BRONX, NY — Tuesday evening it was billed as the 100th anniversary of Yankee Stadium, the original one across the street and the new that opened in 2009. The Yankees and Angels in an early season matchup with Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, and Shohei Ohtani.
The three are perhaps prime players in baseball, appropriate for this occasion in the Bronx, though Ohtani and Trout got the best of Judge and the Yankees. These were not the Yankees Hall of Fame contingent of Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Derek Jeter.
The Angels 5-2 win indicated that Ohtani and Trout are a version of those old Yankees. They have Ohtani, the reigning AL CY Young Award winner. The Angels have Trout, still of opinion the best player in baseball.
However, Judge the reigning AL MVP, after a record 2022 AL home run season, is considered the face of baseball. Then again, this is a new era. These Yankees have their version of a hopeful World Series championship that has eluded them since 2009.
“It’s a beautiful field, passionate fans,” Ohtani said. “I always looks forward to playing here.”
And Ohtani set the tone with with a first inning home run (#4) off Clarke Schmidt. Trout, a three-time AL MVP, hit his 18th career home run off the Yankees and the Angels cruised along. Two more ballgames in the Bronx and the Yankees hope Judge can duplicate what they did.
Overall, though, Ohtani continues to resemble that best player in baseball. He won’t pitch in this series and that could be good for the Yankees because they did not resemble their opening win of that new and grand ballpark in the Bronx a century ago.
Then, Ruth hit a three-run homer and the Yankees beat the Red Sox. He was the first million dollar contracted ballplayer in 1923, Ohtani could be the first $500 million dollar player in his walk-off year, a prized acquisition if the Angels can’t match the anticipated and lucrative offers.
Ohtani said through his interpreter, “I did not know Babe homered,” when questioned about that game 100-years ago, but was aware of the 100th anniversary. Unique how baseball always works in strange ways with home runs coming off the bats of Ruth and Ohtani, a century apart
And Schmidt could still be a work in progress, moved up in the pitching rotation because Carlos Rodón and Luis Severino are beset with injuries, and not projected to return anytime soon. This was not a good look for a Yankees team that couldn’t match the Angels. The Yankees managed four hits and did not have a rally in them, cause for concern against starter José Suarez (Naguanagua, Venezuela) and four relievers.
Suarez gave up two runs, three hits, and a career high six walks in 3 ⅓ innings. José Quijada recorded his third save with three outs.
But Ohtani stole the show. The two-position player and the Yankees could be one of several teams next year to match the offers, though ownership in the Bronx have been as quiet as the Yankees bats when questions loom about a possible future at Yankee stadium for Ohtani.
Ohtani stands and delivers, he has a contingent of Japanese reporters that follow him from city-to-city. He has teammates that admire his temperment, and that ability to hit home runs as the Angels’ designated hitter.
“A lot of people ask me if he is human,” said Gio Urshela, The former Yankee had teammates that could hit long home runs out of the ballpark, Judge and the often injured Giancarlo Stanton.
But nothing was better than watching another home run off the bat of Ohtani. He watched his latest home run ball land in the Yankees bullpen in right-center. Similar to Ruth, he watched the flight path.
He hit three long balls out of the ballpark during pre game batting practice, viewed from the early arrival of Yankees fans who gave him an ovation.
For the moment, though, Ohtani is with the Angels. Perhaps in the next century, when baseball is played in a different era, there will be another Ohtani at Yankee Stadium. Perhaps another Mike Trout and Aaron Judge also.
But Tuesday night, the Angels had Ohtani and Trout. They got the best of Aaron Judge and the 2023 New York Yankees.
Rich Mancuso: Co-editor and senior writer latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso.
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