Tuesday night, Shohei Ohtani the Angels visit the Yankees in a game that takes place in the Bronx on . Babe Ruth hit a home run in that game in a ballpark that came to be known colloquially as "The House that Ruth built."
One of the many reasons there was such lore about Babe Ruth for years was his ability as a two-way player. I've delved into this subject before, but Ruth was basically. If we lop off Ohtani's 10 pitcher starts and 367 plate appearances from 2018, 2023 would be his third as a full-time, two-way player. He won the MVP in 2021 and finished second last season. He's off to a big start this season both at the plate and on the mound, too.
This all comes together neatly Tuesday night with Ohtani playing in Yankee Stadium on the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first Yankee Stadium. Former Yankees ace CC Sabathia will be doing his "Clubhouse" broadcast on MLB Network for the game.
CBS Sports had the opportunity to discuss the broadcast, Ohtani and Sabathia's own experiences with the retired lefty on Monday. MLB Network says the following on the broadcast format: "In a non-traditional game telecast, viewers will experience organic analysis, reaction and storytelling from a group of former players as they watch the game together."
First off, the Clubhouse broadcast was CC's idea. He came up with it while being enlightened about a different sport.
"I got the idea because I'm really close with Tiki Barber and about five or six years ago he came over to watch the Super Bowl," Sabathia said. "Watching the Super Bowl with him and getting the insight of actually watching with a player was amazing. So I went to my publicist Ron Berkowitz and we called MLB Network and said 'We think we have a good idea, would you guys be interested in letting us do this?' and now there's the Manning Cast and KayRod."
I asked Sabathia how much preparation he does for the broadcast and he let out a loud laugh before simply saying, "none!"
"That's kind of the point of it, that it gives the perspective of a non-scripted athlete watching a baseball game with you and telling you what he's seeing," he said.
When I noted that he actually prepared his whole life for it by playing the game at the highest level for 19 years, he agreed.
"Just more insight for the fans is what I think the goal is."
Sabathia has been singing Ohtani's praises for years, including multiple times when he's said. Sabathia was a six-time All-Star and Cy Young winner (he might have won again in 2008 if he didn't switch leagues midseason). He was considered a very good hitter for a pitcher. We needed that caveat, because he was a career .207 hitter with a .306 slugging percentage. Those are good compared to other pitchers, but for a position player those numbers would be awful.
I asked Sabathia if maybe the average fan just doesn't grasp how difficult it is to excel at both pitching and hitting.
"I don't think so and that's why I give him such high praise," said Sabathia. "People like to compare him to Babe Ruth, but there wasn't that much overlap and I don't think the players were as good as they are now."
Let's keep in mind that starting pitchers have a routine -- not just on the day they pitch, but throughout the entire season. They have a set schedule of going about their business the day after starts, the next day and so on. To be able to excel at hitting while going through a starting pitcher's routine is perhaps what seems to impress Sabathia the most.
"That's what's so amazing about it," he said. "Everything that I did to get ready just to pitch every five days, I couldn't imagine doing that and still being one of the best hitters on the team -- producing that way. It's incredible what he's able to do."
Though Ohtani is a unique talent in today's game, something Sabathia and him might have in common here in the near future is being an incredibly sought-after free agent. Sabathia was traded from Cleveland to Milwaukee in 2008 and then hit free agency. He ended up signing a monster deal with the Yankees. It appears Ohtani is headed to a free-agent frenzy. What might that be like? It's not all positive, according to the big man.
"It's stressful," Sabathia said. "Everybody wants to be wooed and feel wanted, but it's a stressful couple of weeks or months to go through because if you have people who depend on you, you don't have a place to play. You're trying to figure out where you're gonna live, your next move and all these different things are going through your head. At the same time you're getting all these offers, so it's hard to process everything.
"Having my wife with me and being able to go through it with her was better, so hopefully he has someone in his corner to help him through his process. It's not all it's cracked up to be. We all want to get to free agency and get to the money, but the process is stressful."
Shifting gears. the other aspect of Tuesday night's broadcast will be the attention on Yankee Stadium. It's obviously not the original, but it still has that name and there's always the "mystique" or "aura" of playing in that ballpark. Sabathia joined the Yankees for the 2009 season, which was the first in this iteration of Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won the World Series that year, too. He has great appreciation for the history.
"The history of the Yankees coincides with the history of baseball," Sabathia said. "So many things have happened in the Bronx and at that stadium and I think people feel that. If you go in there and have a cool night in Yankee Stadium, you're name's gonna be in there with like Lou Gehrig or, for me, it would be like Whitey Ford or Ron Guidry. The stadium just has that star quality. It's like MSG. When you show up to New York it's like you show up to Broadway. Everybody wants to put on their best performance here."
Finally, Sabathia has been retired since the end of the 2019 season. He's since("I let myself go when I played," he joked), but that wasn't the subject I was interested in. As our resident Hall of Fame guy at CBS Sports, I know CC will be on the ballot for the 2025 induction. Sometimes in the past when I've asked players about it, they've said they don't think about it or don't have any expectations.
Sabathia has thought about it, he said.
"I thought about it because it would be cool to go in with Ichi," he said of Ichiro Suzuki, who will be on the first ballot the same year. "He will go in first ballot. We were rookies together, so I think it would be cool to have a chance to be rookies the same year and then potentially go into the Hall of Fame the first year.
"It would be something special if I could get in on first ballot and go in with him."
Ichiro will absolutely fly into the Hall with ease in his first try, likely approaching 100 percent of the vote. Sabathia knows he has a tougher road, but he sounded hopeful there was a chance he'd get in with Ichiro.
It'll be interesting to see how it unfolds. Sabathia went 251-161 in his career with over 3,000 strikeouts while winning a Cy Young and World Series. He was the ace of that World Series champion while winning ALCS MVP. This is to say, it seems like he has a good case with the old-school voting bloc. In terms of more new-school voters, Sabathia sits below the Hall of Fame average in WAR and JAWS, though he isn't too far off and sits 55th all-time in starting pitcher JAWS. As a future voter, I can say that I haven't done a really deep dive just yet, but I'm inclined to think he'll get my vote every time he's on the ballot.
Regardless, that's in the future (and the past, kind of!). In the present, Sabathia will be on the Clubhouse broadcast Tuesday night in discussing Ohtani, the Yankees and anything else that comes up. He's a happy-go-lucky dude who isn't shy and will have some good stories. It should be a lot of fun.