While the likes of Keith Olbermann and Chris Russo may consider the World Baseball Classic a “meaningless exhibition” or claim they were “bored stiff,” the tournament was widely watched and wildly enjoyed by many. That was perhaps particularly true for the final between Japan and the United States. And it was maybe most true for the climactic at-bat, where Shohei Ohtani struck out his Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout to give Japan their third WBC title in five events.
One of the people who enjoyed that final showdown was the man calling it, Fox Sports play-by-play voice Joe Davis. Davis told Richard Deitsch of The Athletic it was highly memorable for him:
Calling the World Series stands alone for @Joe_Davis but being the voice of Ohtani v. Trout might be the next thing.
On calling the World Baseball Classic: https://t.co/rHy9n5fBYG
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) March 24, 2023
Here’s more from that piece:
“The World Series stands alone for me, but that specific at-bat might be the next thing,” Davis said. “It’s just one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed. You almost wish you could press pause on the moment and just sit there and really have a chance to soak it in. I think we all know that it was Shohei Ohtani on the mound. We knew that it was Mike Trout in the box and the game was on the line. But to really be able to sit there and reflect on the greatness that we’re watching on the same field, going head to head in that moment, I wish I had a rewind button to get me back there and a pause button to really soak it in.”
…“As you started to hear there was a chance Ohtani was going to pitch in relief in the days leading up to the championship game if Japan got there, then it was like, wouldn’t it be cool if he faced Trout?” Davis said. “You fantasized about that. Not only did he pitch, not only did he face Trout, he faced Trout with two outs in the ninth inning in a one-run game and the count went full. It was just absolutely incredible.
Davis is quite right that the way that played out was something broadcasters fantasize about. The best-on-best matchup at the deciding moment of the final game regularly happens in sports movies, but it’s much rarer to see it in actual sports competitions.
And it’s interesting to hear Davis talk about this in such glowing terms, and to talk about his desire for a real-life rewind and pause button to get back to that climactic Ohtani-Trout moment. That certainly shows he enjoyed his time calling the WBC, and was impressed by the tournament. And it’s notable to hear that amidst the criticisms from the likes of Olbermann and Russo.
[The Athletic; photo of Japan’s celebration from Rhona Wise/USA Today Sports]