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Ohtani: Youthful Ambition by the Numbers

April 4th, 2018 · No Comments · Angels, Baseball, Lists

Another benefit of waking up at 4 a.m. in France.

West Coast baseball is just getting started!

And I stumbled on to the start of the Los Angeles Angels home opener, versus the Cleveland Indians — also known as “Shohei Ohtani’s first game in Anaheim Stadium.”

And the Japanese Babe Ruth acquitted himself well, slugging a home run in his first at-bat and adding two more base hits in the Angels’ 13-2 rout of the Indians, a game Ohtani spent as the designated hitter, just a few days after he was the Angels’ starting pitcher in a victory.

It was about halfway through the game that the TV crew produced a copy of what is purported to be Ohtani’s high school hopes/plans for his future, from age 18 through age 42.

It makes for fascinating reading and demonstrates how ambitious is the Angels’ 23-year-old pitcher/hitter.

First, the list:

  • Age 18: Join a Major League Baseball team
  • Age 19: Master English and reach Triple-A
  • Age 20: Called up to the majors, make 1.5 billion Japanese yen (about US$13 million)
  • Age 21: Starting rotation, 16 wins
  • Age 22: Win the Cy Young Award
  • Age 23: Member of Japan’s World Baseball Classic team
  • Age 24: Throw a no-hitter and win 25 games
  • Age 25: Throw fastest pitch in the world, 175 kph (108 mph)
  • Age 26: Win the World Series and get married
  • Age 27: Member of Japan WBC team and win MVP award in MLB.
  • Age 28: First son born
  • Age 29: Throw second no-hitter
  • Age 30: Get most wins by a Japanese pitcher (in MLB career?) Hideo Nomo current leader with 123)
  • Age 31: First daughter born
  • Age 32: Win second World Series
  • Age 33: Second son is born
  • Age 34: Win third World Series
  • Age 35: Member of Japan WBC team
  • Age 36: Break the strikeout record. (MLB, presumably?)
  • Age 37: 1st son starts baseball
  • Age 38: Stats drop, start to think about retirement
  • Age 39: Decide to retire at end of next season
  • Age 40: Throw no-hitter in my very last game
  • Age 41: Return to Japan
  • Age 42: Introduce the American system to Japan

That’s quite a list, and very specific.

As good as Ohtani has been in his first week in the majors (after an awful spring training), he actually is behind schedule on his own list.

He did not get to Major League Baseball until he was 23. He is not making $13 million — he’s playing for the MLB minimum of around $500,000, in addition to a $2 million signing bonus.

He has not had a 16-victory season. He has not won a Cy Young Award. And so forth.

The significance of his list is the revelation of ambition of the highest order at a young age (15, 16?), perhaps befitting one of the greatest young players in the history of Japan.

Where did the list come from?

As the story goes, a Japanese television station put the goals on the air, and they were translated into English by a bilingual baseball fan.

I was not aware of the existence of the list until about 5 a.m. Central European Time, when the American TV guys referred to it, and a few seconds of the list went up on the screen.

It first made the rounds in the U.S. late last year, including on the website.

And this is for everyone who missed that exposure, ahead of Ohtani’s signing with the Angels … those who were not awake at 5 a.m. in France to hear Dan Shulman and David Ross talk about it.

So, age 23, a reasonable goal? Those “16 wins” he pegged to his age 22 season would make the Angels very happy.



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