ANAHEIM, Calif. — There was a moment in Sunday’s Chicago White Sox–Los Angeles Angels game that would’ve passed as a nondescript subtlety if not for the obvious constraints that have come to define Major League Baseball. It was the start of the third inning. Shohei Ohtani made the final out in the second, a hard lineout to center field, so he quickly retreated to the dugout, dropped off his helmet, picked up his glove and jogged back to the mound. On his way there, he noticed his back pocket was hanging out, so he scrambled to tuck it back in and shoved some of his jersey down into his pants before stepping onto the rubber to begin warming up again.
It felt like Little League.
Throughout the night, as the 26-year-old Ohtani did what hadn’t been done in 118 years, a similar buoyancy pervaded.
The thought of Ohtani pitching and hitting and letting his talent shine through without any needless restrictions triggered a palpable buzz as first pitch approached at Angel Stadium, which hosted 12,396 fans. Then he threw a pitch 101 mph in the top of the first and hit a pitch 115 mph in the bottom of the first, and it felt as if nothing else mattered. Baseball, even on the fourth night of…