Sports | July 14, 2021 10:56 am

MLB Altered the Rules of the All-Star Game to Showcase Shohei Ohtani

Ohtani led off the game for the American League and then pitched a scoreless bottom half of the inning

Shohei Ohtani during the 91st MLB All-Star Game
Shohei Ohtani during the 91st MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field.
Alex Trautwig/Getty

Possibly to the dismay of Stephen A. Smith, Major League Baseball changed the rules of the All-Star Game at the home of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in order to ensure that rising star Shohei Ohtani got to shine as much as possible.

Ohtani, who led off the game for the American League and then pitched a scoreless bottom half of the inning, was listed as the designated hitter for the AL, even though MLB rules dictate that teams that elect to let their pitcher hit forfeit the DH. In order to let him spend more time in the spotlight, MLB was apparently willing to bend the rules for Ohtani.

“We all know Shohei was voted in as the DH and he was one of five starting pitchers voted in by the players. I kind of took that to heart,” Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, who led the AL, said Monday at a news conference. “I think we would all respect what he’s done and meant to our game this year. This is what the fans want to see. It’s personally what I want to see. And to have the opportunity to do something that’s a generational talent, pretty special. I begged Major League Baseball to tweak the rule for [Tuesday’s] game, because if they didn’t, I know I’d screw it up the rest of the way, pulling pinch-hitters and DHs.”

Tweaking the rules worked for Ohtani and Cash as the former was the winning pitcher based on his one inning of work and the latter was able to guide the AL to a 5-2 win over the National League.

The first player selected to the game as both a pitcher and a hitter, Ohtani is leading the major leagues with 33 home runs and has also struck out 87 batters in 67 innings and posted a 3.49 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels during the first half of the season. Dominant on both offense and defense, Ohtani may be the most deserving All-Star we’ve seen in recent memory.

“I think so far this has been the best experience, the most memorable,” Ohtani said on Tuesday through his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “Obviously, I haven’t played in the playoffs or the World Series yet. Once I do that, it’s probably going to surpass it. but for now, it’s most memorable.”