‘Mythological’: The Best Shohei Ohtani Comparison Is Bo Jackson

Mark Gubicza has an thought, and he’s simply the man to make it occur. As a pitcher within the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s, Gubicza was a teammate of Bo Jackson on the Kansas City Royals. As a tv analyst now, he calls video games for the Los Angeles Angels, the staff of Shohei Ohtani. His dream pregame present would carry the 2 gamers collectively.

“Bo Knows Sho,” Gubicza mentioned this week, by the Angels’ dugout at Yankee Stadium. “I believe we’re lastly going to get it this 12 months.”

Ohtani, the Angels’ pitching and hitting sensation, was born in the summertime of 1994, simply as Jackson’s celebrated athletic profession was ending. Jackson completed as a member of the Angels, of all groups, and performed his ultimate sport within the very ballpark the place Ohtani is forging his personal two-way legend.

Jackson was a two-way star in a special sense, the one participant ever to be an All-Star in baseball, as an outfielder for the Royals, and a Pro Bowler in soccer, as a operating again for the Los Angeles Raiders. Bo did not know pitching, like Ohtani, however he may have.

“We would joke round: ‘Do you ever assume you could possibly shut?’ And he’d say, ‘Yeah, if I needed to,’” Gubicza mentioned. “He may have carried out it simply, as onerous as he threw. It was phenomenal simply watching the stuff he did: the pace he had, the facility he had. But then I checked out Shohei and I may say the identical about him: the pace, the facility.

“I performed towards Deion Sanders and he was phenomenal, too, do not get me mistaken. But Bo, his presence, his athleticism and that wow issue is similar to Shohei.”

Ohtani wowed the Bronx crowd in his first at-bat on Tuesday, ripping a line drive that sizzled into the Yankees’ bullpen in proper at 116.7 miles an hour. It was the third hardest-hit ball within the majors this season.

“Nothing new to me,” mentioned Mike Trout, a three-time winner of the Most Valuable Player Award for the Angels, shaking his head and smiling after the sport. “That ball was hit fairly properly — and low.”

Ohtani added a stolen base on Tuesday, smashed one other ball over the fence on Wednesday — the Yankees’ Aaron Judge introduced it again for a juggling catch — and would be the beginning pitcher at dwelling on Friday towards the Royals. He has made 11 begins in a row with out permitting greater than two runs, the longest lively streak within the majors.

The finest trendy comparisons to Ohtani, Gubicza mentioned, can be Jacob deGrom and Bryce Harper — an ace right-handed pitcher and a slugging left-handed hitter who additionally runs properly. To be a fusion of each is unprecedented: Last season, Ohtani grew to become the primary participant ever with sufficient plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and sufficient innings to qualify for the ERA title. Only a 62-homer season from Judge stored Ohtani from repeating because the American League MVP

“He desires to be that individual that everybody will speak about without end — not in a ‘take a look at me and the way good I’m’ method, however simply ‘take a look at what I’m capable of accomplish,'” mentioned Gubicza, who has spoken with an outdated teammate, David Cone, about Ohtani’s mind-bending feats.

“I discuss to Coney on a regular basis, ‘We could not even stroll after we pitched. Our shoulders, elbows, ribs, again, butt, all the pieces was sore. And the subsequent day he is dealing with a man throwing 98 and hitting a house run!’ It’s unattainable to have that sort of self-discipline — for us mortals.”

Gubicza was there when Jackson grew to become mortal, dislocating his left hip throughout a Raiders playoff sport on the Los Angeles Coliseum in January 1991. Jackson had gotten Gubicza a sideline go, and it was Gubicza who discovered Jackson’s sons within the stands and introduced them to their father. .

The damage ended Jackson’s NFL profession after simply 4 seasons, however he made sufficient of an impression to usually be thought-about the best athlete ever. The writer Jeff Pearlman, who wrote the definitive Jackson biography, “The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson,” in 2022, believes that, and sees Ohtani as one thing of an inheritor.

“Shohei Ohtani sort of is Bo Jackson,” Pearlman mentioned. “It’s not precisely the identical, clearly, but it surely’s somebody doing one thing we have by no means seen earlier than at an insanely excessive degree. So, to me, it is as shut as we have seen to Bo Jackson.”

Their origin tales assist the parallel, Pearlman mentioned. Sports followers may see each phenomena off within the distance, however with solely a imprecise notion of what was actually coming.

At Auburn within the Nineteen Eighties, Jackson wasn’t precisely mysterious, however he wasn’t but ubiquitous, both: He was a operating again who additionally hit dwelling runs and would possibly — or won’t — do each within the execs. In Japan within the 2010s, Ohtani was properly chronicled as a pitching and hitting star, however no person knew if — or how properly — he may do each within the majors.

When each gamers went on to exceed expectations, they held followers and friends in awe.

“They’re each mythological creatures in a world that does not have that many,” Pearlman mentioned. “It’s superb how Ohtani truly transcends the trendy factor the place we’ve got all the pieces on video, so we really feel like we have seen all the pieces and it is not that thrilling. It’s like, I’ve seen Kevin Durant hit a jumper, I’ve seen Ja Morant dunk, however there’s one thing about Ohtani doing stuff that nobody’s ever seen earlier than that just about defies technological entry to all the pieces.”

There was no precedent for a participant succeeding at soccer and baseball to the diploma that Jackson did. And there isn’t any precedent for a participant starring as a full-time hitter and pitcher the way in which Ohtani is; even Babe Ruth by no means fairly did each on a full-time foundation in the identical season.

Ohtani’s Tuesday homer got here on the a centesimal anniversary of the opening of the unique Yankee Stadium — The House That Ruth Built — in 1923. Ohtani mentioned he was conscious of the timing, however with free company arising after this season, he wouldn’t provide extra. than pleasantries concerning the setting.

“It’s a gorgeous area, passionate followers,” Ohtani mentioned by means of an interpreter. “I all the time look ahead to taking part in right here.”

Historically, Ohtani has not hit properly at Yankee Stadium: Although he had 4 homers in 12 video games earlier than Thursday’s matinee, his profession common within the Bronx was .140. Tuesday’s stolen base was his first in New York and his first of the season; the Angels are reluctant to danger damage to a participant so beneficial, however Ohtani has the pace to run like Jackson.

“Other guys have been quick, consider me, however no person regarded and sounded as quick as Bo taking place the road — it appeared like a freight prepare,” Gubicza mentioned. “Now, with Shohei, you do not even hear him. He’s obtained the Willie Wilson-type strides.”

Wilson was one other long-ago Royals teammate, a batting champion and a stolen base chief. But for sheer quantity of elite abilities, Ohtani practically stands alone.

“I simply do not understand how you throw 101 and hit a ball 115 miles per hour off the bat,” Gubicza mentioned. “I do not understand how you try this.”

Bo is aware of — or no less than is aware of one thing prefer it. Now Gubicza simply must get him on the pregame present with Ohtani.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *