After the game, his manager, Joe Maddon, compared Ohtani to baseball’s icon of icons, the last dominant player in the major leagues to star on the mound and as an everyday player at the plate. “We all romanticize what it would have been like to watch Babe Ruth play,” Maddon said. “You hear this stuff, and it’s a larger-than-life, broader concept. Now we’re living it. So don’t underestimate what we are seeing.”
Baseball needs Ohtani right now. The game is listing. As it has for years, baseball is struggling for the kind of broad popularity it enjoyed in years gone by, only now it does so while facing the undertow of a pandemic.
America needs Ohtani right now, too.
Ohtani, who stands 6-foot-4 and is remarkably fast, starred in Japan and in 2018 was named American League Rookie of the Year with the Angels. But injuries and the coronavirus pandemic kept him from fully flourishing. He could not have timed this, the mother of all breakout seasons, any better.
The pandemic’s origins in China have brought the crazies out. As a result, Asian Americans — recent immigrants and families that have been in the United States for generations, people whose roots spring from every nation on the Asian continent — live in a constant state of siege. They are dealing with a spike in sometimes deadly hate crimes and ugly discrimination.