Shohei Ohtani's comments about Joe Maddon really tug on the heartstrings

Shohei Ohtani, Joe Maddon, LA Angels
Shohei Ohtani, Joe Maddon, LA Angels / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After Joe Maddon was fired, many pointed to how the team has underachieved under him considering that the squad had the two best players in baseball in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.

Of course, injuries took their toll in 2021, but it is true that Maddon's 2020 team and his team so far this year didn't perform as well as they were supposed to when taking these two players into account. Things are complicated, and many are divided on whether it was a good move or not.

Many point to the fact that Maddon is one of the most well-liked managers in baseball by the players and is very respected around the game. That's definitely true, and after Ohtani spoke about his now ex-manager, it's clear that Maddon's relationship with his superstar player was never the issue:

Shohei Ohtani refused to place all the blame for the LA Angels' struggles on Joe Maddon.

Shohei Ohtani showed great appreciation for Joe Maddon after the LA Angels fired him. It pulls on the heartstrings because no matter what one's opinion is on Maddon, HE was the one who figured out how to use Ohtani to the best of his abilities.

Ohtani went from an exceptional hitter and solid pitcher who could only last 104 games offensively and 10 games on the mound with Mike Scioscia, to a solid hitter who wasn't healthy enough to pitch with Brad Ausmus, to the best player in the world with Maddon.

Many wondered if Ohtani would ever be able to put his two-way talents on full display before Maddon arrived in Anaheim. They wondered if he was being babied. Then, they saw he and Maddon work together to have the best season in baseball history in 2021.

It's why Ohtani had nothing but thanks to give Maddon. Maddon is a major part of why ShoTime's two-way dreams came true. Clearly, he and Maddon had a good relationship after those comments. It was also awesome to see Ohtani be a leader himself and take accountability for this then-12 game skid.

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Both are men of high character, and they clearly had a bond over that. Best wishes to both parties as both the Angels and Maddon look to land on their feet after the tough news.