baseball

Shohei Ohtani is 'Made In Japan' with American adaptations

29 Comments
By STEPHEN WADE

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
Login to comment

You can make the argument that Ohtani is the best baseball player in the history of the game just because of what he did last year and this year.

To be even considered the G.O.A.T. he has to continue the output we have seen over the past two years, over the life of his career. Hopefully 10 years or more. Then hell yes, he deserves to be one of the best, if not the best.

But, right now, he can be considered the best of last year, and this year maybe. Longevity matters!

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Last time I checked, Ohtani has an interpreter just like every other Japanese player.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

Last time I checked, Ohtani has an interpreter just like every other Japanese player.

So? Last time I checked, almost every American player in Japan has an interpreter too. Doesn’t change what they do on the field.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Wonderfully insightful article. Thank you so much for it JT. I particularly liked this:

“I didn't create Ohtani, he was incredible from the beginning,” Sasaki said in the film. “But I do think about how many pitchers I may have killed before him by my poor coaching. There are so many plants I killed by forcing them into my own small pots. So it's scary for me to speak of having raised Ohtani.”

It is not often you see this kind of honesty from such coaches. And I have seen this need for perfection in the martial art that I practice--winning is everything and coaches (and parents) forcing young people to excel and when they don't, the young person simply walks away. And it is a true shame. Sports and martial arts should be fun and I am happy to see Ohtani doing that (even on a sub-par team).

P.S. When Dusty Baker gives such praise, you know it has been earned. Ohtani is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and I wish him only the best.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Ichiro only cared about himself and his stats. Ohtani is the ultimate team player, will do anything to help his team win. In MLB all foreign players are requested to speak through their interpreter. Every clubhouse has a Spanish speaking interpreter.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Ohtani is the real living proof of the American dream! Because in America, anything is possible! Thank you Shohei!

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Waaaaayyyy too much stereotyping in this article and when it comes to Ohtani (and Ohtani vs. Ichiro) in general. He's not "more American because he smiles when he's happy, but Japanese and knows his body because he cleaned toilets!" He's just a different human being that Ichiro and everyone else for that matter. He's not a "warrior monk" or a "samurai", he's a baseball player, and a darned good one who, for a change, deserves much of the golden-boy praise heaped on him by the media when the Angels are winning (in fact, when they are winning as they are now, it is all because of "Sho-time", but when on a losing streak it's despite him and all the team's fault).

As for "the best player in the history of the sport", I couldn't say, and definitely won't based on the article of a weeb, but he's definitely among the top players both then and now, and seems to be a very decent human being, too (unlike Ichiro).

4 ( +10 / -6 )

 In MLB all foreign players are requested to speak through their interpreter. Every clubhouse has a Spanish speaking interpreter.

Yu Darvish speaks almost fluent English now. Not sure how much he still uses an interpreter, but he may have had some English experience during his childhood as his dad is Iranian who speaks English fluently. The same goes for Rui Hachimura.

In most professional sports in America, after a few years the foreign players can speak English and don't need an interpreter. NHL, NBA, MLB (Latino players)

The exception has always been Japanese baseball players. Ichiro was in the US for a good 20 years and still uses an interpreter. Thats pathetic in my opinion. He can speak some English of course, but if an NHL player was still speaking Russian or Czech after 20 years in the League it wouldn't seem right. Most pro athletes don't want an interpreter following them around everywhere.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Interesting how national pride comes out of Japan to put down other countries. Its just a game.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

 In MLB all foreign players are requested to speak through their interpreter.

Not true at all.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

So? Last time I checked, almost every American player in Japan has an interpreter too.

There is a bit of a difference.

You will never just "pick up" Japanese by being in Japan without actually putting an effort into learning the language, simply because you cannot read most things. You can watch TV with the subtitles on till the cows come home, but you still won't learn Japanese.

That's not true for a Japanese in America, or for an English speaker in countries where they use the Latin alphabet. If you live in Germany long enough, you will pick up a great deal of German just by being there, going shopping, watching TV, etc.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

There is a bit of a difference.

You will never just "pick up" Japanese by being in Japan without actually putting an effort into learning the language, simply because you cannot read most things. You can watch TV with the subtitles on till the cows come home, but you still won't learn Japanese.

That's not true for a Japanese in America, or for an English speaker in countries where they use the Latin alphabet. If you live in Germany long enough, you will pick up a great deal of German just by being there, going shopping, watching TV, etc.

This is a spurious distinction you are trying to make there. I've actually spent a lot of time in Germany yet can barely speak a word of the language.

But more to the point, most of the Japanese players in the US have in fact "picked up" a lot of English and speak it with their team-mates and manager. Ichiro did, Nomo did, Matsui did, Ohtani has done so too. They mainly just use their interpreters in situations like press conferences because they aren't fully fluent and its important that they not make mistakes because anything they say the wrong way can be pounced on by the media.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

You will never just "pick up" Japanese by being in Japan without actually putting an effort into learning the language,

What an overly generalized statement. One can "pick up" the language here, and it does not take needing to read and write Japanese to do it!

And by the way, no one just "picks up a foreign language", they all take some degree of effort, and Japanese is no different!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

What an overly generalized statement. One can "pick up" the language here, and it does not take needing to read and write Japanese to do it!

Lol, didn't happen to me....

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Baseball has never been my type of sports.

By reading the article, I will just remember he has so limited social life. Monk or soldier, what difference. Use what you learn for good and share. Sorry to say that history will surely forget that type of player without impact although he may become best stats man in the world of baseball forever.

It is only sports, true. If he brings pride to Japanese, good, although I would surely not set him as an example to follow for my kids to lose their soul in only one in such a way.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

But he has trouble recognizing Ohtani, who is built like a tight end in American football.

He obviously doesn't know anything about tight ends. Ohtani is not built like one.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

He’s not stone-faced and never cracking a smile, which is pretty much how Ichiro was.”

Now that Otani has taken over the mantle of being the baseball god for Japanese who are in the major leagues, I guess now it's alright to start throwing some well deserved shade on Ichiro.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Smith, Yubaru, and Elvis and others have a critique of Ichiro the non-perfect human being. I would love to hear their take on suspended Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer and the other confirmed woman beaters scattered around MLB. What is Ichiros crime in the grand scheme of human failings?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Yubaru--a simple review shows you got sidetracked on the topic of jocks vs working stiffs ability to master a second language. But now you want others to focus on the article.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I’m an Ohtani super fan!

But I’d love to see him less reliant on his interpreter Ippei. His reliance is so extreme that if they ask him if his food is good he needs Ippei to translate “good”, he’s too scared to even say that :(

Latin players aren’t provided with a interpreter and I believe from my personal experience that Ohtani would fair much better without one. I can understand needing a translator for press conferences , but having Ippei follow him around on the field and be the middle man between Ohtani and his teammates for small conversations is just too much. This comes off as being pampered to many teammates and one off the reasons Ichiro was never a favorite among his peers. Munenori Kawasaki on the other hand is massively loved by all his teammates from every team he played for. To my knowledge Kawasaki was the only Japanese player to do all his USA interviews in English. If u haven’t watched them they are pure gold!

If he could at least drop a few one liners as foreigners do here would go along way with fans. More Ohtani, less Ippei.

In closing Ohtani is the Goat regardless

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You can make the argument that Ohtani is the best baseball player in the history of the game just because of what he did last year and this year.

Sure you can make that, or any other argument.

Then again, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds, Sandy Koufax and so forth are likely names that hold more value when discussing the best.

Elvis is hereToday  04:46 pm JST

Yeah, no probs. Baseball is probably one of the most boring sports ever.

Agreed--just above the game where everone is kicking the same ball around a big field.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If you want to play with the big boys you got look like the big boys instead of some tiny Johnny boy!! Lol Fujisawa yes he is a Japanese boy from the country side but you failed to mention he fell in love with a City girl who is not Japanese but a college softball player. I see them all the time around the stadium after games and yes he does speak english and is very approachable!!!!

“In the last five years his body has become bigger and stronger. We see that he’s become an American — not a Japanese,” Fujisawa said.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

But I’d love to see him less reliant on his interpreter Ippei. His reliance is so extreme that if they ask him if his food is good he needs Ippei to translate “good”, he’s too scared to even say that :(

Actually, Shohei Ohtani can speak a little English and does it often with other teammates and opposing team players without the need of Ippei. He just doesn't want to cause an international incident or be misquoted. Another megastar baseball player that comes to mind who I've never heard speak any English is Vlad Guerro Jr. He only speaks Spanish, but I'm sure he's picking up English little by little. In any case, I actually like the teamwork between Shohei and Ippei. They make a good combo, and would be a little melancholy when the day comes that Ippei is not needed anymore.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@peterl, Vlad is also fluent in French.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ya can hear Ohtani speak English

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tyeylg2aCuo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTgVItidRvc

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites