Last night's game between Team Japan and Team USA for the WBC title couldn't have been scripted any better. The clear two best teams in the tournament with arguably the two best players in the game who both happen to play for the Los Angeles Angels were set to face off with the game in the balance in the top of the ninth.
Shohei Ohtani struck Mike Trout out on a devastating 3-2 slider to win the WBC for Team Japan. This at-bat was the highlight of the tournament for many people. Well, many people except for Chris "Mad Dog" Russo. Mad Dog is known for working for MLB Network but makes weekly appearances on First Take for ESPN alongside Stephen A. Smith. Russo's take about the WBC is not one many baseball fans will appreciate.
Mad Dog gives awful take about Trout, Ohtani, WBC
All baseball fans wanted yesterday was to see Mike Trout face Shohei Ohtani. They're teammates and arguably the two best players in the game. Who wouldn't want to watch that in a game that means so much? We got even more than that as they faced off literally with the game on the line. One swing could've tied the game. Russo, for some reason, disagreed.
"“Did you see the headlines today? ‘Epic At-Bat,’ ‘Incredible Moment.’ What?! Why?” Russo asked. “Because they’re teammates? I mean, Trout does nothing but strikeout. Trout struck out twice in the game!” “Plus the fact that there was two outs, nobody on. The game was awful!” Russo ranted. “That game was a bad game, I was bored stiff! It was two outs, nobody on. It wasn’t like the bases were loaded, it wasn’t like he was the winning run at the plate, it wasn’t like he fouled off any pitches! He didn’t keep the at-bat alive by fouling off tough pitches! He swung and missed! They’re making this at-bat out to be the greatest at-bat in the history of Major League Baseball! It’s March 21st! Can we take it easy?!”"- Mad Dog Russo on First Take
First off, let's talk about the disrespect to the best player of the last decade and future Hall of Famer Mike Trout. He does nothing but strike out?? Mike Trout did lead the AL in strikeouts in 2014. You know what else he did that year? Take home the league MVP honors and lead the Angels to the postseason.
Trout did strike out in that at-bat against Ohtani without fouling a pitch off. Which one was he supposed to foul off? The 100 mph fastballs? The devastating slider that not a single player in history could lay off? Sometimes great pitching trumps great hitting, and that's exactly what happened here.
Yes, there were two outs and nobody on, but one swing could've tied the game! Trout hit 40 home runs last season and had one in the tournament. He's one of the best power hitters in the game today. How exactly are you bored stiff with a sellout crowd making noise with a championship in the balance with a full count involving one of the best hitters in the world facing one of the best pitchers in the world?
Look, I get the WBC isn't for everyone. It's not the same as a World Series game for me also. It doesn't have to be for it to be exciting. It sounds like he'd rather watch a random Spring Training game with minor leaguers playing which in my opinion is an insane take.
Baseball fans all around the world were glued to their televisions, especially for this one at-bat. I'm sorry he didn't foul a pitch off, the pitcher happens to be one of the best in baseball. You cannot take anything away from Angels fans, baseball fans, or fans of drama. That ending was picture-perfect.