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Shohei Ohtani’s already done the unthinkable — he’s made baseball exciting again. Now, the Angels’ do-it-all superstar is turning his attention to America’s indifference to its own past-time and attempting to make the game great again within the United States.
“Baseball was born here, and I personally want baseball to be the most popular sport in the United States,” Ohtani said in a recent interview with GQ.
Given the current state of the game, that may seem unlikely or even impossible. But accomplishing the seemingly impossible is nothing new for Ohtani. In the 2021 season, he became the first player in MLB history to be named a starting pitcher and leadoff batter in an All-Star Game.
“Baseball was born here, and I personally want baseball to be the most popular sport in the United States.”
Shohei Ohtani opens up for the first-ever global @GQSports issue. Read the story and see all the photographs by @elirusellinnetz: https://t.co/KuVMrNLZ2E pic.twitter.com/11OUXYPkpw
— GQ Sports (@GQSports) January 12, 2022
Should the game become more popular, “ShoTime” will be one of the biggest reasons why. During the 2021 season, he hit 46 home runs, scored 100 runs and tallied 103 RBI. Oh, and for good measure — he also started 23 games as a pitcher, registering a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts. Those numbers were good enough to earn Ohtani AL MVP honors.
“If I can contribute in any way to help that, I’m more than open to it,” Ohtani told GQ. “But if you look at the whole baseball population in the world, it’s a lot less than, like, soccer and basketball because only select countries are really big on baseball. But in those countries where it’s huge, it’s unbelievably huge.”
Ohtani’s place within MLB is also “unbelievably huge.” He has shifted from unknown Japanese prospect to Major League Baseball’s main attraction. That’s something the 27-year old appears to embrace.
“Hearing ‘the face of baseball,’ that’s very welcoming to me,” Ohtani said via GQ. “It gives me more motivation to keep it up and have more great years.”
Ohtani’s right. Baseball was once “unbelievably huge” in America. Hopefully, it’ll be YUUUUGE here once again.
Follow along on Twitter: @OhioAF