Why Shouldn't We Root for Ohtani?
Question posed, question addressed.

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? :)



Well done, sort of a bravura effort.  Superb.

But I will root for him, despite agreeing with you on the phoniness of the process.  He was pretty sure where he was going way ahead of the actual press release.

I will root for him for the same reason I root for Pat Venditte, he's trying to do something that goes against the dominant paradigm (a word I hate, btw).

I want to see him succeed on both hitting/pitching fronts (despite what it may mean to the Angels' fortunes), because nobody has done it in so long.  Simple enough.  it's funny, I root against the Angels but absolutely root for Mike Trout and now Ohtani.  Danged if I ain't conflicted!  Hate the team, love the guys.

Loved the thread, too.  Bonus Points to Matty.


...I totally get that it's cool that he's fighting against the tide and doing it convincingly...could be igniting a revolution!...I'd normally be right there with you. :)


In AA yesterday:  Andrew Moore with 5.2 innings, 2 hits, 1 run (HR), 1 BB, 7 K's.  RHB's were 0-10 with 5 K's.


If so...ouchy.

And...even if that's AAA, the homer problem continues. Until it doesn't, he's useless up here.


Maybe you can keep us posted on the Cheney Cuartet.  :- )


AA for some reason, Art Warren, too.  

As noted before,  Moore's fastball was a Plus pitch last season.  7.1 runs above average, in fact.  But his slider (-3.1), Curve (-3.7) and Change-up (-2.1)were duds.

Yet he threw the fastball only 52% of the time.  He was throwing - pitches nearly as often as his + fastball.  There was a pitch calling problem last season.  I suspect he's in AA to work on the Change, but when he gets the call up, whoever catches him simply calling for the fastball a bunch more would do wonders.  His FB averages 91 MPH, he isn't quite lobbing the ball up there.

Greg Maddux threw his 85 MPH FB 69% of the time.  That's what I want to see out of Moore.  70% FB.


I don't at all like the way Ohtani handled things. To me it came across as arrogant and callously indifferent to the teams that worked hard to put together just the right pitch, in the case of the Mariners seriously rework their assets, travel all the way to LA, only to be told never mind. On that I agree.

I approach things a little differently with regard my motivations for rooting against Ohtani. I root against him because he's a key player for a division rival. I don't wish him harm, just a lack of success, a lack so pronounced that it contributes to the Angels finishing behind the Mariners. 

As a man, I root for him to let go of whatever impulses drove him to his arrogant behavior. 

As a historic MLB player, I root for uniquely talented players to come along, because they are a huge part of what makes the sport so compelling.


Yet and still I dislike intensely Mr Trout, Ohtani et al Anaheim whatevers.  Ironically,  I intently follow their endeavors hoping they succeed against everyone but us.  It's a condition of mine as a fan of the game i've learned to accept about myself,  no matter how psychotic it may appear to others.  No ill-will intended, I dislike many of our competitors while simultaneously fascinating at their individual accomplishments.  Such is life in the AL West and MLB, in general.   I love this game.


The fact that they have Trout and now PlanetBuster-San, it makes me realize how I feel about the pesky rodent Angels.  I'm completely neutral about Texas, Oakland, or Houston doing well - provokes no feelings at all.  LAA winning makes me kinda sick.  :- )  Am glad at my age that baseball still makes me feel something!  +1 Native


Greg Johns reported that Healy arrived in clubhouse today in walking boot and on crutches.  Twisted ankle in postgame workout yesterday.  Out for KC series, likely.  MRI upcoming.

Cruz not expected to return until Friday.  Zunino not even close, may be deactivated (B-R) before Friday. Gamel not a 1B, but getting close to return.  It will be interesting to see if we 10-Day Healy and, if so, who gets the call.  Matt Hague has both the Tacoma starts at 1B, but no hits.  Cam Perkins has two hits, is a RHB, and has a very small bit of 1B experience.  Nieuwenhuis had 6 games at 1B last season at AAA, but is a lefty bat.

Or we just ride Motter as the BU 2B and bring up a utility guy like Beckham or Muno.  

Sure am glad our new injury prevention regime is working so well.


It's always welcome for the Denizens to fire up a discussion thread of their own.  +1

For my part, I was more curious as to why a person living in Japan (IceX, Taro) wouldn't be rooting for an NPB star to come over and kick tail in MLB  -- obviously it adds honor to Japanese baseball when they do so.  Fairly easy to get why he'd have fans and detractors here.  Well stated post, though.


Personally I found it refreshing that Ohtani was willing to give up $250-300MM (?) to "partner" with an MLB team that will give him respect in place of a (literal) pallet of cash.  But can understand other POV's.

Taro's picture

Unprecedented. While I was aware of the talent and what he did in the NPB, to see him transition so quickly is awe inspiring to watch.

Hitting-wise he will go through some strikeout slumps just like guys like Stanton & Harper early on, but the talent is absolutely absurd.

He has a Bryce Harper esque swing at the plate and throws as hard Noah Syndergaard, with the best splitter in the game. I have literally never seen anything like this. 

If you are watching Mariner games instead of this, I have to ask you.. why?


It's 7-8 for him as a Cy Young winner, maybe 1+ ERA.  As a hitter it's tough to rack up WAR as a DH, so maybe 2-3.  That's 10+ WAR which is why GM's were falling all over themselves and responding deferentially to the applications he handed them.

As a fan it's depressing because when Pedro was in his prime, you just put a red X on the calendar, that game being a loss.

I agree with you; the splitter is better than Sasaki at his best, and then the fastball hits 100 MPH, often located.  If he executes he's impossible to hit.

IceX says his control can come and go.  I hope so.  Quite a bummer for M's fans.


In the other cubicle we were talking about 70's, 80's comps LOL.  Nolan Ryan hit 101-104 in today's terms and his curve ball was as nasty as the splitter we just saw.

People found ways to beat Ryan.  Let's hope the same is true of Ohtani, that he's prime Nolan Ryan instead of the cheat code that we proclaimed him at SSI.

Taro's picture

Nolan Ryan as a downside scenario is kinda crazy. Combined with MOTO hitter. :-)

This has never happened before.

I was bummed about it in the offseason when the Ms whiffed on Ohtani, but I find myself able to enjoy watching him while being detached to the results.

There has been a shift in me the past couple years (especially last year) where I find myself less attached to the wins and losses of the team. I still want the Mariners to win and have a bias, but it doesn't really matter to me that much at my core. One team will win and the others will lose. 1 team will be WS champs and all others will lose. Its inevitable. On some level I was happy for the Astros winning it all last year. I was happy that their fans would enjoy a WS win for the first time. I was happy for the players. What difference is there in them enjoying it versus us? It matters less to me which team wins or losses and I'm more able to enjoy the game for what it is.

Ohtani arriving at the time he did is perfect, 2 years ago I would have been an angry Ms fan. Today, I can enjoy him for what he is. :-)


I'm hoping desperately that Ohtani is nothing more than a BETTER Nolan Ryan.  I doubt that will happen, but IceX tells us that Ohtani has some volatility to him, and that his hitting can sometimes affect his pitching.

Slap me silly, that videotape made this M's fan sick to his stomach.


...but will give a nod to Kershaw , including him in the Unit and Pedro discussion.

If you throw 98 and then put that 87 MPH dive ball somewhere over the plate, what the heck is a hitter to do?

He's special.  Babe Ruth type special.


I was gonna write on the weekend, but it's Monday now.

Anyways, for me, I don't really *care* once we get to the celebrity/athlete point of the gamut of humans I will never meet.
It's not that they owe me anything (they don't), but it's that I can choose who I like/dislike or cheer/boo.
I don't give it much thought to my dislike because my decision only changes what I buy (no Ohtani Mariners t-shirts for me) and not their salary.

But Ohtani did put me off by putting on a show and then honestly not seeming to deliberate over the choices that were on the table (like Matt says).
The show was clearly for show, despite his Japanese persona of being a young baseball kid blah blah blah nope.
And the fact that he didn't give any of the other cities a fair shake makes me wonder how the teams will approach the system in the future.
Maybe the M's should have insisted in flying him out to Seattle. Who knows.

The other part that bothers me is more practical.
I'm facing the onslaught of Angels news and I can't really handle that at 6AM.
And Japanese media darlings are notoriously grating here.
It's like getting your TV stuck on YES no matter what, except it's Ohtani All. The. Time.
The only saving grace is that he's not an icon like Ichiro nor a beloved player like Godzilla.

Ohtani is a heck of a talent, but I could have done without the showboating and the in-your-face media here.


Thanks IceX.  

Yes, when you put it that way, it puts me off Ohtani some too.  The dog-and-pony show was over the top and completely unnecessary once you realize it was always the Angels.  I guess he was putting his employer on notice before they started, or something.

Obviously I have no idea what the Japanese TV is like but that gets to me too, when you turn on a Cavs game and everything LeBron does is magical.  Yuck :- P

Taro's picture

I think we're projecting things on Ohtani that may or may not be true, most likely not. I can relate as I went through the burn and realized the magnitude of the decision Ohtani made during the offseason, but it seems a bit silly to demonize him for the decision. 

Baseball is cyclical. The Mariners' time will come again eventually (maybe even this year if everything pans out).



I don't think anyone is demonizing Ohtani for his decision to sign with the Los Angeles Angeles (spelling intentional).. It's the completely unnecessary way that he literally abused other suitors while making that choice. I'm still waiting for anyone to lay out a plausible case for the appropriateness of any term other than abuse for what he did.

Somebody mentioned a similarity to the way Alex Rodriguez acted towards the Mariners. I guess so, the way a an old-fashioned Sunday drive is similar to a two week driving vacation.

Oh well, sometimes you're the dumper, and sometimes you're the dumpee. What goes around comes around, unless, it seems, you are the Seattle Mariners.

Hey, we get to play against Royalty tonight. I've enjoyed the daytime start times and CST locales so far that allow me to watch the games at a reasonable hour here in Spurs-land. 


Was going to ask why you use the word "abuse" and then you pointed out the ARod comp.  That puts it in a way I can unnerstan' it.  Heh.  ... And, yes, if I were to get to brooding about how this pitcher could be an M, I could get pretty annoyed.

Glad that in Spurs-land, you're able to follow the M's and still able to find some enjoyment from them!  Surprised by that?

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