In Short Order: The sky is the limit for teammates Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout
Welcome to In Short Order, a weekly look at all the baseball that I like and can't stop obsessing over. We'll mostly live at the edges of the game; at the intersection of the weird, the fun and the esoteric. Oh yeah, and hair.
Jaws dropped and internet eyeballs popped open on Friday afternoon when it was reported that Shohei Ohtani signed with the Angels. The Angels -- home to two-time MVP and likely future Hall of Famer Mike Trout -- have signed perhaps the greatest two-way player since Babe Ruth.
The next few months are going to see hundreds of articles analyzing the deal: How much value are the Angels going to net from Ohtani? Can Ohtani elevate the rotation to a World Series-winning level? Do Ohtani's scouting reports indicate an ability to hit for average and power in the Majors?
Forget all of that right now. Live in the moment and embrace the dream that is now reality: The two best players in the sport are playing together for 162 glorious summer days.
Imagine Ohtani hurling a fastball on the mound, except, oh no, he's left too much of a 100-mph zinger over the plate. Fortunately, Trout's in center field and can race back to rob the homer and save the day.
Think of the two of them batting in the middle of the order and smashing back-to-back dingers.
Right now, everything is possible, so let it be possible. Ohtani has a triple-digit fastball and fall-off-the-side-of-the-world breaking stuff. He could win 20 games and strike out 300 batters without straining the imagination. He's struck out over a batter per inning in the NPB -- so why can't he do it here?
He has the power and eye to hit 20-something home runs and a .330 average -- after all, he's done it in Japan -- so give him the chance to do it here. Look out, roof at Minute Maid Park.
Give in to the optimism. Baseball is a game of failure and there will be plenty of it when Spring Training begins: Ohtani has to adapt to a new league, a new country and a new team. But right now, let's just live in a dream world where everything is possible. Because, guess what? When it comes to Ohtani, it is.
Now on to the weird stuff.
Korea's Sok-min Park is the KBO's Yasiel Puig of dancing around the box
Puig's star became even brighter during the postseason, but he isn't the only one whose in-the-box stylings are must-watch TV. There is also the KBO's Sok-min Park.
He'll dab, spin and look like he's completely lost track of the ball. Scroll to 1:14 for my favorite triple axel:
Wilin Rosario's big ol' dingers
After crushing 37 home runs (and stealing a surprising 10 bases) for the Hanwha Eagles in the KBO, there was reportedly some interest from Major League teams in bringing back the former Rockies prospect. Would he be 2018's Eric Thames? Unfortunately for MLB fans, Rosario instead signed with NPB's Hanshin Tigers. But, even if we won't see his swing stateside, we can still appreciate his four-homer game with the Eagles:
You should know about the time when ...
Bill Mazeroski made a cameo in "The Odd Couple."
I'm not sure what's more surprising: That the light-hitting, slick-fielding Mazeroski hit the World Series-winning homer in the 1960 World Series, or that he hit into a bases-loaded, game-ending triple play in "The Odd Couple." Of course, Maz only got the role in the film after Roberto Clemente turned down the appearance because No. 21 didn't want to be seen getting tripled-up.
It's a play that Walter Matthau's character never got to see:
Though Maz was an unexpected choice, it turns out he was a film pro: It only took two takes until he laced a suitable liner to the third baseman.
What to watch this weekend: Sullivan's Sluggers by Mark Andrew Smith and James Stokoe
A slight change this week, as instead of a ballgame to watch, I'm suggesting a graphic novel to read. Enter Smith and Stokoe's lucid dream of a horror story that follows a Minor League team -- the titular Sluggers -- that travel to a new town for a ballgame. Only problem: After sundown, the town is filled with demonic, flesh-eating monsters.
If you want grindhouse action and monster-tinged fun, where a baseball team uses every tool at their disposal to survive the night, this is the graphic novel for you.