Dark Side of Baseball: The Shocking Truth Behind the Ohtani Scandal

Darren - April 2, 2024

Dark Side of Baseball: The Shocking Truth Behind the Ohtani Scandal

Darren - April 2, 2024

Shohei Ohtani is the biggest superstar in baseball right now. But he’s also at the center of a shady scandal that threatens to rock MLB to its core. An ESPN and L.A. Times investigation uncovered links between Ohtani’s translater Ippei Mizuhara and an illegal gambling syndicate.

Allegedly, Mizuhara used $4.5 million of Ohtani’s money to pay gambling debts. Now the FBI and MLB are investigating to find the truth. Is Ohtani an innocent bystander in this sketchy tale or did he order Mizuhara to place bets on his behalf? This is a wild story that’s still developing. Let’s look at the information currently available in detail now.

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The Colombian

Gambling Debts

This shady story starts with an ESPN and L.A. Times investigation into an illegal bookmaking operation. Ohtani’s name came up but then his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara took the fall. He told ESPN Investigative Journalist Tisha Thompson that Ohtani didn’t place any bets and knew nothing.

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Thompson revealed (via Michigan Public): “He basically said that it was his gambling debt and that when he got too far in a hole — we have multiple sources telling us it’s at least $4.5 million — he went to Ohtani, who told him he wasn’t happy about the gambling debts, but he had decided to pay it off.”

L.A. Times

Covering For A Friend

The early narrative was that Ohtani was covering for a friend. It’s well known that he has had a close relationship with the Japanese-born Mizuhara since 2013. The pair met when they were both members of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan’s Pacific League.


Then the Angels hired Mizuhara as Ohtani’s interpreter when he moved to L.A. He even temporarily quit his job with the Angels during the recent lockout to bypass MLB rules so he could continue working with Ohtani. These two men know each other very well (via Audacy).

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The Athletic

Wire Transfers

One of the weirdest parts of this is that they sent money via wire transfers. Let’s be real, Mizuhara and the alleged ringleader Matthew Boyer knew that they were engaging in an illegal practice in California. Nonetheless, they were dumb enough to do their dirty deeds in the most traceable way possible (via

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L.A Times

It’s no wonder that a bunch of agencies are investigating them now. Yes, maybe it’s difficult to withdraw four million dollars in cash but it was stupid. This remains one of the most confusing aspects of this shady scandal.

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L.A. Times

Gambling Addiction

Mizuhara says that he has a gambling addiction and this caused him to accumulate a debt of over four million dollars. It’s a wild amount of money and it’s crazy that somehow Ohtani’s accountants didn’t notice its disappearance. However, it does expose hypocrisy in the wider sports industry.


Most leagues ban players and coaches from gambling because they have an insider’s view on games and dealings. Nonetheless, they sign deals with gambling partners and market gaming websites. It’s impossible to escape it and that’s why it’s very tempting for people to break the rules (via Time).

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L.A. Times

Massive Theft

The weirdest aspect of this shady story is the evolving nature of it. First, Mizuhara claimed that Ohtani gave him the money to pay off debts. But now the story is that the high-flying interpreter took the money without Ohtani’s knowledge. That’s the story and the two-time MVP’s lawyers are sticking to it.


A spokesperson for Berk Brettler Law Firm said: “In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities.” They are desperate to get Ohtani as far away from this scandal as possible (via CBS Sports).

El Pais

A Willing Scapegoat

Surprisingly, Mizuhara is so willing to take the fall for this incident. This is confusing many people because it doesn’t seem like he has anything to gain. He was in Korea with the Dodgers when the story broke. Nobody would have been surprised if he vanished into the night.

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Times Colonist

Instead, he’s making it clear that Ohtani didn’t do anything wrong and it was all him. This is despite the Dodgers firing him and Ohtani saying that Mizuhara stole from him. We’re not suggesting that Mizuhara stands to benefit from this shady enterprise. There’s no evidence to suggest that yet (via The Score).

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Fox News

Matthew Boyer

It may come as a surprise to learn that sports wagering is illegal in California. The practice is above board in 40 U.S. states but The Golden State is a rare exception. Boyer is the alleged ringleader of the gambling syndicate at the center of the current Ohtani scandal.

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Sports Illustrated

The 48-year-old San Juan Capistrano resident is reportedly under investigation. Officers raided his house in October 2023 and confiscated laptops as well as documents. However, Boyer’s attorneys claim that they never met Ohtani and only spoke to Mizuhara (via Sportskeeda).

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Criminal Behavior?

Here’s a question that’s on everybody’s lips. Why is nobody pressing charges against Mizuhara if he drained money from Ohtani’s bank account to cover bad bets? The Dodgers said that they fired him because of this reason. It’s shady that they’re not trying to take it further.


Many people are speculating that the organization is trying to make this go away as quickly as possible. Who knows what else is hiding under the rug? Later, Ohtani’s attorneys said that he was the victim of a crime and that they were talking to law enforcement. Nobody knows where this is going (via KPLC).

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New York Times

Clean Cut Superstar

This is so shocking because nobody imagined that Ohtani’s name would be involved in something like this. The Japanese superstar had one of the most clean-cut images in the sporting world. He’s an icon in his native country and became famous for his otherworldly skills on the field and beaming smile.

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Now fans are questioning if it was all a lie and Ohtani was hiding his dark side. Only time will tell if he can get past the potential reputation damage he’s facing. He was a sponsor’s dream because he never did anything wrong. That’s why he took home $40 million in endorsements in 2023 (via Channel News Asia).

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Sports Illustrated

Dirty Sport

Once again, baseball continues to prove that it’s the world’s dirtiest sport. MLB endures more scandals in a year than most organizations see in their existence. They maintain a zero-tolerance stance toward illegal gambling because of the Chicago Black Sox and Pete Rose’s shenanigans.

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L.A. Times

Meanwhile, we know all about the rampant steroid abuse that took place throughout the nineties and early 2000s. Many record-breakers including Barry Bonds and Aaron Rodriguez will never make the Hall of Fame. This is a dirty sport and Ohtani’s drama adds to its seedy history (via NBC News).

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Damage Limitation

It seems clear that MLB is intent on damage limitation. They have previous with this in recent years including during the notorious Astros sign-stealing scandal. Everybody knows the players were at the center of this drama but escaped without serious repercussions.

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Instead, MLB sanctioned Houston’s GM and head coach. Rob Manfred is aware that this could damage the league’s biggest star and cause an alert with the MLB Players Association. It’s a fine balance because there will always be conspiracy theories and questions about fairness in the sport (via Sportsnet).

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Kirby Lee

No Knowledge

Ohtani raised eyebrows during an emergency press conference when he claimed that he did not know about Mizuhara’s gambling addiction. The pair have been close friends for over a decade but the two-time MVP says that he didn’t have a clue. Some critics don’t believe him and made their feelings clear online.


The Japanese superstar told the assembled media: “Up until that team meeting, I didn’t know that Ippei had a gambling addiction and was in debt. Obviously at that point, or, obviously I never agreed to pay off the debt or make payments to the bookmaker (via The Athletic).”

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Potential Consequences

The Dodgers are desperate to disassociate Ohtani from this shady scandal. Mizuhara faces unknown consequences unless MLB proves that he bet on baseball. He says that he only gambled on the NFL, NBA, and college sports. However, he does face a minimum of a one-year MLB suspension because it went through an illegal bookmaker.

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But what implications are there for Ohtani? Right now there’s no evidence to say that Ohtani knew where his money was going. This means that MLB can breathe a sigh of relief because they don’t need to suspend him. But he may face legal consequences down the line because of the investigations (via CBS Sports).

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Spectrum News

Interview Lies

Another reason why this is beyond shady is because Mizuhara flipped his story. First, he told ESPN’s Tisha Thompson that Ohtani knew about Mizuhara’s gambling debts and agreed to cover them. But then he said that he lied and that Ohtani knew nothing about any of it (via The Guardian).

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Thompson explained: “When I said, ‘Did you lie to me in that interview?’ he said, ‘Yes.’ And then he tells me Ohtani knows nothing about his gaming debts and did not do the wire transfer.” Some Internet conspiracy theorists are even speculating that he received threats or a bribe to take the fall.

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Pete Rose

The problem is that this could be the biggest gambling scandal since Rose’s downfall. Rose was one of the best players of his generation with three World Series wins. The 17-time All-Star was the NL MVP in 1973 before embarking on a head coaching career. The Reds flourished under his leadership before it came crashing down.

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Bleacher Report

In 1989, the Hall of Fame permanently barred him after it emerged that he gambled on the sport. Could we be in a similar situation where the standout player of a generation faces the same consequences? It would be shocking if somehow Ohtani missed out because of off-the-field indiscretions (via NPR).

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First Contact

It seems that Mizuhara and Boyer met for the first time at a poker game in San Diego. However, there’s another interesting detail about this. The man who allegedly introduced them to each other was a close friend of Ohtani’s teammate, David Fletcher (via BVM Sports).

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New York Post

This is another issue for MLB and Rob Manfred because it suggests that the seeds are deeper. Who knows how wide this gambling network is and what other names will emerge? Ohtani is the biggest superstar in the sport but maybe an investigation will directly implicate another player.

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New York Times

Cautionary Tale

This shady story may have implications for other sports organizations. We’ve heard two sides of this story. The first is that Ohtani innocently tried to help a friend in need. The other is that Ohtani knew nothing about the money that Mizuhara stole from him (via The Athletic).

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CBS Sports

However, there’s a third option that remains alarming to other leagues. Some analysts speculate that Mizuhara was a patsy for Ohtani’s gambling. Insiders say that this is a common practice in the NFL where some players allegedly get their friends to bet for them. Could another scandal emerge soon?

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CBS Sports

Incompetent or Deceitful?

One of the biggest issues for Ohtani is the potential damage that this will do to his reputation. The best-case scenario is that people will think he is a loyal friend but incompetent and naive. It also says a lot about how rich he is that he didn’t notice that $4.5 million vanished from his bank account.


However, many people theorize – without evidence – that Ohtani knew exactly what was going on. They speculate that Mizuhara was his patsy and placed these bets on Ohtani’s behalf. These remain rumors but they’ll continue to fly until we receive clear answers from the FBI investigation (via Esquire).

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Japan Times

Potential Favoritism

Fans hate when sports leagues show blatant favoritism. MLB is under pressure to investigate this incident properly and it appears they’re trying to do this. They don’t want to punish their biggest superstar and bring the sport into further disrepute.

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Japan Forward

However, they can’t give Ohtani a get-out-of-jail-free card either. In the end, it was his money and he has a responsibility to know where it’s going and what’s happening. It would be different if he noticed it was gone and raised the alarm. But that’s why this story is so shady (via The Ringer).