Shohei Ohtani and the Tragedy of the Angels

Shohei Ohtani is a devastating lefty slugger and righty pitcher.Mogami Kariya, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

By David Blumberg

Shohei Ohtani has performed feats never before seen in MLB history. He is not only an elite power-hitter, but also one of the league’s best pitchers. The enormity of what he has accomplished and what he may yet achieve is so great it’s almost too much to comprehend.

The team he plays for, however, finds a way to achieve the opposite each season. Ohtani debuted with the Angels in 2018 and in that time the most games they’ve won is 80. Even having both Ohtani and three-time MVP winner Mike Trout on the same roster has not been enough. The Angels have systematically failed at every step in the process of building a competent organization.

It’s no wonder then that Ohtani has had only negative things to say about the 2022 season, even as he once again dazzled the baseball world. 

Ohtani arrived in Japan in October and was quoted by the Associated Press’s Koji Ueda saying, “I have to say that August and September in particular felt longer to me than last year. We were not able to play as many good games as we would like — including 14 consecutive losses. So I have a rather negative impression of this season.”

There has been rampant speculation about the possibility of an Angels trade of Ohtani since this past summer, but nothing has come of it. According to reports it’s unlikely to happen this offseason. Perry Minasian may be under great pressure to win this season, as his job is likely on the line. Not to mention that owner Arte Moreno is looking to sell the Angels, which complicates this situation further.

This is a tragic situation for the Angels and their fans. Gifted with two of the greatest baseball players I’ve ever seen play the sport, the Angels have not played a single postseason game with Trout and Ohtani on the same roster.

Instead, the Angels bafflingly traded Raisel Iglesias and Brandon Marsh at the trade deadline in 2022. In doing so, they practically acknowledged to the rest of baseball that they were surrendering and that they just didn’t know how to fix their club.

It seems almost certain that Ohtani will be on another team by 2024, and he’ll have no shortage of suitors given he is probably the most singularly talented baseball player on the planet, if not the best athlete, period.

The saddest part of that is that I’m openly rooting for it to happen because I have no hope of seeing Ohtani play postseason baseball with the Angels. I just don’t think that’s on the horizon.

I will continue to watch Ohtani and marvel at his brilliance, but there will be just a tiny sadness in me each time. That’s the tragedy of Ohtani and the even greater tragedy of the Angels.

David Blumberg is a long-suffering Cubs fan. You can find his baseball opinions on Twitter and other musings on Medium at DGBlog. Follow him on Twitter @DGBlumberg.

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