Pitch­ing for Otani

National Post (Latest Edition) - - ISSUES & IDEAS -

Re: Jays to make pitch for Otani, Nov. 14

Af­ter a dis­as­trous baseball sea­son in 2017, a year in which the Blue Jays’ brain­trust con­tin­ued to boost fan hopes right up to and be­yond the trade dead­line, they’re at it again by tempt­ing fans with the pur­suit of Ja­panese phe­nom Sho­hei Otani.

GM Russ Atkins “be­lieves that there is a place in baseball for a stand­out two- way player.” Ev­i­dently Otani’s ad­di­tion “would ad­dress two of the team’s big­gest off-sea­son needs, an out­fielder and a start­ing pitcher.”

But be­fore get­ting too far ahead of our­selves, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that in the 141- year his­tory of pro­fes­sional baseball only one player has had what could be called an even marginally suc­cess­ful ca­reer on both sides of the ball. And though one of the great­est play­ers in baseball his­tory, and one of the finest pitch­ers of his day, Babe Ruth did not do these two thing at the same time.

For the Red Sox he won 89 games be­fore 1920; for the rest of his ca­reer as a Yan­kee he won five.

For the Red Sox he hit 49 home runs; af­ter 1920 for the Yan­kees he hit 665.

And this was be­fore coastto-coast travel and racial de­seg­re­ga­tion, which made the game a much easier propo­si­tion.

So Otani’s an un­likely saviour. That would be too easy, for build­ing a baseball team is a com­pli­cated process. Yet, it makes you won­der if a rise to the top will ever hap­pen in Toronto with a man­age­ment team that’s so un­aware of baseball his­tory and so delu­sional about the tal­ent in the mar­ket­place.

John P. Fo­den, Toronto


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