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The Greatest Sho on Earth: Ohtani Takes the Hill

Last week, Shohei Ohtani, baseball’s most exciting player, made an appearance at the Coliseum in Oakland, California. Ohtani took a 2-hitter into the seventh, getting pulled after some control issues and a Justin Upton error that scored Ohtani’s second earned run. While Sean Manaea outdueled Ohtani that night, Ohtani was in focus for WPW the entire game.

Pre-game, Shohei Ohtani toed the bullpen rubber very deliberately, taking time with every pitch to gather himself mentally and physically. It was apparent that he was searching for that “feel” early in his warm-up.

Ohtani’s Asics cleats are tremendously fresh.

They’re also on a noticeably flatter plate, looking a lot like a basketball or tennis shoe with spikes.

His glove is also Asics brand, a much more popular baseball brand in Japan than the US.

Black and maroon leather with black welting and binding with his number 17 on the wrist is an excellent combo for Ohtani’s game glove.

Ohtani’s web is a remix on a one-piece decorated web worn by many Japanese-born pitchers.

It has a diagonal cut through the middle of the maroon web with a slice of exposed suede. The cut is finished with a unique cross-stitch lacing that makes this glove even more unique. The logo stamp gives off Sonic the Hedgehog vibes.

Shohei throws arguably the heaviest split-finger fastball in the game right now, sitting in the low 90s and holding hitters to one of the lowest batting averages on any single pitch in baseball:

It isn’t easy throwing a bowling ball 60 feet though, and Sho threw a couple 45 footers before he started to find his release point on the splitter.

While I have no idea his throwing regiment, you could imagine its difficult to have pinpoint control on all your pitches while also sitting top 3 in the American League in bombs.

Hawaiian-born Kurt Suzuki and his 15 years of MLB service would guide Ohtani throughout the game. The way Suzuki rests his mitt on the ground as the pitcher releases the ball, then moves it up to receive the pitch is a beautiful way to give the umpire a great view of the pitch and get more strikes for his pitcher.

When Shohei took the mound, he seemed to gesture his respect towards the A’s dugout.

Throughout the game he would bow repeatedly to the home plate umpire as a way to request a fresh baseball.

He came out blowing gas, even if a little wild, and an errant fastball nearly took A’s leadoff hitter Mark Canha’s head off.

Canha, who gets hit a lot and never seems to be bothered by it, immediately spun around and screamed at Ohtani, “LETS F**KING GO!” which set off Kurt Suzuki in defense of his pitcher, and ended up half-heartedly clearing the benches.

As the Athletics team approached Ohtani, he waved them off, showing no interest in the confrontation. At 6’4″ 210 and cut from granite, the A’s didn’t seem to be jumping at the chance to fight Ohtani, either. Canha quickly reeled himself back in and things cooled down.

Ohtani would get the last word in that inning with a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play. He turned back to his catcher Suzuki and clapped loudly in appreciation for the inning-ender.

He gave a little smile to his bench, pleased with the result of the dust-up.

Ohtani wore long sleeves and frequently blew on his hands to warm them. He did not hit, and the Angels offense sorely missed him.

Pitching from the stretch the entire game, Sho generated tremendous power without a leg kick much of the time.

I took about 3,000 photos of him pitching, and there wasn’t a single pitch where he didn’t close his eyes at the release point.

Throwing a splitter as hard as Sho looks downright painful. (And it is.)

He struck out five and walked four, the fourth time in seven starts he walked at least four, but managed to pitch into the seventh.

Without Ohtani in the batting order, the Angels managed just one measly run.

If Ohtani comes to your town, you ought to get out to the park to see him. What a SHO!

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