In the early 1800’s, Europeans began to adapt the games of cricket and rounders into a new game that would cross the Atlantic Ocean to become the game we would know as Baseball.
The first game under what are now the rules of baseball was played in 1845 with the first professional game being played in 1869. The game has been played continually since then for the past 152 years. It has been played during world wars, during pandemics, by men and women and by humans of all colors.
The sport has never witnessed anything like Shohei Ohtani.
In a world with uber-superstars like Tiger Woods, LeBron James, and Patrick Mahomes, the sports world has never witnessed anything like Shohei Ohtani. Even the great Babe Ruth, who played as a pitcher and a hitter, never found success doing both at the same time.
This week, we saw a man participate in the Home Run Derby, start the game as a pitcher, and lead off as a hitter. The same man leads all of Major League Baseball in home runs, has a .279 batting average and is the ace of the staff with a 3.49 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels.
Baseball has always been a game of failure. And Ohtani does have a lot of strikeouts and has battled some injuries. This is why it’s so important to give him this moment now because this will never happen again.
Even the great Bo Jackson, who played outfield for the Royals and running back for the Raiders, wore down over time and, ultimately, left both sports because of a hip injury. Ruth stopped pitching mainly due to money and to focus on hitting home runs, which, he felt, the fans liked more.
Ohtani is a once in a lifetime talent. Even Ken Griffey Jr., arguably one of the greatest pure hitters of our time, had his camera out Monday night to watch Ohtani hit homers.
So often we get hooked on the long-term for baseball players. We think this season is a down year, but know that Whit Merrifield or Salvador Perez will be back next season and there’s hope of a better year. I don’t look at baseball that way. Each game is unique and could mark the final game for anyone. One of the top five best players in baseball right now is the Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. He tore his ACL a few days before the All-Star Break and is out for the season. We’ve seen countless injuries over the last several years to the Royals and the franchise is still hurting from the hole left by the untimely death of Yordano Ventura after a car accident a few years back.
My point here is that each and every game that Ohtani hits or pitches in should be breaking news. Each and every game has the opportunity to extend a record of homers hit by a Japanese-born player, or add to the legend that will be told at bars decades from now. In a macro game, the micro accomplishments of Ohtani are significant and something you need to set your DVRs for. Not since cricket became baseball have we ever seen anything like it.
(Chris Kamler’s Twitter account is better than breaking news. Follow him on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed)