Shohei Ohtani's elbow surgery yesterday means we won't see him on the mound again until 2025. Which is very unfortunate for everyone who enjoys watching his greatness but even worse for the man himself. If Ohtani hit the free agent market this offseason healthy and capable of maintaining the two-way greatness he showed over the last six months, he would've made at least $500 million or more on his next contract. Now, though, teams are paying for Ohtani the hitting sensation rather than the two-way sensation-- which still guarantees Ohtani will be a very rich man in short order, but not the record-setting rich that awaited him if not for his injury.
Today is Mad Dog Wednesday which means the First Take producers are more willing than usual to throw baseball into the B or C block so Ohtani ended up as a topic. Stephen A. Smith decided to take the stance that it's actually good for the Los Angeles Angels that Ohtani can't pitch because now they won't be tempted to pay him half a billion dollars. Smith went on to argue that Ohtani is not worth a $500 million contract because the Angels are still a losing franchise and further claimed he can't draw fans to Angel Stadium.
This is what happens every time Stephen A. talks baseball. He says some stuff that isn't super debatable (like how teams don't need to pay any one player hundreds of millions to win World Series) and then says something that immediately proves he's way out of his depth.
Simply from an anecdotal viewpoint, Shohei Ohtani is literally box office! International fans have flocked to his games in ways very few other players in the history of the game have done. If Stephen A. went to even one game that Ohtani played in (which he clearly did not) he'd see hordes of fans going into the stadium decked out in Ohtani gear. Ask anyone who went to an Angels game in somewhere other than Los Angeles and they'll say the same. A huge chunk of fans are not there to see the Angels or whoever they might be playing. They are there to see Ohtani. He's an international superstar.
But that doesn't necessarily prove Stephen A. wrong. Anecdotal evidence is not the end-all be-all. But you know what does prove him wrong? Average attendance numbers! And the Los Angeles Angels ranked 11th this season among all teams in Major League Baseball. This is despite the fact that they are a sorry franchise with a cheap owner who has done everything he could to beat down the hopes and dreams of the fanbase.
So not only is Stephen A. wrong about who is to blame for empty seats at Angel stadium, he's overstating how many empty seats there actually were. A double whammy Wednesday.