Spring Notes: A Scandal Going Into The Season?

I had intended to post two Spring Notes posts today previewing the NL East and AL East until this news broke on Wednesday of Ohtani’s Interpreter being fired by the Dodgers. Those posts will go up over the weekend.

On Wednesday of this week news broke that $4.5 million dollars was wired to a bookie out of Shohei Ohtani’s bank account and the Los Angeles Dodgers fired his interpreter as a result since betting is illegal in California. Let’s forget the fact that it is illegal to bet in California for a second here because it appears that the bets were on MLB games and it is against the rules for an active MLB player or employee, even one on the Injured List, to bet on any MLB game or team.

This is a real bombshell for the Los Angeles Dodgers brand and Major League Baseball. Especially after a winter where there were essentially no major signings following Shohei moving from Anaheim to Los Angeles and with 100+ free agents still available so close to opening day including one being a star pitcher represented by “Super” Agent Scott Boras.

When we compare this to the infamous Pete Rose betting saga there are some big differences. The most notable difference is that while sports betting was not illegal in 1989 according to ESPN he still broke the aforementioned MLB rule which was on the books at the time even though it has been reworded since. As a result, he was immediately banned by the league when the report on the investigation was released and has also been barred from getting into the Hall of Fame as a result.

Now, let’s take a look at the Ohtani saga. According to many reports his interpreter made the bet(s) while in Seoul, South Korea where betting is legal according to Statista. As a result, of him being employed by the Dodgers the bet(s) would therefore still warrant him being fired. Therefore, the money should have been wired from Ohtani’s account to his interpreters account. There does not seem to be a single report that would lead anyone to believe that is what happened. For me that raises the question, “Why is Ohtani giving his interpreter direct access to his bank account?” In other words, it is possible that his bank account was breached by the bookie and his interpreter is taking the blame by saying Ohtani had no knowledge of his gambling debts according to ESPN.

Here’s the thing folks: If, and only if, Ohtani’s interpreter in fact told the truth when he was interviewed this week then this will be swept under the rug and never discussed again. Sadly, as a fan I have to say that I am scared the league will deflect attention away from the Ohtani story by suddenly inducting Rose into the Hall of Fame as a 2024 or 2025 inductee and lifting his life-time ban from the game.

Should my concern be proven to be valid in the coming weeks or months this makes me say that all the big name players who juiced in the ’90s before a stop was put to that should also be admitted into the Hall of Fame whether or not Rose is in fact inducted. However, if the opposite is true and Ohtani was the one masking the bets while in California then his contract should be immediately null and voice and he should be banned from the game for life.

With that… it is time to watch as this story unfolds.

If you cannot play with them, then root for them.

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