Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way star, has had an incredible first few weeks in the majors. Two fantastic starts, three home runs and a triple slash of .367/.424/.767 has earned him thousands of new fans and made him a sensation everywhere he goes. In fact, Ohtani is so much of a sensation that it’s starting to get just a teensy bit disruptive.
USA Today reported that three women who were sitting behind the visitors’ dugout at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night for the Angels game against the Kansas City Royals were asked by stadium security to stop cheering so loudly during Shohei Ohtani’s at-bats. The message reportedly came from the Angels dugout.
If that sounds really harsh, there are a few extraneous circumstances to consider. Kauffman Stadium has a capacity of 37,903, but on Friday night there was a paid attendance of 15,011. If more Angels (or Ohtani fans) had been in the stadium, the cheering might not have been so distracting. But in a stadium that’s filled less than halfway, three “screaming” college students (as USA Today described them) could probably be heard. Plus, they were sitting behind the visitors’ dugout, which means their cheers were even more audible from home plate.
The women, who were Japanese exchange students, had no problem quieting down. And they didn’t just quiet down, they fell completely silent during Ohtani’s next at-bat.
After the game, a 5-4 for the Angels in which Ohtani went 2-for-4 with a double, Ohtani’s translator Ippei Mizuhara shed a little light on the situation to USA Today.
“He heard it, he’s thankful for the cheers,’’ said Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s interpreter, “but at the plate, he likes to focus and block out the noise.”
Ohtani, as is his way, focused on the effect it had on the team as a whole.
“I was aware of that,’’ Ohtani said, “but I wasn’t the one that asked for that. (The Angels) just did it so everyone could focus at the plate.
“I was thankful for that.”
In the end, this was a delicate situation that was handled well by everyone. But there might be a few lessons here: the next time you go cheer Ohtani anywhere other than Angel Stadium, either bring enough people to form a legitimate cheering section so the shouts aren’t so distracting, or bring a bunch of signs for every imaginable cheering situation. Either way, everyone wins.
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