April 15, 2018 – 7:37 pm
The Japanese baseball player has excelled in the first weeks of the championship. Photo: Agencies
The NHK national television broadcasts live games in the mornings Shohei Ohtani . The rest of the day, the analysis programs follow up on each one of their movements and the sports programs show their most outstanding moves.
One recent afternoon, a news program from Tokyo dedicated an entire segment to Ohtani, with a panel of guests who spoke about every detail, such as not having a driver’s license or having a personal chef.
In Japan the news does not stop on the spectacular start of Ohtani in his walk by Major Leagues. His image adorns the cover of Number Magazine, the Japanese equivalent of Sports Illustrated, and practically all the sports publications in the country.
Two wins in the same number of presentations
So far, the time the 23-year-old pitcher and DH has surpassed all expectations, with wins in his first two starts and home runs in three consecutive games. Last Sunday, he allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings during the Los Angeles Angels’ 6-1 triumph over the Oakland Athletics.
On Friday, Ohtani was seventh in the lineup as a designated hitter and got his first double in his first inning and then added a single in the eighth to help the Angels 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals.
In recent years, Japan has been somewhat cautious about sending its best players to the big leagues.
Nomo-mania arose when Hideo Nomo came to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 and Ichiro Suzuki’s debut with the Seattle Mariners in 2001 caused a stir.
Other players followed, but so far none of them seems to compare with the enthusiasm that generated the debut of Ohtani with the Angels.
Unlike previous Japanese exports, Ohtani tries something different – hitting and pitching. The Japanese refer to this as “nitoryu” – a samurai term that translates to “two swords in one”.
At the beginning, many viewed with skepticism the possibilities of Ohtani in the United States. But, so far, Ohtani has met expectations.
Surprised by its great performance
Even some of the main figures of Japanese baseball have been surprised with what Ohtani did. “He expected his success as a pitcher,” said the top slugger in Japan’s history, Sadaharu Oh. “But what I’m doing so well with the bat surprises everyone, also the Americans.”
Author Robert Whiting, who has written several books about Japanese baseball, including “The Meaning of Ichiro,” said Ohtani has the potential to outscore Nomo, Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.
“It’s hard to beat someone who wins two games and hits three homers in a week,” Whiting said. “He’s very nice and could have a long career in the United States, but possibly as a pitcher.”
Isao Harimoto, who holds the record for most hits in Japanese baseball, sees Ohtani’s three homers as proof that Japanese baseball is narrowing the margin with respect to the big leagues.
“Maybe it’s luck or that the level of US pitchers is falling,” Harimoto told Sunday Morning, a weekly news and sports program. “Three homers in a row is very prominent.”
Something is true. With its great start, increased expectations. After what Shohei Ohtani He entered as a starter in the ninth inning, the Nikkansports newspaper headed the news: “Ohtani does not get a homer for the fourth game in a row.”