Uncovering the Layers: The Enduring Mystery of the Ohtani Scandal


The interpreter got thrown under the bus.

 “He robbed me.“

But will the bus eventually run over Shohei Ohtani?

This whole can of worms results from a statement made by Ohtani on Monday a week ago, which was not subject to questions.

And yes, part of it was that he was just an innocent victim as his interpreter, Ippei Muzahara, ran off with about $4.5 million, give or take a few hundred grand. He didn’t know a thing about it and was “shocked” to find out.

Disbelief and Scrutiny: The Media’s Perspective

Am I buying any of that? Well, I don’t know if that’s as important as the fact that most of the media doesn’t.

In fact, even though I admittedly haven’t done a complete survey, I haven’t found many members of the media who believe the statement as they were told.

Seriously, who WOULD?

The Financial Entanglement and Suspicions of Embezzlement

I could give you more context. But I’m not sure what the context IS.

What did the interpreter say at first – that Ohtani did not do any betting but paid off his debts?

That’s $4.5 million in debts. Ohtani must have acknowledged this over time, no?


Or did something get lost in the translation?

Ohtani said he did not know about Mizuhara’s alleged gambling problems until it was way too late. He did not know about the multi-million dollar addiction of someone who is around him all the time, is reportedly a lifelong friend, and who is paid by the Dodgers.

Don’t lose sight of that – an EMPLOYEE of the Dodgers is a gambling addict and – if we believe all this – an embezzler.

Yes, we’re talking about someone who is constantly around the team, in the locker room, and is betting millions of dollars on sports.

Someone who is in contact with ball players and staff; who hears a lot and sees a lot that the general public doesn’t.

If he was going to bet on sports, wouldn’t it make sense that it was something he was familiar with, something he was close to, something where he had some “inside information“?

That’s just speculation. But then, this whole thing is speculation. If the guy is truly an addict, he’s likely betting on a lot of other stuff. Anything that moves.

If it’s actually HIM.

Let’s take this one tidbit at a time. We are being led to believe that Mizuhara, an interpreter, would have unfettered access and power of attorney, perhaps, over certain accounts belonging to Ohtani, and this was enough for him to run up a tab of $4.5 million before being discovered.

Is that a tale that could really survive scrutiny?

I talked to an agent who, for obvious reasons, wanted to remain anonymous.

He said that agents, for the most part, are on top of what’s going on with their clients. But to an even greater degree, the clients have financial advisors / managers, who know where every penny is going.  And while I agree that once in a while, a player gets into a bad deal, or gets swindled by somebody, it is, more often that not, with some knowledge on the part of such advisors (even if they advise against it).  

But who would, in their right mind, allow $4.5 million to slip through the cracks? It would seem inconceivable that a guy like that wasn’t aware of what Mizuhara was currently being accused of while all of it was in progress.

That statement that we heard from Otani sounded like something that was carefully crafted, deftly designed, and engineered, as if everybody gathered in a room to get their story straight.

Because Otani was speaking through an interpreter, he had the luxury of not having to demonstrate sincerity, if you know what I mean. There’s a barrier of sorts between him and direct contact with his audience in that way.

Imagine the position of his new interpreter, talking with such distain about the old interpreter. That’s kind of surreal when you think about it.

Of course, another possibility is that Otani is making these bets himself and using Mizuhara as his go-between.

The Ohtani Investigation Unfolds

And in that case, we would have to figure out what Ohtani was betting on.

But we won’t know that from any MLB investigation because it is absolutely going to be in baseball‘s interest to sweep this under the rug. The last thing they need is for their biggest international star to be implicated in this kind of scandal in a very direct way.

And that’s one reason why that statement last Monday created as much distance from the problem, and his possible role in it – as was humanly possible.

Yes, MLB would like this to disappear.

But there are two things that are going to prevent that from happening.

One is that the media, by and large, doesn’t believe Ohtani’s statement or the validity of the narrative his people are trying to create. That will keep this alive because they will want to see some answers. And they’ll keep talking about it until they do.

There’s one thing some of them will invariably inquire about, if they’re sharp. If Ohtani is so close to Mizuhara – indeed, we have heard that they have been friends for many years – and discovered this “addiction,” as he seemed to acknowledge in his statement, why is it that he didn’t do what a friend would do and get this guy into treatment, as happens with a lot of people who suffer addictions? Why was he so resolute in turning the guy right over to the authorities (as he stated to the press)?

This doesn’t add up, which leads is into the other thing, which is that there is an active FBI investigation. Among other things, there is the embezzlement accusation. And while the agents may be in the LA area, and may like to watch Ohtani play, beyond that, they personally couldn’t care less about protecting Ohtani, or protecting baseball, at least if they are doing their job properly.

They are already talking to Matthew Bowyer, the bookmaker in question. They’ll talk to Ohtani, for sure, and not through an interpreter of his, but one that is brought along by the FBI themselves.

They’ll talk to Mizuhara and grill him about the process these wagers and the payments went through. They will also question him about how he embezzled the money from Otani.

Unless, of course, he denies he did it.

They’ll talk to the agent, Naz Balelo. They’ll want to know what he was unaware of about the situation. They’ll talk to whatever financial advisor Ohtani has with him at the present time.

They’ll talk to some Dodger teammates. Maybe some of his Angels teammates will be there as well.

And I imagine they would want to have a word with one David Fletcher, currently an infielder in the Atlanta Braves organization, but formerly an Angels teammate of Ohtani, who says he was at a poker game, where Mizuhara met Boyer, the bookmaker.

And that won’t be the end of it.

Here’s what I’D like to know:

  • Did Mizuhara’s debt reach a lump sum of $4.5 million? I seriously doubt that it did. But one never knows.
  • Was Mizuhara gradually paying the losses as they were being incurred? Say, two or 300,000 at a time? If he was, he may have been able to keep playing on credit.

It is unlikely that Bowyer would not have endeavored to find out about Mizuhara’s income. Because you don’t let just anybody get in that deep, without some assurances that the guy is good for it.

In either of the scenarios, no bookmaker worth his salt would have allowed the level of play that could create such a sizable debt without someone’s “OK.“ And that couldn’t have come from anyone else but Ohtani.

Seriously, could it?

The Betting Controversy

I feel like someone may be playing a game of semantics with us.

“I never bet on baseball.”

“I never bet on sports.”

Well, he’s probably right. HE never bet on sports. HE never bet on baseball. But in terms of what the reality is, the truth may be different.

Let me take this opportunity to explain what some people might already realize. And I’ll do it because I grew up around this business, which is to say that my father was a bookmaker. That’s what he did. He operated at a rather high level. And he had some high-profile clients. One of them was an NBA owner. Another was one of the more prominent basketball players in the world at that particular time. There were others.

None of them ever called into the “office” to place a wager. None of them ever collected winnings, or paid off their losses. Everything was done through a representative, a “beard,” if you will.

This procedure is not the slightest bit unusual when one is dealing with a private bookmaker.

So no one should allow themselves to be convinced that Ohtani was NOT a sports bettor, based on his statement in and of itself.

From a literal standpoint, it may not be a lie. But it could be a deception.

And if it turns out to be that way, there will be hell to pay.

On April 6, 2024, in Chicago, Illinois, Shohei Ohtani, the versatile star of the Los Angeles Dodgers, hit a single in the fifth inning in a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Reflections and Ramifications

The “Pete Rose for the Hall of Fame” talk has been energized with this episode. The rationale is that if it is okay to let Ohtani gamble on sports to promote sports betting during televised games, partner with sportsbooks (both on the part of individual teams and MLB as a whole), and even station betting kiosks at ballparks, why is what Rose did still considered grounds for permanent disqualification from baseball?

Rose, who certainly doesn’t mind making a case for himself, has joked that he wished he’d had an interpreter.

The truth is Rose would never do what Ohtani did to Mizuhara. And believe me, he had plenty of chances to throw someone under the bus.

Maybe Ohtani and his representatives don’t quite understand this, but the FBI, in the course of its investigation, is going to be hearing stories from more people than they have anticipated. And if there’s a crack in Ohtain’s own story, that’s going to become known.

So what if Ohtani, when all is said and done, is proven to be a sports bettor but did not bet on baseball? I’m curious to see how Major League Baseball might deal with that if it came to light. Would that become an activity that is less than a violation of their rules?

Maybe MLB officials would be forgiving, but that’s unlikely to be the case with others for different, more visceral reasons.

You see, as we sit here, Shohei Ohtani is holding himself out to be the victim of a crime. When somebody “steals” as much as $4.5 million from someone else, that’s a felony, right?

And you know, it’s a funny thing; if you proclaim victimhood when you have, in fact, victimized another individual, the general public tends to treat something like that very harshly.  

So this thing is far from over. It is far from being predictable. And when the dust clears, you have to wonder whether the Dodgers might find out their $700 million baby isn’t going to be as valuable and marketable as they had initially thought.