Dodgers News: Justin Turner Defends ‘Face Of Baseball’ Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani, Justin Turner
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers were among the several teams interested in signing Shohei Ohtani four years ago, and not only did they fall short in that pursuit, the two-way star chose to join the L.A. Angels instead.

Ohtani has since electrified the baseball world, and in particular this past season on the mound and in the batter’s box. He is easily becoming the face of baseball, which is having a positive affect on the game and giving MLB something it has needed for a while.

Despite Ohtani’s impact on the game, ESPN Stephen A. Smith remarked earlier this year that it is harmful to have Ohtani as the face of baseball because he needs an interpreter. Smith drew criticism for his opinion and ended up apologizing.

During an episode of the “Holding Kourt Podcast,” Justin Turner defended Ohtani and pushed back against the idea he can’t be the face of a game that’s international:

“Awful take. It’s just ridiculous. Yes, it’s America’s pastime, but baseball is played all over the world. This guy is the greatest baseball player on the planet, so I don’t care what language he’s speaking or if he needs an interpreter. It doesn’t matter. Worldwide, Ohtani is the face of baseball right now.

“And if you don’t believe me, go look at how much his All-Star Game jersey was being auctioned for. … It’s not even a debate. It’s a world game, it’s an international game. There’s players from all over the world and that’s growing and getting more prevalent in our game. To say you have to speak English to be the face of this game is just ridiculous.”

As Turner mentioned, Ohtani’s All-Star Game jersey auctioned for $130,210. It broke the previous record for an MLB auctioned item of $121,800, which was an Ohtani game-used Angels jersey.

MLB viewership was also up this season, as young international stars such as Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Juan Soto bring excitement to the game and draw in new fans from around the world.

As Turner said, baseball is an international game, and it’s better that way.

Ohtani unanimous MVP

Ohtani’s ability on the field spoke for itself this year and it culminated in being unanimously voted American League MVP.

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