The Morning Column: August 19, 2021
The Angels don't play in L.A. and Dodgers fans have long teased them about this geographical error but L.A. baseball fans are doing themselves a disservice if they don't see Shohei Ohtani in Anaheim.
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1. ⚾️ Los Angeles needs to embrace Ohtanimania
Shohei Ohtani plays for the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels, however, don’t actually play in Los Angeles County. They have called Orange County home since 1966 and changed their name from the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2005; finally dropping the “of Anaheim” in 2015. They play their home games at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, which was originally known as Anaheim Stadium.
They are Anaheim’s team. That’s not a knock on the Angels or Anaheim, it’s just a geographical fact.
Whenever I’m asked how big Ohtani is in Los Angeles, where he ranks amongst Los Angeles’ sports stars and how his historical season is being received in L.A., I struggle with the answer. Most Los Angeles sports fans don’t consider the Angels a Los Angeles team. Sports fans in Los Angeles are aware of what Ohtani is doing but he might as well be doing it in San Diego or San Francisco as far as most are concerned.
I get it. If you’re a Dodgers fan, you’re not supposed to care about the Angels outside of needling them by wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles shirt.
But these aren’t normal times and Ohtani is the furthest thing from a normal player.
Ohtani is doing things on the field that have never done before and may never be done again.
On Wednesday, Ohtani made his 11th pitching start this season with at least a share of the Major League home run lead. He is the only player to do that since Babe Ruth in 1919. He pitched eight innings, recording eight strikeouts and just six hits in a 3-1 win against the Detroit Tigers, and hit his 40th home run, which is most for a pitcher since Ruth hit 34 in 1933.
Ohtani joined Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Troy Glaus as the only Angels players in team history to hit 40 home runs in a season but did it faster than anyone else. Ohtani is 8-1 as a starting pitcher with a 2.79 ERA and currently leads the Majors in home runs, extra-base hits and slugging and is second in total bases and OPS.
While Ohtani has often been compared to Ruth, he’s better than “The Bambino” ever was as a dual threat. Ohtani is the only player in MLB history to ever start at least 15 games as a pitcher and hit 40 home runs and there are still 40 games left in the season.
What we’re watching this season from Ohtani isn’t just best season in baseball history, it will go down as arguably the greatest season in sports history.
The problem is the Angels are a .500 team (61-61), in fourth place in the AL West and are in the bottom half of the league in attendance. With Trout sidelined, the Angels are a one man show but it’s the greatest show in town. Even if you’re not an Angels fan, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t go see Ohtani before his historic season ends if you have the chance.
Depending on where you live, it’s cheaper and easier to go to an Angels game than a Dodgers game. For the upcoming home series against the New York Yankees, the “get in” price is anywhere between $14-20 and the train from Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles to Angel Stadium is $16 and takes just 39 minutes.
I wouldn’t normally encourage Dodgers fans to travel to Anaheim from Los Angeles to watch the Angels but nothing about Ohtani and his magical season is normal and you’ll regret if you don’t take the chance to see him at least once in person.
2. 🏆 WWE partners with MLB on championship title belts
WWE and Major League Baseball announced a multi-year partnership to create MLB-inspired WWE Championship title belts featuring the logos of all 30 teams.
“The new line of merchandise launches in 2022, marking the first time these items have been available for fans. This is the first official licensing agreement for WWE Championship title belts between WWE and one of the major U.S. sports leagues,” the statement announces. “As part of the agreement, WWE and MLB will collaborate to design and manufacture team-branded title belts as well as belts that celebrate some of the league’s Jewel Events such as the World Series, All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. Additionally, the two sides will create custom side plates and unique Lucha Libre masks.”
3. ⚾️ Russell Westbrook to throw out first pitch
Russell Westbrook will throw out the first pitch before Sunday’s Dodgers-Mets game, which is “Lakers Day” at Dodger Stadium. The Lakers Girls will be a part of the pregame ceremonies and fans can purchase a ticket package that includes a special shirt that commemorates the Lakers and Dodgers being world champions in 2020.
4. 🧢 Dodgers unveil “Los Dodgers” City Connect uniform
The Dodgers unveiled their “City Connect Series” uniforms, which they will debut Aug. 20 and 21 against the New York Mets. In honor of the 40th anniversary of “Fernandomania,” the uniforms and caps will feature “Los Dodgers.”
5. 💵 Odds and Ends Powered by Bovada
Here are some odds on Bovada if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:
6. 📆 Aug. 19, 1995: Mike Tyson finishes Peter McNeely in 89 seconds
On this day 26 years ago, “Iron” Mike Tyson returned to the ring for the first time in four years and finished “Hurricane” Pete McNeely in just 89 seconds. The quick fight grossed $96 million. Tyson technically won by disqualification after McNeely’s manager Vinnie Vecchione entered the ring to prevent Tyson from hurting McNeely further in the one-sided bout.
7. 🎂 Happy Birthday Darryl Sutter
Happy birthday to Darryl Sutter. The former head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, who led the team to their first two Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014, turns 62 today. Sutter wasn’t the easiest coach to cover or play for but he led the Kings to at least the conference finals in his first three seasons in Los Angeles and two Stanley Cup titles in three years; momentarily making Los Angeles a hockey hotbed.
8. 🎟 Ticket Time Powered by StubHub
Here are the “get in” prices for tickets on StubHub if you’re thinking about going to a game today:
9. 📺 On The Air
⚾️ 7 p.m. – New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers – SportsNet LA
🏀 7:30 p.m. – Atlanta Dream at Los Angeles Sparks – Spectrum SportsNet
10. 📻 The Arash Markazi Show
On Wednesday’s show, we talked to WWE Superstar Drew McIntyre before he got on his flight to Las Vegas for SummerSlam.
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show on The Mightier 1090 Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., following The Rich Eisen Show. The Mightier 1090 has the second strongest radio signal in North America and can be heard from “Baja to the Canadian Rockies.” You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher.
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That’s it for today. Talk to you all tomorrow!