February 23, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Shohei Ohtani’s wild week of free agency recap

Shohei Ohtani’s wild week of free agency recap
Shohei Ohtani’s wild week of free agency recap

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For everyone hoping to discover Otani. https://t.co/TzhN5dVhO6 pic.twitter.com/STsgK0wp1a

– Rich Eisen (@richeisen) December 8, 2023

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2:45 AM UTC

No matter where he signs, no matter when he signs, no matter what his new contract entails, Shohei Ohtani will have already succeeded in one thing:

Driving each of us bananas.

We, the baseball-loving community, are somewhere south of the mind, and we were flown here by a private plane that may or may not have been used by Shohei Ohtani.

Things got really weird this week at the Winter Meetings, and then reached what we can only hope is the pinnacle of silliness on Friday, when the platform formerly known as Twitter got even wackier than usual due to wildly conflicting reports about Ohtani’s whereabouts and his proximity to the inking . an agreement.

So let’s recap a week of Ohtani news that was kind of wild… even though almost nothing happened.

It was a relatively quiet time in the Shuhei scene.

Aside from some speculation that he might sign within a week and a report that he had already received bids worth up to half a billion dollars (no big deal), we were still in those golden days when the biggest controversy surrounding Ohtani was his agency’s unwillingness (or was that Inability?) to reveal key details about the sweet little dog that the two-time champion cradled in his surgically repaired right arm during his American League MVP announcement last month.

We stayed in the dark dog house, being chased by the mysterious dog. what is her name? What is his breed? Was he really Ohtani’s dog, or was he a support pup?

These were certainly the most pressing questions at the start of the Winter Meetings, where the entire baseball industry would be brought together under one roof.

All was quiet, and all was bright, until around 3:30 PM local time in Nashville, Tennessee, when Blue Jays reporters received word that Toronto general manager Ross Atkins would instead hold an in-person media presence. On zoom. Cue that dramatic thriller music:

Our minds quickly went haywire: Either Atkins had developed the same gastrointestinal issue that upended the general managers’ meetings a month earlier, or something was up with Ohtani. When Atkins appeared on the Zoom screen, he was in front of a blank white wall. Questions about its location have been eliminated.

“Due to a scheduling conflict, I was able to participate in this call, and I am grateful for your accommodation of being here with me today,” Atkins said.

Ah, but subsequent flight tracking by Internet sleuths (the kind of people who can tell you where Taylor Swift is at this very moment, at any given moment) found two private planes that left Clearwater, Florida, on Monday night — one bound for Anaheim, the other bound for Nashville. . Reliable reports He noted that Atkins wasn’t in Nashville because none other than Ohtani was seen around the Blue Jays’ state-of-the-art spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida.

It was 2 p.m. in Nashville when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sat down for the scheduled winter media briefings, and at about 2:01 when he was pressed to the extreme with this bold, cutting question:

“Can you say you met with Shuhei?”

Roberts whimpered and growled for exactly four seconds before coming clean:

“Yes, we met him.”

If this had been an old-fashioned courtroom drama, all the reporters would have been rushing to the nearest payphones to let their editors know they had the story of the century. But since it’s 2023, we sat there in our seats and posted the reveal on social media while Roberts continued to give us the goods.

Roberts revealed that the Dodgers met with Ohtani at Dodger Stadium a few days ago for a few hours.

“It was a pleasure to spend time with him,” Roberts said.

Roberts later added: “Shuhei is obviously our top priority.”

The courage of this man is to let reporters know that the team that everyone in the industry expects to sign Ohtani actually has interest in Ohtani. How interested?

It wasn’t long until the GM’s scheduled availability came. Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomez said he was “surprised” by Roberts’ admission but would not confirm…what his manager had just confirmed. No one can be sure if Roberts negatively affected the Dodgers’ playing for Ohtani or perhaps “Shaw” showed strength.

Cubs president Jed Hoyer, meanwhile, seemed particularly unhappy with the report that his club’s optimism about Ohtani had been “significantly diminished.”

“I don’t know where that came from,” Hoyer said.

Nothing really happened, honestly. Ohtani was not selected in the Rule 5 draft.

Well, nothing really happened that day either. Ohtani was not involved in the Juan Soto trade.

Will this be Ohtani’s announcement day?

Will he head to Canada to invade a third country?

Will he sign a deal with the Dodgers and get Roberts off the hook?

Will he say “Hello” again to the angels?

Will the mystery team swoop in to sign this mystery man?

We might have gotten through the day out of our wits if the plane had not left John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, at 9:40 a.m. Pacific time, bound for Toronto Pearson International Airport. It was a 3-hour, 50-minute trip from point A to point B, and yet, with every mile of the 2,157 miles tracked by Ohtani’s insatiable chatter, it seemed like an eternity.

It seems certain, it seems, that when the Bombardier Global 5000 lands, we’ll be bombarded with an Ohtani announcement, an official end to this signature saga. The Blue Jays will be heralded near and far as they are reeling in the biggest star in the sport, the AL East will add another superstar, and Toronto-born rapper Drake will be rewarded for his investment in an Ohtani All-Star jersey.

But when flight N616RH finally touched down in Toronto, do you know who got out?

It was not Ohtani’s translator, Ibe Mizuhara.

It was not Ohtani’s agent, Nez Palillo.

Ohtani’s dog was not whatever his name was.

He was reportedly Canadian businessman Robert Herjavec, founder of an internet security software company, book writer and television personality on multiple shows, including ABC’s Shark Tank.

And so, as reports that Ohtani was close to a deal were met with less dramatic – and seemingly more accurate – reports that he had not yet made up his mind, it was revealed that Ohtani is not crossing the continent in a private plane, but instead, As we were relaxing at home on Friday (as the rest of us should have been), those clamoring for information on all things Ohtani were left not with new answers, but a new and compelling question:

Will the Blue Jays sign Robert Herjavec to be their DH?!?