So, this may be weird for a minute. But bear with me.
I started dating my now ex-wife when we were 17. Back when we were 17 I took a picture of her out at a park or wherever and it was a good picture. She looked lovely in it and, for a few years, I had the picture in a frame on my dresser. Took it with me to college and stuff and kept it on my desk. If someone asked about my girlfriend I’d show them the picture because she looked lovely and I wanted to brag a little. I think everyone has done that with a picture of a significant other at some point.
As I got older and we got married and things, other pictures replaced that one and it was forgotten for a time. Then when I was, I dunno, 35, I found it in a box and looked at it. Of course she still looked lovely in it, but dude, she was 17 in it and I was 35 and there is something weird and wrong about a 35-year-old dude getting all moon-eyed and swoony at a picture of a 17-year-old, even if you took it when you were 17 and you were still with her now. Just an odd ethical area in some weird ways, right?
I never really reconciled how to feel about that and, thankfully, we’re now divorced, I don’t have that picture anymore and I will never again have to ask myself that question because the women I meet from here on out and get moon-eyed and swoony over will at least be in their 30s.
What made me think of all of that was going over to SB Nation this morning and seeing video of a 19-year-old Greg Maddux pitching in a minor league game. Obviously watching your man-crush when he was a teenager doesn’t raise quite the same ethical questions as looking at your teenaged girlfriend, but I feel like it’s almost in the same area code. It certainly stirs feelings inside of me that I don’t know quite what to do with because, well, I’m really damn weird when it comes to Greg Maddux.
Anyway, watch it yourself. And keep an eye out for Rafael Palmeiro and Dante Bichette too. And no, you may not see pictures of my ex-wife when she was 17. That’s way worse for you than it is for me:
Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.
Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.
With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.
As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.
As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.
I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.