CM – Shohei Ohtani enters the Bronx in his own class: « How does he do it? »


BOSTON – On October 1, 1933, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 6-5 at the original Yankee Stadium, behind a full game by Babe Ruth, who supported his own efforts with a home run.

Almost 88 Years later, this event continues on Wednesday night when Shohei Ohtani takes over the hill for the Angels at the new Yankee Stadium. At this point he could be in his other role as. Having already thrown a ball or four out of the park is the team’s primary designated hitter.

Is Ohtani really the new babe? Or could we find someone better comparable to this generation talent, the most exciting and unique professional athlete on this planet, if we look back more briefly and broadly?

« The only person I can compare him to is the whole Bo Jackson phenomenon » said Mark Gubicza, a color analyst for Angels TV at Bally Sports West, in a phone interview last week. « He’s like a rock star right now. »

Ohtani, 26, is « an absolute nature freak, » said Michael King, who will start the series for the Yankees on Monday evening.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone, whose grandfather Ray made his major league debut in 1948, the same year the Sultan of Swat died, added: « Neither of us has ever seen the ability to dominate on both sides of the ball. » The reference to dominance is not exaggerated, as Ohtani is one of the top runners in the Major League at home runs (25), RBIs (59) and OPS (1.031), while in 11 starts he has a 2.58 ERA with a total of 59 Booked ½ innings. No wonder the Yankees wanted him so badly in the 2017-18 off-season when he picked the Angels.

Ruth had two seasons with the Red Sox, 1918 and 1919, where he was both a hitter and a hitter when Pitcher came up with above average numbers, the former more than the latter. When he became a Yankee in 1920, he moved mainly to an everyday right-field player; he only hit five times in a Yankees uniform.

And therein lies the main difference between The Bambino and his baseball descendant, the two men born 99 years apart: only one of them adopted this duality.

« He clearly wanted to go out into the field, » said Jane Leavy, author of Ruth’s 2018 biography « The Big Fella, » in a phone interview on her subject. “It happened at a point in time because of the design [for World War I]. With all the players [Red Sox manager Ed] Barrow lost, he needed outfielder. And then, when he needed jugs, he wanted Babe Ruth to come back and set them up. And I don’t think Babe Ruth really wanted to do that after he got a taste of the frolic in the outfield. ”

While Ohtani, who performed and beat for the Nippon Ham Fighters in his home country Japan, interested Major League Baseball teams (all) as a free agent made it clear that he would not get involved unless the employer pledged to leave his chase to his dream of excelling in both. The Angels even blessed this after Ohtani had surgery on Tommy John in October 2018.

Which brings us back to Bo, who won the Heisman Trophy running back for Auburn, his name as the first overall pick of the 1986 NFL Draft (from the Buccaneers) and left the Bucs to sign as outfielder with the royals who picked him in the fourth round of this year’s amateur baseball draft.

« Bo, you’re talking about a five-tool across the board -Gamer and he was the ultimate, « said Art Stewart, then Scouting Director of the Royals and now senior advisor to General Manager Dayton Moore, in a telephone interview. “He ran a 3.6 [from home plate to first base] from the right. [Mickey] Mantle was 3.6 from the left. I thought [Roberto] Clemente had the best arm, but Bo had a Clemente arm or probably better. He had power that I haven’t seen. You talk about anything we’re looking for in baseball and he was the best at it. ”

Jackson made his major league debut that same year in 1986, and as Stewart put it,“ The sad thing was that he learned To become a ball player in the major leagues.  » It didn’t shine immediately. In 1989, however, he started in left field and met in the All-Star game for the American League and was named Most Valuable Player of the Midsummer Classic after starting a lead-off homer against National League starter Rick Reuschel. </ By this game, arguably his signature baseball moment, Jackson had done the same in the NFL, overtaking acclaimed Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth while scoring a touchdown for the Raiders in 1987, his rookie NFL season. According to a deal Jackson made with the Raiders after they drafted him in 1987, he completed the entire MLB campaign with the Royals, joining the Raiders mid-football schedule. He played in the 1991 Pro Bowl and became the first (and only remaining) professional athlete to be named an All-Star in both sports. While Jackson's contemporary Deion Sanders was also successful in both worlds, he played a Falcons game and a Braves playoff game on the same day in 1992, but he never owned a baseball blanket like Jackson's.

Gubicza, a pitcher , who played with the Royals alongside Jackson, attended some of Jackson’s Raiders games in Los Angeles (her then home). He recalls, “I went to the locker room after the soccer games at the old [LA] Coliseum and thought, ‘This guy’s a freak. You can’t do anything to him. « 

As a broadcaster, Gubicza now experiences similar sensations when he sees Ohtani at work: » He threw six innings and hit 10 [4. June against the Mariners]. My legs, my ribs, my shoulder would be sore the next day after. The next day he managed a home run in the first pitch. How is that possible? I did my long distance run and lifted some weights and that was a fight and here it is to do a home run. I scratch my head all day and think, ‘How does he do it?’ « 

 » There is such a thing as a neuromuscular genius, « said Leavy, who talked about this concept in » The Lost Boy, « her Mickey Mantle biography, wrote. “It’s not just the physiological ability. It’s something in the way the brain is wired that allows them to go to places and do things that no one else could do. It certainly seems that Ohtani could be. ”

“ It’s a great comparison you make, him and Bo, ”Stewart said of Ohtani. « He has one advantage over Bo and that is that he can pitch. » Of course, Jackson could run nearly 1,000 yards against the NFL defenses in one half season, an accomplishment that Ohtani – who will be competing in the Home Run Derby next month – is unlikely to attempt.

Jackson’s unicorn reign turned out to be pretty in short, a football hip injury in 1991 ended his career on the grid on the spot, ending his baseball star status; he played for the White Sox and Angels for parts of 1991, 1993 and 1994 before retiring at the age of 32 after the work stoppage in 1994.

Ohtani’s stamina remains questionable. Said Leavy and compared Ohtani to Ruth: “Let’s see where he will be in 20 years. The comparisons at this point are as inevitable as they are misleading because you don’t know where it will end. ”

All right. At that moment, however, there will be someone special in the Bronx who will reach new heights. « There might be a Mickey Mantle moment if he catches you, » said Gubicza.

Yes, this guy always conjures up the greats. Whoever he is most like, it is clear that later on it will be an honor for someone to be compared to Shohei Ohtani.

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