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Ohtani’s moonshot at Oracle Park invokes memories of Bonds

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Ohtani's moonshot at Oracle Park invokes memories of Bonds

Ohtani’s moonshot at Oracle Park evokes Bonds memories originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Coming into his first series at Oracle Park with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Shohei Ohtani was hitless in three games on the Giants’ home field, going 0-for-8 with the Angels. That streak ended Monday with the first pitch he saw.

And in his seventh at-bat of the series, Ohtani set a heartbreaking example to all the Giants that he would have been fine as a hitter in San Francisco.

Barry Bonds territory, meet Shohei Ohtani territory.

Ohtani on the first pitch of his second at-bat Tuesday night at the Dodgers victory 10-2 he threw a terribly placed Keaton Winn slider almost toward McCovey Cove in the deepest part of the park. The two-time American League MVP towered over the tall brick wall in right center field and the stands alike.

“You don’t see a lot of guys throwing the ball that far out in that part of the ballpark, and luckily I played with one here,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It was pretty impressive.”

Roberts was a Giants teammate with Bonds in the home run king’s final season of his storied career, one in which he hit 28 home runs at age 42, including 16 at what was then AT&T Park.

“Yeah, that was Barry territory,” Roberts said of Ohtani’s outburst. “There aren’t many guys who can do that.”

Putting a ball on a tee for Ohtani didn’t help the Giants either. Seriously, Winn’s slider to Ohtani was built for batting practice, setting him up to be on global highlight reels everywhere.

Ohtani’s 12th home run of the 2024 MLB season traveled 446 feet and had an exit velocity of 113.4 mph. By comparison, the Giants’ 3-4-5 hitters on Tuesday night (Matt Chapman, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Wilmer Flores) have hit eight home runs combined in 2024.

Jorge Soler’s solo throw off Dodgers reliever Daniel Hudson earlier this year had the highest exit velocity on a hit by a Giant this season at 112 mph. Ohtani’s hit was the longest hit at Oracle Park by 13 feet so far this season.

It had been almost two years, on August 15, 2022, since a home run was hit to Ohtani in the pitchers’ paradise of Oracle Park. The solo shot was the most hit ball in the park this year, and the seventh most hit ball in the park since the Statcast era began in 2015.

The admiring “oohs” and “ahhs” from a large contingent of Dodger fans in the stands could not be ignored. Dodger Blue has mixed in, and perhaps taken over, the Orange and Black Giants through two games, both losses. It’s hard to imagine the scene changing in San Francisco’s favor on Wednesday night as this series comes to a close.

“I think it’s the Ohtani effect,” Roberts said during his pregame availability when asked about Dodgers fans traveling in droves. “He is a guy who has certainly moved the needle and people come from all over the world to see him play.

“We traveled well, but this year it’s on another level.”

If all 30 MLB teams could have afforded Ohtani this offseason, they would have handed him a blank check before he could utter the word “no.” The historic chase gear placed on the once-in-a-lifetime talent had fans searching social media for clues and tracking flight patterns.

The Giants were considered one of the few teams that had a real shot at adding Ohtani, exactly 30 years after signing Bonds to a then-record $43.75 million contract. One can imagine photographs of Bonds touring the bases in San Francisco being part of The Giants recruiting speech.. A video of Bonds’ 35 Splash Hits had to have been in management’s plans to woo Ohtani to the Bay.

And even the main memories Ohtani has of San Francisco when it became a global phenomenon in Japan are this stadium and Bonds admiring his 160 career home runs here during the last eight years of his MLB career.

“The image I have of the stadium is very beautiful, historic,” Ohtani said through translator Will Ireton. “I really like the view of this stadium and I’ve seen Barry Bonds hit a lot of home runs, so I’m very familiar with the rivalry between the Dodgers and the Giants.”

Ohtani finished one triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, a single and two RBIs. He had the two hardest hits of the night, and is now 5-for-10 in the first two games of this three-game series. However, there is one thing Ohtani wishes he could change.

Because of how hard and far his home run went, it bounced off the concrete instead of floating on the water and causing chaos in the kayak.

“I thought I had one today,” Ohtani said. “I was disappointed it didn’t happen.”

Bonds was present at the Shohei Show, and everyone left murmuring the same word that has been hanging around left field for the past 17 years as they continue to adore Ohtani’s latest display of greatness: Barry.

No one has deserved the same comparison solely from a baseball standpoint since the game pushed Bonds into retirement after the 2007 season. There is no hypothetical with Ohtani, just a reality of who is the best baseball player since Bonds, all while rehabilitating his right arm which makes him equally dominant on the other side of the ball as well.

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