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The Sports Report: What would Babe Ruth think about Shohei Ohtani? Ask his great-grandson

Shohei Ohtani hits during the home run derby.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Jack Harris on Shohei Ohtani: Most people don’t know much about their great-grandparents.

Then again, most people aren’t Babe Ruth’s great-grandson.

Brent Stevens never met Ruth, born years after his famous forebearer died. But, Stevens has heard enough family stories, talked to enough older relatives and learned enough of his personal history to have a good sense of what his great (bambino) grandpa was like.

And this year, it gives Stevens unique insight into one of baseball’s more compelling questions.

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What would Ruth think of Shohei Ohtani’s historic two-way season this year?

Shohei Ohtani hits during the home run derby.
Shohei Ohtani hits during the home run derby.
(Associated Press)

“I think he would be absolutely behind Ohtani,” Stevens said. “As am I.”

Like other fans of the sport, Stevens has watched Ohtani’s start to the campaign with the Angels in astonishment, equally impressed by the left-handed slugger’s prodigious power at the plate, where he leads the majors with 33 home runs, as with his production as a starting pitcher, where he has a 3.49 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 13 starts.

It’s the kind of thing that has rarely been attempted — let alone so dominantly mastered — since the early part of Ruth’s prime more than 100 years ago.

“I really hope as the season progresses,” Stevens said, “we look back on this season as something extremely impressive and incredibly rare that we should celebrate in the annals of baseball history.”

————

Shohei Ohtani falls to Juan Soto in Home Run Derby after tiebreaker swing-off

Shohei Ohtani will be the starting pitcher for the American League in All-Star game

Beyond sobbing girls and screaming homers, Angels see another side of Shohei Ohtani

Stephen A. Smith apologizes for comments about Shohei Ohtani

From Shohei Ohtani to Naomi Osaka, Japanese athletes dominate during golden era

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UCLA MEN’S BASKETBALL

Ben Bolch on the Bruins: UCLA sits No. 1 or No. 2 in scores of (admittedly premature) preseason rankings and likely will be a fashionable pick to win the national championship once the 2022 NCAA tournament bracket is released.

Here are 12 reasons the Bruins could raise banner No. 12 in April:

1. Their postseason protagonist is back

Heeeeere’s Johnny … the sequel.

Heavily fortified by its three newcomers and a roster that returns almost intact, UCLA won’t need Johnny Juzang to average 22.8 points like he did during that unexpected run to the Final Four. But it’s nice to know that the junior shooting guard can unleash that kind of scoring burst whenever it’s required.

Juzang returned to bolster his NBA prospects and leave a lasting legacy, and just like he does every time he steps to the free-throw line, he’s primed to go two for two.

2. Their rim protector is here

Lots of shots figure to meet an untimely demise in the hands of Myles Johnson.

The graduate transfer from Rutgers ranked second in the Big Ten Conference last season with 2.4 blocks per game and will give the Bruins the interior defensive presence they were missing once Jalen Hill left the team in February because of anxiety and depression.

An engineering savant who is completing a summer internship at IBM, Johnson is one of the smartest guys on campus who happens to be intensely likeable. If the 6-foot-11 center can improve his conditioning and free-throw accuracy (39.7% in three seasons with the Scarlet Knights), he might blossom into an All-Pac-12 player.

To read the other 10 reasons, click here.

BASKETBALL

These games don’t count. Right now, that is the only saving grace for USA Basketball.

And for quite probably the first time in 29 years of NBA players suiting up for the national team, they heard boos when a game ended — on home soil, no less.

Patty Mills scored 22 points and Australia held the U.S. without a field goal for the final 4:34 on the way to beating the Americans 91-83 on Monday night, dropping the three-time defending Olympic gold medalists to 0-2 in their five-game slate of exhibitions leading up to the Tokyo Games.

Joe Ingles scored 17 points, Matisse Thybulle scored 12 and Chris Goulding had 11 for Australia.

Damian Lillard led the U.S. with 22 points, while Kevin Durant scored 17 and Bradley Beal finished with 12. But the Americans wasted a 10-point second-half lead, and have dropped back-to-back games for just the third time since NBA players began wearing the red, white and blue in 1992.

NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

All times Pacific

NBA FINALS

Phoenix vs. Milwaukee
Phoenix 118, Milwaukee 105
Phoenix 118, Milwaukee 108
Milwaukee 120, Phoenix 100
Wednesday: at Milwaukee, 6 p.m., ABC
Saturday: at Phoenix, 6 p.m., ABC
*Tuesday, July 20: at Milwaukee, 6 p.m., ABC
*Thursday, July 22: at Phoenix, 6 p.m., ABC

*-if necessary

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1881 — William Renshaw sets the record for the shortest men’s championship match by time and games by beating John T. Hartley 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 in 37 minutes at Wimbledon.

1941 — The PGA tournament is won by Vic Ghezzi with a 1-up 38-hole victory over Byron Nelson. at Cherry Hills CC Denver

1943 — The first night game in All-Star history is played at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park. Boston’s Bobby Doerr provides the big blow, a three-run homer, for the AL’s 5-3 win.

1968 — Gary Player wins the British Open by two strokes over Bob Charles and Jack Nicklaus. It’s the second Open championship for Player and his fifth major title.

1971 — Reggie Jackson hits a mammoth home run off the power generator on the right-field roof at Tiger Stadium to highlight a barrage of six homers — three by each team — as the AL beats the NL 6-4 in the All-Star game.

1972 — Robert Irsay buys the stock of the Los Angeles Rams for $19 million and swaps the franchise for the Baltimore Colts. The players and coaches are not affected.

1980 — Amy Alcott shoots a record score of 280 to win the U.S. Women’s Open by nine strokes over Hollis Stacy.

1996 — Cigar matches Citation’s modern North American record of 16 consecutive wins, pulling away to take the $1.05 million Arlington Citation Challenge by 3½ lengths.

1997 — Alison Nicholas holds off Nancy Lopez for a one-stroke victory in the U.S. Women’s Open. Nicholas shoots a 72-hole total of 10-under 274, the most under par in the 52-year history of the event.

2003 — Beth Daniel becomes the oldest winner in LPGA Tour history, birdying the final two holes to beat Juli Inkster by a stroke in the Canadian Women’s Open. At 46 years, 8 months and 29 days, Daniel breaks the age record set by JoAnne Carner in 1985.

2011 — Abby Wambach breaks a tense tie with a thunderous header in the 79th minute, and the United States earns its first trip to the Women’s World Cup final since winning it in 1999 with a 3-1 victory over France. Japan upsets Sweden 3-1 in the other semifinal.

2014 — Mo Martin hits the best shot of her life to become a major champion in the Women’s British Open. Martin hit a 3-wood that hit the pin on the par-5 closing hole at Royal Birkdale, settling 6 feet for an eagle. Martin closes with an even-par 72 and finishes at 1-under 287 for a one-shot win over Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng.

2014 — Mario Goetze volleys in the winning goal in extra time to give Germany its fourth World Cup title with a 1-0 victory over Argentina.

2017 — Venus Williams reaches her ninth Wimbledon final and first since 2009, turning in her latest display of gutsy serving to beat Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2. At 37, Williams becomes the oldest finalist at the All England Club since Martina Navratilova was the 1994 runner-up at that age. She also stops Konta’s bid to become the first woman from Britain in 40 years to win Wimbledon. In the opening semifinal, Garbine Muguruza overwhelms Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1 in just over an hour.

And finally

Reggie Jackson hits a mammoth blast at the 1971 All-Star game. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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