By Ken Reed
As we approach the one-third mark of the 2023 MLB season, it has become clear to me that Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani is underappreciated.
In the 150 years or so of Major League Baseball, we have never seen anything like what Shohei Ohtani continues to do in the dual role of pitcher and hitter. And I stress the word “never.”
The obvious comparison is Babe Ruth. But Ruth was first a pitcher and then became a hitter. There was only a short time where Ruth both pitched and hit during the same season. Once his immense power as a hitter was discovered, the Yankees made Ruth an everyday player and took him off the mound.
Perhaps the only comparison for Ohtani in terms of amazing athletic feats is Bo Jackson, who was both an elite outfielder for the Kansas City Royals and an elite running back for the NFL’s Raiders. It’s not quite an apples to apples comparison, however. That would have required Jackson to be both an All-Pro running back on offense and an All-Pro middle linebacker on defense.
“I just don’t know how you throw 101 and hit a ball 115 miles per hour off the bat,” said Mark Gubicza, former Royals pitcher and current Angel’s broadcaster. “I don’t know how you do that.”
The question is why isn’t Ohtani appreciated nationally more than he is. There are a few possible reasons: 1) Baseball is more of a regional sport than the NFL and NBA, as such, he doesn’t get as much national media coverage as football and basketball stars; 2) The Angels haven’t made the playoffs since Ohtani joined the team, so he hasn’t had enough time on the national stage; 3) Ohtani is from Japan and therefore, might not be idolized as much as an American-born athlete with Ohtani’s skills might be; and 4) In our high-tech, media-drenched society, everything pro athletes do is captured on video via traditional media and/or social media and so we’ve become desensitized to amazing athletic feats.
But what Ohtani is doing is truly special.
“It’s amazing how Ohtani actually transcends the modern thing where we have everything on video, so we feel like we’ve seen everything and it’s not that exciting,” says author Jeff Pearlman.
“It’s like, I’ve seen Kevin Durant hit a jumper, I’ve seen Ja Morant dunk, but there’s something about Ohtani doing stuff that no one’s ever seen before that almost defies technological access to everything.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
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Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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