Shohei Ohtani, the first world champion in 14 years, showed “true dedication” by “dusting himself off and making Nutobar his friend. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Shohei Ohtani, the first world champion in 14 years, showed “true dedication” by “dusting himself off and making Nutobar his friend.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Shohei Ohtani, who was so happy that he nearly screamed when the championship was decided (photo: AFLO)

The Japanese national baseball team, seeking its first victory in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) since 2009, won its third championship in 14 years by defeating the U.S. by one run, 3-2, in the final on April 22. Japan scored a run in the second inning, but Munetaka Murakami, who had hit a game-winning home run against Mexico on the 21st, hit a home run to tie the game, and Kazuma Okamoto hit a home run to left center to put the game out of reach at 2-1. Seven pitchers connected on defense, and Shohei Otani closed it out.

In the ninth inning with a one-run lead. The guardian god on the mound was covered in mud. He gave up a walk to McNeil, who led off the inning, but got the next batter, Betts, to ground out. He struck out his Angels colleague, Trout, and threw his glove and hat in the air, exploding with joy.

I’m happy because I’ve been dreaming about this,” he said. (I was nervous at the end because it was a close game, but I’m glad I was able to hold them off. (About being Trout’s colleague from the Angels) I’m glad that I was able to get here in the best possible way and control it in the best possible way.”

The heat continued even after the Japan team’s last-minute come-from-behind victory in the ninth inning against Mexico in the semifinal game on the previous day, the 21st, where a loss would have meant the end of the tournament. Before the game, Otani, who was asked to do his customary voice-over in the locker room, spoke passionately about the final.

The U.S. team (our opponent) has players that everyone has heard of, but if you admire them, you will never be able to surpass them. We came here today to surpass them and become the top. For today, let’s put aside our admiration for them and just think about winning.

Hideki Kuriyama, a former mentor of Ohtani’s from his days with Nippon Ham, took over the Samurai Japan team two years ago. It was two years ago that Hideki Kuriyama, his former Nippon-Ham coach, took over as Samurai Japan’s new manager. Ohtani pitched to nine wins, hit 46 home runs, drove in 100 runs, and stole 26 bases. Even back then, the two had already seen the “joy of the moment of victory” between them. A source in the baseball world revealed, “Otani was officially invited to the WBC.

Two years ago, while Otani was back in Japan after the major league season, Kuriyama had dinner with Otani at a fancy French restaurant in Tokyo. They must have talked about the WBC there.”

I want to be No. 1 in the world as a member of the Japanese national team. And how can he respond to Kuriyama’s concern that “kids are not playing baseball anymore”? It was not only for Ohtani to produce results as an individual, but also to “devote himself” to the team. In this final, Otani, who was cheered even more loudly by his home fans in the U.S., was on standby to pitch and hit for the team’s victory. He ran to the bullpen between innings, prepared to work on his shoulder, and then went back to the bench to prepare as a hitter. After the fourth batter of the seventh inning, he worked on his shoulder in the bullpen at a rapid pace to prepare for the mound in the ninth inning.

This was not the only ground game of the day. Otani was also a “bridge” for Nutobar, who qualified for the Japanese national team because his mother is Japanese and was the unquestioned No. 1 player in the tournament, to help him integrate into the team. A sports newspaper reporter who has been covering the WBC revealed the following.

Of course, it is because he is playing in the U.S., but it also seems that Otani was concerned that Nutebuhr would not be left out of the team. Nuutobar, who cannot speak Japanese, acts with the same cheerful, upbeat attitude he had when he was with the Cardinals, and if the other Japanese players do not follow his groove, Nuutobar will “float. Ohtani was consciously overacting so that the Japanese players would be naturally drawn to Nutobar’s enthusiasm. When Nutobar first joined the national team, Otani was always by his side when he entered the stadium,” he said.

In the ninth inning against Mexico, the batting lineup, which had led off the ninth inning with a double and connected with the following batters, connected with seven pitchers to connect with Otani for the sayonara win. Ohtani concluded his victory interview with the following words.

To be honest, I’m sad to see the WBC come to an end. I think everyone is the same, but I will go back to my respective teams and prepare for the season to start.

Otani, who had longed to become the world’s No. 1 baseball player, turned his attention to the battle for the top spot in Major League Baseball, rather than basking in the afterglow of the Samurai Japan team.

From left to right, Nutobar, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Otani pose for a commemorative photo at the Tokyo Dome (photo taken from Shohei Otani’s Instagram @shoheiohtani)

Photo Gallery2 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles