Stop respecting them. If you admire them, you cannot surpass them. We came here to jump over them, to climb to the top. Let’s put down our admiration for them for a day and just think about winning.”
This is what Shohei Otani (Japan) said to his Japanese teammates ahead of the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) final against the United States held in Miami, USA on the 22nd (Korean time). The total annual salary of the U.S. national team playing in the “dream stage” major league is $377,902,500 (493 billion won). He ordered that he not be intimidated in advance and face up to the United States, a baseball powerhouse. The Japanese players showed concentration until the end, winning 3-2 and winning all 7 matches, standing at the top of the world for the first time in 14 years following 2006 and 2009.
After two outs in the top of the 9th inning, Ohtani threatened Mike Trout, who was also a teammate of the Los Angeles Angels team, with a fastball of around 100 miles per hour (161 km), then swung with a breakaway ball (140 km per hour) at full count. The strikeout was the best scene in the tournament. Trout conceded defeat after the game, saying, “He had a terrible ball and threw me a good ball at the end.”
Ohtani played a pivotal role for the Japanese national team in pitching throughout the tournament. He came out as the lead batter in the bottom of the 9th inning when the match against Mexico was trailing 4-5 in the quarterfinals, hit a double, and after going on base, he showed strong emotions and even drew out the fighting spirit of his teammates. In this tournament, Ohtani pitched in 3 games as a ‘pitcher’ and recorded 2 wins and 1 save, an ERA of 1.86 (5 hits, 11 strikeouts, 2 runs in 9⅔ innings), and as a ‘batter’, a batting average of 0.435 (10 hits in 23 at-bats) in 7 games. , 1 home run, 8 RBIs, 9 runs scored. During the finals, he went back and forth between the dugout and the bullpen after the 6th inning to prepare the pitcher and batter at the same time. Of course, the MVP of the tournament belonged to Ohtani. He was also selected as an All-Star in both pitches.
In an interview with local media, Ohtani said, “(When he took the mound in the ninth inning), he was nervous, but fortunately he finished the game without conceding. He said, “I wanted to throw a ball without regret whether I got him out or hit.” He added, “It was fun working with the Japanese national team players. He said, “I hope that baseball will be more loved in Asia, such as Korea, Taiwan, and China, and in other countries around the world.” During the WBC, Ohtani’s popularity skyrocketed, with his personal Instagram following exceeding 4 million.
Former major leaguer and Fox Sports analyst John Smoltz, while covering the Japan-Mexico match, said, “Ohtani has to study the opponent’s pitcher while batting practice, while also pitching in the bullpen to prepare for a start every six days. . Other big leaguers may not know that being a pitcher and a hitter at the same time is really hard.” It is a tribute to Ohtani, who is immersed in baseball practice day and night to digest both positions.
U.S. national team coach Mark DeRosa said, “What Ohtani is doing now (both pitching) is what about 90% of big league players did in little league or amateur games. But he did it on the biggest stage,” he said. “Ohtani is a unicorn in sports. I think other players will try to double as a pitcher, but they will not reach the same level as Ohtani.” Lars Nuthba, who played with the Japanese national team, said of Ohtani, “He’s not only the best baseball player in the world, but he could be the best player in the world. He may be the greatest athlete of all time.”
He picks up garbage from the baseball field in his spare time, and there is no end to good stories about him. Ohtani also expressed his respect through Instagram for the Czech national team, which showed great baseball passion in this tournament. He also wore a Czech national team cap when entering Miami, USA. <Fox Sports> said, “Those who have known Ohtani for a long time or only met once are equally impressed by his character. He’s a superstar, but he’s kind to everyone.”
Ohtani once said this about why he doubles as a pitcher. “To hit and toss. It’s the only baseball I know. Doing one thing and not doing the other is unnatural to me. It may be a skill to do something that others don’t (two-hitters), but it just comes naturally to me.”
Ohtani is the busiest baseball player on the planet, hitting, running, throwing and even picking up garbage. In the WBC,토토사이트 which he participated in for the first time in his life, he wrote another legend by creating a more cartoon-like ending than a cartoon. Shohei’s ‘Showtime’ will continue.