St. Louis Cardinals’ 25 year old outfielder, Lars Nootbaar, has swept the nation. In fact, he is sweeping many nations, including Japan, as he is breaking out on Team Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Some are calling him an instant Japanese baseball legend. Only time will tell if his recent breakout is sustainable for the remainder of the World Baseball Classic and into the MLB regular season.
Known for his notorious “pepper grinder” celebration, in which Lars celebrates by twisting both of his fists together (see above photograph of celly), Lars has become a quick internet favorite as Japan is now 2-0 in Pool B of the World Baseball Classic. Through the first two games of the Classic, Lars is batting .500 Avg. (4-8), with 4 Runs, 1 RBI, and a HBP. His teammate, Shohei Ohtani (ever heard of him?) is also showing out for Team Japan. Ohtani is batting .571 Avg. (4-7), with 3 Runs, 3 RBI’s, and a walk. If you have been keeping up to speed on these opening games, you should know that this pair has not only been clutch during the games, but have also developed a newly found friendship between the two of them.
The best part of this bromance is that these two have bought into the Japanese fanbase and have made the “pepper grinder” celebration international now. See Ohtani doing Nootbaar’s celebration after hitting his first bomb of the Classic.
As of right now, Ohtani is a free agent at the end of this year’s season. Does this confirm that Nootbaar is doing the Lord’s work and recruiting Ohtani to the St. Louis Cardinals? Rumors of this have been flying around due to the bond these two have built while preparing for and playing for Team Japan for this year’s Classic. Further, Tommy Edman, the Cardinals’ shortstop/second baseman, can be seen having discussion with Mr. Ohtani during the Japan-Korea game today.
Though this is a fun little rumor for us Cardinals’ fans, I do see it unlikely that the two-way star comes to St. Louis as the Cardinals have a deep depth chart and payroll currently. However, can you imagine trying to pitch to Goldschmidt, Arenado, Wilson Contreras, and Ohtani all in the same lineup? Not to mention the star of this post: NOOOOOOOTBAAR.
Enough about Ohtani — Lars Nootbaar, as already mentioned, is simply a man of the people. His celebrations, energy, and optimism exude to all those around him. CHECK THIS PLAY OUT:
I mean, the guy even does pregame speeches to get the people going.
I am looking forward to the remainder of the World Baseball Classic games and to see just how far Nootbaar and Team Japan make it this year. The internet is rallying around this team because they are simply fun to watch! After beating Korea 13-4 earlier today, Team Japan looks mighty fine heading into their next matchup between the 1-0 Czech Republic team with a roster full of carpenters, dentists, mechanics and other non-baseball professionals. Let’s see if Nootbaar and the rest of the team have what it takes to reign supreme in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. For now, along with the rest of the world, I will sit back and enjoy every moment of this. So, grab your pepper grinders and get to grinding! We have plenty of baseball yet to play — we are just getting started!