With snow covering the ground in many parts of the country, it’s hard to imagine that baseball is right around the corner.
And yet pitchers and catchers are flocking to Arizona and Florida, respectively, to begin preparations for the 2018 MLB season.
As teams head to spring training, die hard baseball fans follow, to enjoy a dose of warm weather coupled with the opportunity to take in some preseason action of their favorite team.
The most intriguing storyline entering this year’s spring training is the arrival of Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, who signed with the Angels in December.
Ohtani is expected to contribute as both a pitcher and an outfielder, something practically unheard of in modern baseball. Upon signing with the Angels, he instantly became the No. 2 overall prospect in the sport despite never having played a minor league game.
Jason Coskrey, who’s covered Ohtani for the Japan Times, believes Ohtani’s level of stardom is hard to match.
“Ohtani kind of transcended fandom in a way. Of course people still rooted for their teams, but fans were always waiting to see what Ohtani would do next, how hard he would throw, how many home runs he would hit, etc.,” Coskrey told Vivid Seats. “Think LeBron James-level fame, but without the spectre of a Michael Jordan-esque figure hanging over him like LeBron has.”
Trying his hand at American baseball is something that Ohtani has contemplated for years, according to Coskrey. Now that he’s finally arrived, Coskrey expects unprecedented buzz for the two-way sensation.
“He nearly went to North America from high school, so that question was always there, and has been building throughout his career. Now that he's there, I expect the attention to be unlike any other Japanese player before him.”
Vivid Seats analyzes its ticket price data to break down all the ins and outs of MLB spring training ticket prices: