It is common practice in sports to engage in hyperbole when talking about events as they occur. Routinely, lopsided trades are compared to the Babe Ruth trade, players' seasons are called the greatest ever, and solid-if-unspectacular plays are called the best since Willie Mays' catch (impossible).
At this point, it is a time honored tradition to exaggerate accomplishments and moves because, well, it sells. However, the dialogue surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers inking Shohei Ohtani to the largest deal in the sport's history has been particularly over the top.
Was Ohtani's deal historic? Absolutely, and on a number of measurable levels at that. Could it alter the trajectory of the sport of baseball for the foreseeable future for better or worse? You bet. However, Fox Sports' Ben Verlander took it one step further and called Shohei's signing "the most important signing in Dodgers history."
Well, former Dodgers star Justin Turner was absolutely not having any of that.
Dodgers fan favorite Justin Turner puts Ben Verlander on blast for his terrible take
While Ohtani's contract will reverberate for many years to come, Verlander certainly is a prisoner of the moment here. Yes, Ohtani is a once-in-a-generation player who signed for freaking $700 million, but importance is more than home runs and dollar signs. That Verlander completely ignored Jackie Robinson's breaking the color barrier is pretty embarrassing, and JT was absolutely correct to call him out for it.
However, Turner wasn't done there. He went on to point out that while Jackie was a sinful omission, there is another Dodger great that deserves more love as well.
For younger fans, No. 34 was worn by Dodgers great Fernando Valenzuela who was a one man phenomenon himself in the early and mid-1980s, as "Fernandomania" swept through the league while he was racking All-Star appearances and top 5 Cy Young finishes. That included a win in 1981, along with Rookie of the Year honors. He single-handedly boosted the involvement of Latino fans in the game of baseball and helped propel the Dodgers as a franchise to where they are today.
Could Ohtani have that kind of impact? Sure. He certainly has the talent and draw to become one of the greatest players to every play the game. However, Turner is absolutely right to have folks pump the brakes a bit until we at least see him play for a bit in a Dodgers uniform. Hyperbole may be an easy way to get engagement these days, but Verlander went at least one step too far.