Shohei Ohtani has one clear message for Japan ahead of the World Baseball Classic final against Team USA: aim for the win.
Of course that isn’t surprising and to be fair, Ohtani shouldn’t have felt the need to say that to his Japan teammates. However, the Los Angeles Angels star knows very well how difficult it might be for the rest of the squad. After all, they are facing a star-studded USA lineup filled with players that some of his teammates look up to.
Team USA is headlined by the likes of Trea Turner, Mike Trout and Mookie Betts to name a few. Ohtani often plays against those superstars in the MLB, but the same cannot be said for a majority of Japan’s players.
However, as Japan faces Team USA in the finale of the World Baseball Classic, Ohtani wants his teammates to forget being fans for the day and only think about winning.
“Let’s stop admiring them. … If you admire them, you can’t surpass them. We came here to surpass them, to reach the top. For one day, let’s throw away our admiration for them and just think about winning,” Ohtani said, per Dylan Hernandez of LA Times.
Shohei Ohtani certainly couldn’t have said it any better. They are the underdogs heading into the contest, but they can’t think like one when the game starts. They cannot head into the game thinking they are going to lose against their heroes or idols and some of the best players in the world.
Ohtani’s pregame speech:
“Let’s stop admiring them. … If you admire them, you can’t surpass them. We came here to surpass them, to reach the top. For one day, let’s throw away our admiration for them and just think about winning.” https://t.co/Y12PQ6EBHL
— Dylan Hernández (@dylanohernandez) March 21, 2023
Hopefully for Japan, Ohtani’s strong message will be able to wake the team and get them into the right mindset for the final.