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In baseball, no one is hitting but Shohei

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Is Shohei Ohtani the best player in baseball? He's surely the most unique.
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By Bob Gaydos

  • Four " uh make that five, umm I mean six no-hitters in a month and a half of baseball.
  • A pitcher kept in the game for his bat after pitching seven sterling innings. In the American League, no less.
  • That same pitcher leading the major leagues in home runs.
  • Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols is released. Why'd he pick LA over the Bronx?
  • Kentucky Derby winner fails drug test. The horse, that is.
  • The New York Knicks the New York Knicks! make the playoffs.
  • The New York Rangers fire everybody.
  • The Ghost of Jimmy Cannon to the rescue.

As I slogged through the daily ritual of Republican lies and conspiracy theories that make up news reports these days, my eye kept catching a glimpse of other stories that were actual news, interesting, worth noting, especially for a former sports editor. Can I take a (much-needed) break from politics, I wondered. A few readers said go for it

Then Jimmy Cannon popped up in the middle of a Woody Allen movie I'd never heard of. Well, not Jimmy Cannon himself, but a reference to him. In the middle of a scene in which two young brothers are discussing great writers, the younger brother says, "What about Cannon?"

What about Cannon? I said, as my ears perked up. I knew instantly. It was my muse telling me in its own subtle way to do the damn sports column, forget politics for a day. Do a Jimmy Cannon style column.

For those under 60, Jimmy Cannon was a sports columnist for the Journal-American in New York City. His trademark column (and the title of his book) was "Nobody Asked Me, But"" This device allowed Cannon to write about anything he felt like writing about, including non-sports stories. He could knock off a bunch of topics in one column. I've stolen the approach a few times, using my own words, as a salute to the late sports writer.

So,

  • Maybe it's just me, but ": Six no hitters in less than two months of baseball may say more about the caliber of hitters than the caliber of pitchers. In this era of smash ball, batting averages are down, strikeouts are up and nobody knows the hit-and-run sign. Full disclosure, when I started writing this column there were only four no hitters in baseball. Overnight, a pitcher named Spencer Turnbull through a no-hitter for the Detroit Tigers against the Seattle Mariners. Turnbull let the majors in losses a couple of years ago. For the Mariners, it was the second time in two weeks to go an entire game without getting a hit. The Cleveland Indians have also been no-hit twice this year. Foolishly, I didn't finish the column and the Yankees' Corey Kluber threw a no-hitter that night against the Detroit Tigers. Just for good measure, Arizona's Madison Bumgarner actually threw a complete game no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves as well, but it won't count officially as a no-hitter. That's because it came in the second game of a doubleheader, which MLB now has shortened to seven-inning games. The game is official, but the no-hitter isn't. Figure that one out. Anyway, my takeaway is that, while yes, a lot of pitchers are throwing harder, all the bashers in baseball are more concerned with the speed with which their home runs will be leaving the ballpark and less focused on actually hitting the ball more often. The record for most no hitters in a season is eight. We should hit that by June.
  • In this case, I think it's not just me": Shohei Ohtani is the most incredible player in baseball today. If he keeps it up, maybe of all time. That's saying a lot, but the Los Angeles Angels star is doing a lot. Start with the fact that he's a starting pitcher who is leading baseball in home runs hit (14), not allowed, this season. He has batted second in the lineup in a game in which he was the starting pitcher, something that hasn't happened in more than a century in baseball. And forget that four days rest between starts - he has also been the leadoff batter in the lineup, as the DH, a day after being a starting pitcher. Again, more than a century since that's happened. He recently pitched seven innings, striking out 10 batters and then was moved to right field for the rest of the game to keep his bat in the lineup. He's batting .273, with 33 RBIs. He has also started six games on the mound and has a 1-0 record with a 2.37 ERA. He throws right-handed (and can top 100 mph) and hits left-handed. They call him Sho Time. If he keeps it up they may also call him MVP.
  • This column is already getting way too long. Let's wrap it all up here. Maybe it's just me, but" : Albert Pujols could've been a DH in the Bronx, but his personality is better suited to LA. " How do they let a Kentucky Derby winner taken down for failing a drug test, run in the Preakness two weeks later? By the way, he was beaten soundly in the Preakness. Just sayin' ,, The Knicks did something smart in signing Derrick Rose. Derrick Rose did something smart in signing with the playoff-bound Knicks. " James Dolan doesn't like it when things are too quiet at Madison Square Garden, so firing all the Rangers' bosses probably made sense to him. I actually forgot they were still playing hockey.
  • Maybe it's just me, but ": I'd love to see Ohtani pitch a no-hitter and win the game with a walk-off home run in the ninth-inning.

OK, I feel better. That's it on sports until next time.

(PS: The Woody Allen movie was "A Rainy Day in New York." It was like something he jotted down on notecards while waiting in his therapist's outer office. A bit of a memoir, if you will. Allen-lite, but with all the usual Manhattan atmospherics . and great musical accompaniment. Maybe it's just me, but maybe he just needed a paycheck.)

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Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

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Bob Gaydos is a veteran of 40-plus years in daily newspapers. He began as police reporter with The (Binghamton, N.Y.) Sun-Bulletin, eventually covering government and politics as well as serving as city editor, features editor, sports editor and (more...)
 

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