Back in August, FOX Sports’ Ben Verlander traveled to Japan for 10 days to immerse in the people, the culture and the baseball, particularly the baseball journey of the singular Shohei Ohtani.
Verlander’s time in Japan included visiting Ohtani’s hometown, attending several ballgames, exploring the cities, meeting Ohtani’s former coaches, former teammates and hometown mayor, and hosting several meet-ups with fans.
He then returned to Los Angeles and conducted a one-on-one interview with Ohtani.
All of this will be unveiled Tuesday in “Searching for Shohei: An Interview Special,” FOX Sports’ 60-minute documentary produced by Religion of Sports that will be broadcast on FS1 after Game 1 of the NLCS between the Phillies and Padres (8:03 p.m. ET).
Shohei Ohtani interview with Ben Verlander to air Oct. 18
Ben Verlander is proud to announce that “Searching for Shohei,” an interview special, will debut Oct. 18 on FS1, showcasing Ben’s trip to Japan and a one-on-one with Ohtani himself.
Watch “Flippin’ Bats with Ben Verlander” on YouTube, or subscribe on podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts.
Verlander has been an outspoken fan of Ohtani’s and an admirer of his accomplishments since before the two-way star’s MVP season in 2021. In fact, “Shohei Ohtani News” has become a recurring segment on FOX Sports’ “Flippin’ Bats” podcast.
“I take it as a sense of responsibility to make sure I’m talking about him the right way,” Verlander told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
Ohtani has had two unprecedented seasons, starring as both a pitcher and a hitter for the Los Angeles Angels. In 2022, the reigning unanimous AL MVP produced a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 166 innings, while also hitting 34 home runs and being 42% better than the average major-league hitter by wRC+ (weighted runs created plus). Essentially, Ohtani was a top-five pitcher and a top-15 hitter amid doing both jobs full-time.
It was a campaign that exceeded his 2021 output but also proved to be bittersweet for the two-way phenom. Upon arriving home in Japan on Tuesday, he lamented the fact the Angels were again far from contention.
“I have to say that August and September in particular felt longer to me than last year,” Ohtani said, speaking in Japanese. “We were not able to play as many good games as we would like — including 14 consecutive losses. So I have a rather negative impression of this season.”
While Ohtani is expected to finish second behind Aaron Judge in this year’s AL MVP race, you can probably guess which player would get Verlander’s vote.
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