Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani

Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani will grace the cover of Sony’s MLB the Show 22 video game following his historic 2021 season. Ohtani made history in the process, becoming the first Asian athlete to be featured on the cover of a video game in the United States centered around the four major sports.

Ohtani also became the first member of the Angels to be featured on the cover of of MLB: The Show.

“I was very excited about the possibility and it actually came true,” Ohtani told ESPN through an interpreter. “This game has a lot of history. It’s one of the only baseball games that has been out here, so it makes me want to get better on the field and live up to the hype.”

Ohtani’s 2021 season was formally recognized as “historically significant” when he received the commissioner’s rare Historic Achievement Award this offseason, becoming the first two-way player in MLB history with more than 10 homers, 20 stolen bases while recording 100 strikeouts and more than 10 pitching appearances. Ohtani also earned the MVP award, becoming the first player in league history to be an All-Star as both a pitcher and a hitter, finishing the season hitting .257/.372/.592 with 46 homers, 100 RBIs and 4.9 bWAR as a hitter while tallying a 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 156 strikeouts in 130⅓ innings, a 9-2 record and a 4.1 bWAR as a pitcher.

Ohtani, 27, says he hopes that his presence on the cover helps bring fans to the sport.

“There’s a few type of fans,” Ohtani said. “I’m sure there are fans that love to play the video game, but don’t actually watch the game. Then the opposite, people that watch the game but don’t play the video game. I’m trying to bring back the popularity and set an example for those watching the game. Sony and San Diego Studios, they’re going the other route by making a video game trying to get the game popular that way. It’s a good combination, trying to bring the popularity back as a whole.”

Ohtani said he was “honored” to be the first Asian athlete on the cover of The Show.

“I know I’m sure there’s a lot of Asian people that don’t know me yet,” Ohtani said. “Hopefully by being on the cover of The Show, you get my name out there to those people who don’t know me yet.”

Cover stars of MLB The Show have included Miguel Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, Adrian Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Ken Griffey Jr., Ryan Howard, Aaron Judge, Joe Mauer, Andrew McCutchen, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Yasiel Puig, David Wright, Javier Báez and Fernando Tatis Jr.

MLB lockout? MLB Players Association responded by declining the request

With the MLB lockout started by owners on Dec. 2 now in its third month, Major League Baseball requested the help of federal mediation Thursday, which would have potentially inserted a neutral third party in negotiations. The MLB Players Association responded by declining the request, stating that “the clearest path to a fair and timely agreement is to get back to the table.”

Where does the attempt at mediation leave negotiations? Could this create even more hostility between the two sides? And what does it all mean for the big question: When will we actually see Major League Baseball players on the field? We enlisted ESPN MLB experts Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers to sort it all out.

A mediator is a neutral third party whose goal is to help two sides in a labor dispute reach common ground on issues that are preventing a deal being reached. The FMCS is the governmental arm that can help manage labor disputes like MLB’s lockout, but necessitates both parties agree to mediation. A mediator’s job is not to negotiate a deal or impose any specific conditions. Mediators are not arbitrators, who hear each side of an argument and deliver a ruling. The most effective mediation helps guide two parties to places they have not been able to get themselves.

Has this happened before?

It happens quite often in labor disputes. MLB used a mediator during its 1981 and 1994 strikes. In 1981, the mediator, Ken Moffett, worked with both parties during the 50-day strike — and wound up being named executive director of the MLB Players Association before being fired less than a year later. During the 1994 strike that wiped out the World Series, mediator Bill Usery was unsuccessful in bringing the parties to a resolution.

For all of the times a mediator hasn’t led to an agreement — before the 2011 NFL lockout, 16 days’ worth of mediation wound up with the union disbanding and the players suing the league in federal court; later in the same year, three days of mediation in NBA talks did little to change an impasse — there have been successes. After FCMS mediator Scot Beckenbaugh worked with the NHL in 2013, owners and players praised him publicly for his work. Beckenbaugh, who remains in a high-profile position at the FCMS, could serve as the mediator if the sides ever enter the process.

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