the Detroit Tigers reacted the way they wanted to. And I know Jack, & he apologized. That’s it, that’s where I’m at with the whole situation right now.”
He said he felt Morris’ TV apology was sincere.
— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) August 18, 2021
In July, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith made his own questionable comments on Ohtani, saying that the Japanese star harms the game due to the fact that he requires an interpreter.
“The fact that you got a foreign player that doesn’t speak English, that needs an interpreter — believe it or not — I think contributes to harming the game to some degree, when that’s your box office appeal,” Smith said on “First Take.“ It needs to be somebody like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, those guys. And unfortunately at this moment in time, that’s not the case.”
Ohtani is from Japan, and while he is not fluent, he can speak English. He also speaks Spanish.
“When you talk about an audience gravitating to the tube, or to the ballpark, to actually watch you, I don’t think it helps that the No. 1 face is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he’s saying, in this country,” Smith said. “And that’s what I’m trying to say.”
Smith profusely apologized — as did Morris — yet no punishment was handed down from the suits at ESPN.
Regardless of what anyone has to say about Ohtani — and in whichever accent they choose — he’s the best thing to happen to baseball since crackerjacks. His accomplishments on the field this season have never been seen before, and baseball should be thanking their lucky stars that they have him.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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