Have We All Gone Completely Insane (All-Star Edition)?
Ok, full disclosure, I live in Los Angeles, and have gotten to see Shohei Ohtani hit live a couple of times, though I have not gone to see him pitch yet.
But, I am shocked, SHOCKED, that the 2018 Major League All Star Game rosters were just announced and Shohei Ohtani was NOT ON IT. And perhaps even worse, Ohtani hasn’t been listed on so-called experts All Star teams or even, unbelievably, on their lists of biggest snubs.
I can only hope, years from now, Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian and their ilk, look back on this and realize what an INCREDIBLE gaffe this is. I am a pretty mild-mannered sports fan, I rarely get angry or ultra competitive. I am always shocked to see people actually get pissed defending their hometown team, for instance. They do realize that the only reason they like that team is that they were born there, right?
And Ohtani is NOT EVEN IN THE FINAL FAN VOTE. Instead we are treated to such bona fide stars as Eddie Rosario and Jean Segura. OK, Giancarlo Stanton is on there and Ohtani’s ever-so-deserving teammate, the Ozzie Smith of our generation, Andrelton Simmons. But still.
But there is so much wrong with this I don’t even know where to start. So, in no particular order…
- Baseball does actually want to draw audience, right? You know, maybe use its showcase event to highlight its stars?!?! Shohei Ohtani is a sports icon in Japan, which in case you haven’t noticed, is one of the biggest baseball markets in the world, if not THE biggest. And you can see why he is a star. Unlike many baseball stars, Ohtani is a tall, handsome athletic guy, a huge smile, a playful disposition, and compared to his Japanese peers who have come over, only Ichiro Suzuki may have had less trouble adjusting to the supposedly superior American game. And he plays on the west coast of the Untied States, with a huge Asian-American, and Japanese-American specifically, population. The dude is a marketing dream. And he plays in Disneyland for god sakes.
- His stats. Remember in spring training, when Ohtani was getting completely demolished on both sides of his supposed duel talent, hitting .125 and pitching to a 27.00, yes 27.00, ERA? His OPS (on base plus slugging) is .873 in the regular season which would be good for 31st in the league, just ahead of Nicholas Castellanos, Jed Lowrie, and Kris Bryant (all appearing regularly on lists of major all-star snubs). His ERA of 3.10 would be good for 20th in the league while his K/9 of 11.1 would be good for 8th. 8TH. Just ahead of Jacob DeGrom and Justin freakin’ Verlander.
- He hasn’t played enough? OK, that’s a decent argument. Ohtani only has 9 starts and has 148 plate appearances over 40 games. He missed nearly a month of the season so far due to injuries. So what? Mookie Betts missed over two weeks. Or here’s my favorite. Gleyber Torres. Another leading candidate for Rookie of the Year. He wasn’t even called up until April 22, the 20th game of the season. Torres OPS is .905, slightly better, and yes he plays in the field, quite well at that, but so what… HE ISN’T DOING SOMETHING THAT BASEBALL HASN’T SEEN SINCE BABE RUTH. He plays in the major media market of New York, but that goes back to point #1, do you think if I stopped people on the street across the country and asked them if they recognized the name Shohei Ohtani vs. Gleyber Torres, that Ohtani wouldn’t win in a landslide? (And I’m not arguing Torres doesn’t deserve his All-Star selection, quite the opposite, especially considering how the Yankees absolutely took off when he got called up.)
- On that note, the Angels, FYI, were 8-14 without Ohtani, 38-31 with him.
- THIS HASN’T BEEN DONE IN 100 YEARS (both being a regular pitcher and hitter.) AND THE LAST GUY TO DO IT WAS QUITE POSSIBLY THE GREATEST PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME (Babe Ruth.)
Ugh. I’m done. Just watch a pitcher hit, see the praise poured upon Madison Bumgarner that he is an average major league hitter at best, and try to tell me that Ohtani is not only deserving of being an All-Star, but a strong argument could and should be made he should be the freaking starter and clean-up hitter at that. Scherzer v. Ohtani, both on the mound, and at the plate. Are you kidding me?