This article is part of our Mound Musings series.
I wonder if baseball fans realize we have entered a brave new world? The sport is almost 150 years old, and over the years there have been titles assigned to describe the unique aspects of the game in that time period. There was a "Dead Ball Era" when homeruns became exceedingly rare, and a "Juiced Ball Era" when your grandmother could pop 25 long ones in a season. However, while there have always been players associated with the different ages of baseball, I don't think there has ever been a time when a single player defined the sport … until now.
When Shohei Ohtani arrived from Japan in the spring of 2018, eyebrows raised, and curiosities were piqued. There was talk that the 23-year-old had the tools to both pitch and hit at the major league level. What? Babe Ruth did that, albeit briefly, about 100 years ago, but it just didn't seem practical, and he dropped pitching to focus on hitting. In hindsight, it seems like it was probably a good idea.
The buzz surrounding Ohtani actually began when he was playing in the Japanese equivalent of little league. He was clearly special. By the time he reached high school, the hype was deafening. In 2012, at age 18, Ohtani announced that he would go directly to the United States in hopes of playing in the major leagues. There were quite a few teams interested, but there was a hang up. The MLB teams were just not prepared to