I never imagined I would wade into the waters of Doc's self-crafted "Konspiracy Korner" posting style. I'm more of a 'what is demonstrated to be' than a 'what might be' kind of guy and rarely take much of an interest in debates centered around unknowable things.
But, today, I will depart from my normal tendencies and suggest a conspiracy that I, personally and very passionately, believe is true.
This is in response to a great question Doc posed in our slack chat yesterday. He wanted to know why we wouldn't root for Shohei Ohtani?
On one level, I agree with him - an important level at that. I try very hard not to root against anyone simply because I dislike them. It's not the way I was raised, but I fail at this often enough to spend a large chunk of my time in confession explaining how I failed at it this week. It applies to Ohtani. I'm about to make the argument that he's a manipulative, opportunistic egotist who arranged the entire dog and pony show around his signing to set up his big-money contract when he does hit free agency and to begin his time in the states with as much media exposure as possible. So, clearly, I don't much care for Mr. Ohtani. That is my (openly stated) personal bias. I will, right up front, say that what I'm about to claim cannot be proven and should not be taken as my attempt to put forward a falsifiable hypothesis as a logical theorem. It's an opinion. It's based on some known factors and some intuition, and you're free to disagree with me...I won't mind, I promise. The point, here, though, is that I know I shouldn't wish ill will on anyone. I won't be saying prayers that his arm explodes...I just...don't like him and won't root FOR him.
There's another place where I agree with Doc. The concept of Ohtani - a true two-way superstar who paves the way for a new type of baseball player that tries to do it all and a new way of building a roster. Or, rather, an old way that we've forgotten about. After all, when we first invented this game, the pitchers often had other positions they played when they couldn't pitch. :) It's very exciting to have something truly new enter the repetitive world of baseball and shake it up. So, in theory, I should be rooting for Ohtani to succeed as a two-way player even on a rival club because I want to see more like him.
I will also reject one reason to dislike Ohtani or decline to root for him, at least for myself. I'm not rooting against him because he chose a rival team and not my team, or even because my team gave up a ton to try to bring him to Seattle and it cost them dearly. Those things frustrate me, sure, but, as tribal as I am about sports, I could get past it in time. If that's your reason for declining to support Ohtani, I totally understand (and have at it...that's what sports are for!).
I dislike and will never root for Ohtani because I believe he is a media-seeking missile every bit as phony and self-centered as Alex Rodriguez.
It is possible that I'm misunderstanding something about Japanese culture, so, if I am, I'm willing to listen, but this is how it looks to me.
When Ohtani decided that he wanted to come to America, I believe he selected the Los Angeles Angels (or at least Los Angeles generally) as his destination. Like...years ago. I think the entire process of negotiating to sign him was a sham. I'm not alone. The Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, and perhaps others I missed all stated, on the record, that they felt used by Ohtani's camp. These are teams that were eliminated almost immediately from the sweepstakes even though his agent asked them all to submit groveling pitches. You'll never convince me that Ohtani and his people sat down two days after he officially cleared MLB's hurdles and became a free agent and, only then, Ohtani said, "Nyeh...I really don't want to go to the East Coast...or most anywhere except the west coast..." Why did they ask all thirty teams to submit if Ohtani was so clear on his desire to play out west?
Once he narrowed down thirty teams to seven (and the eliminated parties grumbled loudly that they were unhappy with his treatment of them), he flew to the US to hear out his suitors.
Scratch that...he flew to Los Angeles. To tour Angels Stadium, chat with those guys for several hours, and then hold perfunctory two-hour pitch sessions with the other six clubs.
He showed no interest in checking out Safeco Field, Wrigley, Rangers' Stadium...nope. He toured Angels' Stadium early in the process and then, in his mercy, allowed six other clubs grovel at his feet and gave each of them the impression that they were in the running.
The Mariners, in particular, took their meeting with Ohtani very seriously and came at him full guns blazing. They acquired all the prospect money, their farm system irrelevant in the chase, they had multiple conversations with his agency, they worked their tails off, convinced that they had a real chance to sign Ohtani.
And they never ever did. I don't believe they did, at any rate. He picked LA early on. He flew to LA to do the chats, toured their park, and told no one else that they probably shouldn't, oh, I don't know, sell a top relief prospect, a top SP prospect, and a few other goodies to acquire more money thinking it would help. In so doing, he seriously and permanently harmed the Seattle Mariners in particular.
That's my club. And I've been treated this way before. By Alex Rodriguez. Remember how he assured us he wanted to stay in Seattle and play for a winner? Remember how we built a winner around him and made him two serious offers and his people told us we were under consideration, and then he signed with the Rangers - a perennial failure with no serious hopes of contending?
People say it was about the money, and, to a certain extent, it was, in his case. But that's not the main factor. What Alex Rodriguez wanted, was media stardom.
Ohtani couldn't get any real money thanks to a ludicrous, exploitative system MLB has established to harm young, talented foreigners at the behest of wealthy franchise owners in the name of "competitive balance"...so he settled for media fame. He arrnaged a month-long magical mystery tour and kept as many people involved as he rationally could at all times, all while already picturing himself in Angels red standing next to Mike Trout in the next five major endorsement contracts (the real money). LA was his best media market and he went straight to it. To pretend to hold meetings with five other non-LA clubs.
I don't like phonies. I believe Ohtani is a phony. Ergo, I will not root for Shohei Ohtani.
Any questions? :)