Shohei Ohtani with all his skill SHOULD be the center of baseball's attention
For all of the heat Major League Baseball gets for being poorly run, you can easily make an argument it has one of sports brightest futures.
Because of the coming wave of homegrown and international stars making huge splashes during the past few years. If you don't know Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuna, Jacob DeGrom, Vlad Guerrero, Juan Soto or Fernando Tatis Jr. yet, you will. They are the new faces of the game and that's why things are looking up.
Ohtani is the latest in a line of "Must See" athletes. The 27-year old Japanese wunderkind is arguably the best two way player since Babe Ruth with more skill. The P/OF can throw 97-mph fastballs and hit 117 mph home runs. In the same game!
Name another Major League player who can start at pitcher and be the teams leadoff hitter. Anybody?
Sure, Ohtani made the move from Japan a few years ago to play for the Los Angeles Angeles and has battled some injuries. Arguably, 2021 has been his "breakout". And I say that knowing he was 2018's American League Rookie of the Year.
Here's his stat line this season (84 games):
.278 batting average
33 Home Runs
12 Stolen Bases
This is his pitching line:
4-1, 3.49 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 13 starts
Then there was the 2021 All-Star Home Run Derby. Ohtani didn't WIN the derby, in fact he lost in the first round. But man, oh man, he put on one hell of a show.
All of that happened and yet all anyone is talking about is a stupid comment by resident ESPN loudmouth Stephen A. Smith who inexplicably decided on his "First Take" show to not highlight the incredible skill and talent Ohtani possesses, instead making comments about the Japan native using a translator for interviews.
Why? Why would he say that? What purpose or agenda do comments like that serve? Yeah, sure, he later (much later) apologized after a rather quick backlash---but why would he say that in the first place?
Because (if you are so inclined and click on the link from "Team America World Police", you'll understand my point):
Mind you there's no mention of Acuna using a translator or the plethora of other foreign born and raised athletes who do the same. There are several baseball players who use translators to help them with interviews.
It appears the supposedly all knowing Mr. Smith never considered that the young man may be lacking in confidence to speak publicly in a foreign language. What's the problem with that?
Don't give me this "Your in our country speak our language crap"....Imagine, a role reversal scenario. What if Smith suddenly found himself in say, Portugal or the Netherlands and was interviewed. Would he immediately be able to comfortably converse in their languages?
I'm think that's a no.
So what's the issue?
To some extent, I suppose I know where comments like this come from. It's something those of a certain age heard and said 30-40 years ago when there was zero self-awareness. It's something said quietly because of how truly offensive it is.
And yet it gets said. Over and over again.
Honestly, I don't care that Smith has apologized online and on his show. It's really not relevant to the conversation because it's a discussion we shouldn't have to be having in 2021. Yet here we are.
I can't fix the problem with racist and xenophobic beliefs and statements because lately they are appearing again at a frighteningly fast rate. I know full well the majority of people don't believe in such things but the minority who appear to seem to always get the platform or attention.
I hate this has somewhat taken away from Ohtani who by almost every account is a great, fun-loving guy who is loved by his teammates and a guy it seems every baseball player wants to meet.
I just wish he was on TV more often, that those of us on the East Coast got the chance to see him perform. Or and yeah, I'll guess I'll say it, it might be better for attention of he wasn't on the Angels, the second most popular baseball team in their own city and a team that hasn't seen much playoff action in a long, long time.
Maybe Ohtani ends up not being THE guy in baseball to help the game regain it's "wow" factor, but he certainly will be one of the guys.
We all just hope Major League Baseball doesn't screw it up with him like they have for some many others.