top of page

Is Something Sketchy Going On With Shohei Ohtani?

Sebastián Vermut

Shohei Ohtani with interpreter Ippei Mizuhara at an introductory press conference on December 14 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Ohtani is one of the best players in baseball right now. Back in 2018, Shohei Ohtani came over from the Japanese Baseball Leagues to the Los Angeles Angels, marking the beginning of what could become the greatest career of all time. Still learning english, Ohtani brought his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, with him. The two had been friends for years and knew each other very well. However, over the next couple of years, Mizuhara began placing large bets on Southern California bookmaker Mathew Boyer’s account. By early 2023, Mizuhara’s bets had exceeded four million dollars, and, finding himself in a heap of trouble, began asking Ohtani for help paying off his debts. Ohtani’s name appears on two transfers to Mizuhara’s account, both more than one million dollars and under the purpose of a loan. While this may seem like a story of a man with a dangerous gambling addiction, it is actually incredibly illegal: while Mizuhara was addicted, it does not excuse the illegal activities.

 Shohei has been based in California since 2018. California prohibits any kind of sports betting. In addition, the MLB strictly prohibits any player or employee from betting on any sport. Pete Rose, the greatest contact hitter of them all, was banned from baseball for sports betting. These rules are in place to prohibit players from purposely performing badly to make money. Almost all of the 1919 Chicago White Sox were permanently banned because they fixed the World Series to make money off of their bets. Even if Mizuhara was not betting on baseball, his dangerous habits were largely against the stringent betting rules of the MLB. The Los Angeles Dodgers were quick to fire Mizuhara. 

The scandal gets worse: the money used to pay off the bets came directly from Shohei’s bank account. Ohtani wanted to help out his close friend, so he paid off the hefty debts. End of story, right? Mizuhara was fired - the scandal was over. But people are not so sure whether or not Ohtani is innocent. Not all the facts surrounding the bets were released. Some believe that Mizuhara covered for Ohtani, while others believe Ohtani used Mizuhara as a scapegoat. I believe that that is nonsense. Of all the players in baseball, Ohtani has shown the most respect to his opponents, to his management, to his fellow players, and to his fans. One can only keep up an act for so long, and it is safe to say that Ohtani is not acting. Few people like him come around, and accusing him of such blasphemy is simply a way that people who are upset at his greatness try to get back at him - end of story. Shohei’s friend made a mistake, Shohei tried to help out and be a good friend.


bottom of page