Friday, November 24, 2017

EXTRA: No Ohtani frenzy for Chicago

Feel like being totally confused by the way professional baseball operates? Then get involved in following the process by which the latest Japanese leagues star, Shohei Ohtani, jumps to the United States to play baseball here.

Only coming to Chicago as a visitor
Ohtani is a big deal in part because he’s only 24. He still has many years of athletic activity left in him – barring a freak incident.

HE’S ALSO A big deal because he’s baseball ambidextrous – as in he can both pitch AND hit. He is a top pitcher for the Fighters of Nippon Ham, a ball club that plays on the island of Hokkaido – the northern end of Japan.

But he’s also supposedly a top hitter with home run power. Could he be a guy who pitches shutouts one day, then smacks home runs as a designated hitter for the other pitchers the rest of the week?

Something unlike literally the days of Babe Ruth when he both pitched and played outfield for the Boston Red Sox – before being traded to the New York Yankees where he made the shift to being a big bat exclusively.

Early speculation is that Ohtani is of the mental makeup that he has no intention of making a shift. He thinks he can do it all.

AND NOW, ACCORDING to an evolving process by which the American and National leagues in this country co-exist with the Central and Pacific leagues of Japan, Ohtani will get to decide which team in this country he will do it for.
First Japanese ballplayer on a Chicago ball club

But because of baseball rules that are meant to limit the amount of money ballclubs can spend on international talent (so as to circumvent the ballplayer draft that allocates domestic-born talent), there are only 12 of the 30 existing major league teams that can even think of bidding on him.

Neither of them are in Chicago. When Ohtani plays in this city, it’s going to be as a visiting team player.

It particularly amuses me that the Chicago White Sox can’t get into the bidding war that will occur – largely because their activity last year when they signed the big star Cuban ballplayer Luis Robert, they pushed themselves over the limit. He's supposedly a significant part of the rebuilding effort that some dream will bring the World Series to the Sout' Side by 2020.

WHICH MEANS I’M sure White Sox fans will get over this loss if someday Robert hits a game-winning home run off of Ohtani’s pitching.
First Japanese Cub's name made some titter

But it means our city is on the sidelines in this baseball spectacle. Our city’s baseball fans will wait and see which team gets him, then figure out which ballpark they have to travel to in order to boo and heckle him. Not that he’ll care, since I doubt his comprehension of English-speaking “boo birds” is minimal.

So with some of the speculation being that Ohtani is bound to wind up with the New York Yankees, it could well be that Aug. 6-8 will be the dates in 2018 to circle.

The fanatics (a.k.a., overly obsessive nutcases) amongst us can venture out to Guaranteed Rate Field to practice their newly-learned Japanese phrase – Omae ha kusai yo. Which crudely translates to “You stink!”


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