I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical of this Ohtani fellow. He had been deemed the next Babe Ruth because he can hit AND pitch. I figured that while this is pretty cool, the chances of him being the “Next Babe Ruth” were slim to none. On top of that, who was the last Japanese position player to actually be really really good? The answer is Ichiro. That’s really it. You can throw Hideki Matsui in there too, but, and I’m not saying this to be a dick, outside of Yankees and Red Sox fans, how many people remember Matsui? I could be completely off here. I mean I know Matsui because I live in New York, am a Red Sox fan, and was haunted by that dick hitting homers off the Red Sox in every goddamn big moment he was ever part of. But I digress. My point is that Ichiro came to Seattle, a small market team and took the league by storm. He became a household name. Matsui, while a very good player in his own right, I don’t think ever made it quite to that level outside of the Northeast.
After that you had Kaz Matsui who homered in his first game with the Mets so everyone thought he was going to be the next big thing, but his career was tragically derailed by anal fissures. Kosuke Fukadome was supposed to be an absolute stud, but ended his five year career with a very average .754 OPS. So basically after Ichiro and kind of Hideki Matsui, there has not been that Japanese position player to come over and become a bonafide superstar.
With all the hype around Ohtani, he might be that guy. Everyone is so entranced at the idea that he can and wants to hit and pitch in the Majors. He could be a groundbreaking player in the league. Of course, with all that hype, all that money that he should make, the New York Yankees were likely the blind favorites as we entered the Ohtani Sweepstakes. Everything was lined up; they have a shit ton of international pool money saved up. They have a rich history of Japanese players coming to the Bronx with Matsui, and Tanaka, and of course the late Hideki Irabu. Even the storyline of Ohtani being the “next Babe Ruth” played right into it all.
But nope! Ohtani said thanks, but no thanks. He didn’t even want to meet with the Yankees and hear their spectacular presentation they prepared for him. Most Yankees fans I’ve talked to are acting like they just found out their girlfriend cheated on them and it’s hilarious. I’ve never seen a group of people so butthurt over a guy with literally no ties to their franchise deciding he doesn’t want to play there. I mean the guy doesn’t even speak English for fuck’s sake. Like next year, if Bryce Harper takes a discount to play somewhere other than New York after everything he’s said about playing in pinstripes, I’ll still think it’s funny, but I could understand the anger.
It’s like Ohtani is the hot girl that says hi to the nerd once in the hall and the nerd thinks the girl likes him so he asks her out and she says “who are you again?” Now Yankees fans are saying this guy is a coward and pussy and doesn’t want to be in the limelight because he wants to play for a small market team, preferably out west. I actually never saw that Ohtani did not want to play in a “high pressure” or “large market*.” I heard Brian Cashman say that if he were a small market team on the west coast, he’d feel confident. But never did I see Ohtani say that. If you find the quote from Ohtani himself, please send it to me and I will eat my words. But now it’s just a bunch of bitter New Yorkers calling this 23 year old Japanese guy a pussy because he doesn’t want to play in New York. As a Yankee h8er, it’s just so hilarious.
“But Ketch, Ohtani also said the Red Sox are out too.” Yes he did. But if I’m being completely honest, I never thought the Sox were truly in the running for him. They had substantially less international money than a number of teams and I thought if they were going to make a huge move, it would be for Stanton. Maybe other Sox fans feel different, but I think the general consensus around Red Sox Nation was that if Ohtani would be playing at Fenway next season, it would be for the visiting team.
My guess for where he ends up though is San Francisco. I could see a world where SF pulls some shit and signs Ohtani and trades for Stanton. And as far him playing both ways, I really hope it’s either he’s a position player that they bring in to pitch in relief, or that he starts, gets the next day or two off, and then plays like second base for a couple days. I hope it’s not just that he pitches and then pinch hits or DH’s on off days.
*He narrowed it down to 7 teams. The Giants, Rangers, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, Padres, and Mariners. Yeah the guy lists San Francisco, Los Angeles, Texas**, and Chicago as five of his seven finalists – sure looks like he doesn’t want to play for a big market.
**Yes the Texas Rangers are a top 10 market in MLB