Japan’s Shohei Ohtani is better than US legend Babe Ruth, Shannon Sharpe claims

Shannon Sharpe has strikingly compared Japan’s Shohei Ohtani to America baseball legend Babe Ruth, claiming the LA Angels’ two-way player is better than the New York Yankees legend due to playing in an ‘integrated system’. 

Co-hosting the latest episode of Fox Sports’ Undisputed alongside Skip Bayless, the three-time Super Bowl champ pointed out how blessed sports fans have been to watch first-class, competitive sporting events over the last six months. 

‘Skip, the last two world events…I don’t know if we can get any better. You remember the World Cup and we had [Kylian] M’bappe and Lionel Messi going goal for goal and then it goes to extra [time] and then goes to PKs. 

‘And then you get the World Baseball Classic. You get Showtime Ohtani going up against his teammate Mike Trout. And this is what you want. You get two of the best [MLB] players. OK. What you got? Let me show you.

‘Skip, he’s… I don’t want to say ”yeah he better” because Babe Ruth did not play in an integrated system. He did not face the best of the best because there were some black players that were really, really good that he didn’t get an opportunity to face. [Ohtani’s] facing the best black players, Latin players, whatever player there is…’

Three-time Super Bowl champion Shannon Sharpe, 54, compared Japan’s Shohei Ohtani to America’s Babe Ruth on the latest episode of ‘Undisputed’ on Tuesday

Ohtani and Team Japan lifted the WBC trophy after defeating Team USA in Miami on Tuesday

Ohtani and Team Japan lifted the WBC trophy after defeating Team USA in Miami on Tuesday

Ruth is regarded by many to undoubtedly be the greatest baseball player of all time despite playing during America's Segregation Era

 Ruth is regarded by many to undoubtedly be the greatest baseball player of all time despite playing during America’s Segregation Era

Having played 22 seasons of professional baseball, from 1914 through 1935, Ruth began his MLB career as a star left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. However, he achieved newfound levels of fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. 

Considered by many as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture, Ruth is also regarded by many to undoubtedly be the greatest baseball player of all time. That accolade, however, is widely disputed due to black players having to play in the Negro League, at the time that ‘the Bambino’ played during The Segregation Era.

Ruth was eventually elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, a year after his retirement in 1935, as one of its ‘first five’ inaugural members, receiving 95.13 percent of votes in favor of his induction (first ballot). 

‘Skip, he’s historically great,’ Sharpe further said about Ohtani. ‘He’s transcended great, whatever, you want to say is Pantheon.

‘He is to Japan what Messi is to Argentina. He is to Portugal what [Cristiano] Ronaldo is. […] He’s that big, Skip. I mean he’s everything.’

Sharpe added that Ohtani is ‘better than advertised’ due to his versatile skillset at bat, in the outfield and on the mound, comparing the 28-year-old to the role of a movie trailer for an exceptionally well-made movie.

‘You know how they show you the trailer and then you’re like ”ooh that looks like a good movie”,’ the 54-year-old said. ‘And then you go and see the movie. They say the trailer that doesn’t do it justice.

‘Whatever we use to describe Ohtani, we’re not doing him justice. Because he’s so great as a pitcher and then now you go to the other side of the plate. So how many times have we ever had the best pitcher also be the best hitter, or he’s the best player. 

Ohtani was voted the tournament's MVP after batting .435 with one homer, four doubles, eight RBIs and 10 walks while going 2-0 with a save and a 1.86 ERA on the mound, striking out 11 in 9 2/3 innings

Ohtani was voted the tournament’s MVP after batting .435 with one homer, four doubles, eight RBIs and 10 walks while going 2-0 with a save and a 1.86 ERA on the mound, striking out 11 in 9 2/3 innings

Ruth hitting his first home run during his tour of Japan at Miji Shrine Stadium in Tokyo in 1934

Ruth hitting his first home run during his tour of Japan at Miji Shrine Stadium in Tokyo in 1934

Sharpe then, of course, made a football analogy, knowing all too well about being a fundamental player on a team without necessarily playing in a key position, having played as a tight-end in the NFL for 14 seasons, primarily with the Denver Broncos.

‘Skip, you know sometimes how the quarterback isn’t necessarily the best player, but you know, he’s more valuable,’ the first NFL tight end to ever amass more than 10,000 receiving yards said.

‘He’s value. He’s best. He’s everything,’ he added, referring to Ohtani. ‘Will we ever see it again? I don’t know. I doubt it. I mean, it took this long for us. I mean, wouldn’t bear people to hear the stories. Not very many people who are alive to see Babe Ruth and his exploits. But to watch this young man… if he’s 24 years old, he could be the first guy to get a $500million contract. He can literally make $50million a year and he’d be underpaid.

‘And that’s the thing Skip… because he’s in Anaheim. We don’t get an opportunity to see this greatness on display like if he was [on the] LA Dodgers. If he was at say, New York, or with Boston with the Red Sox. 

Sharpe noted that US sports broadcasters aren't doing Ohtani justice by not often showing his talent and skills on TV, due to the fact that the Japanese two-way player is a member of the LA Angels - a team that hasn't reached the postseason since 2014

Sharpe noted that US sports broadcasters aren’t doing Ohtani justice by not often showing his talent and skills on TV, due to the fact that the Japanese two-way player is a member of the LA Angels – a team that hasn’t reached the postseason since 2014

Referring to Japan’s 3-2 win over the U.S on Tuesday, in which Ohtani put on a dominant pitching display, Sharpe said: ‘Skip, look what he did. He went through Mookie Betts, MVP. Mike Trout, MVP. Goldschmidt, MVP. He did that.

‘What you want…Skip, this is like if I’m in the Super Bowl, I want to see Jerry Rice and I want to see Deion [Sanders] go head-to-head. […] Money on the line. We throwin’ the fade.

‘What you got…’

Ohtani was voted MVP of the WBC after batting .435 with one homer, four doubles, eight RBIs and 10 walks while going 2-0 with a save and a 1.86 ERA on the mound, striking out 11 in 9 2/3 innings. 

Japan joins the Dominican Republic in 2013 as the only unbeaten champions of baseball’s premier national team tournament. The Samurai Warriors went 7-0 and outscored opponents 56-18, reaching the final for the first time since winning the first two WBCs in 2006 and 2009. No other nation has won the title more than once. 

Japan will also get $3m in prize money, while the US will only receive $1.7m. Half of each goes to players, the other half to the national baseball federation. 

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