Ben Verlander's presence in the baseball world is the equivalent of Captain Obvious existing on your shoulder in everyday life. We're not knocking the man's love for the sport, but there's hardly ever any nuance or novelty in his coverage.
And his obsession with Shohei Ohtani? Even ESPN's Jeff Passan ripped him for it in an NSFW tweet that prompted an immediate public apology. Yeah ... that's how far this has gotten.
So when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Ohtani to a 10-year, $700 million deal, fans were undoubtedly thrilled, but in the back of their minds they knew Verlander would eventually be lurking. His incessant coverage of Ohtani would have the Dodgers revolving in his uninformative baseball discussions on the Flippin' Bats podcast (again, just a baseball term randomly thrown in as a podcast name because ... #sports).
Never did we think for a second, though, that Verlander's Ohtani blinders would cause him to ignore some of baseball's most important history. But that's exactly what happened this week when the Fox Sports MLB account thought it'd be a good idea to further disseminate this on social media.
Verlander said the Ohtani contract "means everything" and it's the "most important signing in Dodgers history." Only problem? The Dodgers were responsible for breaking the color barrier and signing Jackie Robinson in the 1940s.
Ben Verlander's Shohei Ohtani obsession caused him to ignore landmark Dodgers history
Once again ... zero substance behind Verlander's case. Ohtani is going to go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Dodgers cap? He'll be remember forever in a Dodgers uniform? Drawing the parallel to Babe Ruth, who's a forgotten Red Sox and a legendary Yankee?
Verlander then devolves into a fruitless financial argument, claiming the Dodgers aren't paying $700 million for the player Shohei Ohtani ... they're paying $700 million for the Shohei Ohtani brand for the rest of time. Perhaps that's notable but ... that doesn't trump the impact of Robinson's signing and subsequent success both on and off the field as a Dodger in the 1940s and 1950s when the sport was in a state of turmoil.
Robinson's number is retired across the sport and there's a Jackie Robinson Day where everybody wears his jersey to honor his contributions to America's pastime. There will not be a Shohei Ohtani Day. Hell, there's even a possibility Ohtani doesn't make the Hall of Fame! He still has a long career ahead of him with much to accomplish and just underwent his second major elbow surgery since 2019.
The Ohtani signing is historic. It'll be remembered forever. There's a good chance it won't be topped in our lifetime. But just because the monetary value of players -- particularly special ones like Ohtani -- is increasing by the hour, doesn't mean we're now prioritizing talent and "brands" over societal influence and historical significance.
Robinson will remain the most important signing in baseball history more than likely for the rest of time. No amount of money or superior talent will change that.