• Loading stock data...
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Following a Long List of Blows, MLB Walks for a Change

  • Officials say the Dodgers’ superstar is ‘considered a victim in this case.’
  • The federal complaint details how large Mizuhara’s gambling addiction had grown.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

When not a lot else has necessarily gone well lately for MLB, the league can now breathe a sigh of relief as Shohei Ohtani, baseball’s biggest star, is not facing criminal charges from the gambling scandal that has surrounded him.

As Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, is now the subject of felony federal bank fraud charges stemming from more than $16 million in theft from Ohtani, U.S. attorney Martin Estrada said the Dodgers’ phenom is “considered a victim in this case.” To that end, Mizuhara is alleged to have used a series of tactics to hide a serious gambling addiction and his theft from Ohtani, including identifying himself as the Dodgers’ phenom to “trick and deceive” bank employees into authorizing transfers. 

“Our investigation has revealed that due to the position of trust he occupied with Mr. Ohtani, Mr. Mizuhara had unique access to Mr. Ohtani’s finances,” Estrada said. “Mr. Mizuhara used and abused that position of trust in order to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani.”

This Isn’t Rose, A-Rod, or Bauer

Over its long history, MLB has seen some of its biggest stars tainted, often irreparably, by various scandals, whether it be Pete Rose and gambling, Alex Rodriguez and performance-enhancing drugs, or Trevor Bauer and domestic violence, to name a few. But Ohtani threatened to top all those prior situations and render unfathomable damage upon the sport had he been implicated, given his unique two-way abilities, global fan appeal, and record-setting $700 million contract. 

Even compared to the last six months, Ohtani’s clearance by federal authorities represents a dose of good news for the league. Just since the end of last season, MLB has grappled with an ongoing uniform debacle, disruption in the regional sports network space, a spate of pitcher injuries, tension with the MLB Players Association, and the ongoing A’s saga that is now extending to Sacramento, among other issues. 

MLB, however, has not detailed where its own internal investigation of Ohtani stands, though it said Thursday that it “will wait until resolution of the criminal proceeding to determine whether further investigation is warranted.” Serious questions also remain about how Ohtani or his accountants did not detect earlier that so much money was going missing. But critically for the league, the federal charges from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California show no culpability for Ohtani and no wagering by Mizuhara on baseball. Ohtani has claimed innocence and has been cooperating with investigators. 

Mizuhara’s Many Issues

Previously considered one of Ohtani’s closest friends, Mizuhara could receive a fine of up to $1 million and/or 30 years in prison. Among the key details in the federal complaint against Mizuhara:

  • Mizuhara generated a total of $142.3 million in winning bets and $182.9 million in losing ones and, as a result, amassed a gambling debt of nearly $41 million. 
  • His average bet was about $12,800, and over roughly a 25-month period, he was placing an average of nearly 25 bets per day.
  • Mizuhara was fully aware of the lack of winning, and even allegedly joked at one point to a bookmaker—not named in the complaint but previously reported to be Mathew Bowyer—in 2022, “I’m terrible at this sport betting thing, huh? Lol.”

“Technically, I did steal from [Ohtani],” Mizuhara is alleged to have told the bookmaker. “It’s all over for me.”

Linkedin
Whatsapp
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Chaos at the PGA Championship: Here’s What We Know

The No. 1 golfer in the world nearly didn’t make it to Valhalla Golf Club.

Mets Owner Faces Backlash After Tweet Sparks Trade Speculation

Mets owner Steve Cohen is walking back a now deleted tweet that further riled an impatient fan base.
Bally-Sports

DSG’s Path to Revival Faces Major Pushback from MLB, NBA, and NHL

Three major pro leagues raise further concerns about the bankrupt Bally Sports parent.

NFL’s Christmas Shake-Up: Netflix and Amazon Will Take It Over in ’25

This is the new-age NFL, where anything goes, if the price is right.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

MLB, NBA, NHL Broadcasting Future Goes to Court

0:00

Featured Today

February 5, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; The grounds of the Capitol Building empty out following the conclusion of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech on February 5, 2019.

‘A Breathtaking Lobbying Campaign’: The NCAA’s Sophisticated Effort to Save Amateurism

Inside the carefully coordinated, multimillion-dollar operation to end the athletes’ rights era.
May 14, 2024

The WNBA Was Forged in Houston. Why Won’t It Go Back There?

Houston’s a perfect fit for expansion. The league isn’t considering it yet.
May 9, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) stands with the team during the national anthem on Thursday, May 9, 2024, during the preseason game against the Atlanta Dream at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
May 12, 2024

‘Perfect Storm’: The Rise of Local WNBA Broadcast Pacts

With national attention reaching new heights, regional coverage could dictate the future.
Mar 29, 2023; New York, New York, USA; American actors and comedians Chris Rock (left) and Ben Stiller sit court side during the third quarter between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden.
May 11, 2024

The Haves and Have-Nots: How the Knicks’ Celebrity Row Works

Unwritten rules, an expectation of quid pro quo, and nothing is free.

Careers

Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Adidas
Multiple - USA Careers
FanDuel
Multiple - USA Careers

Former Ohtani Interpreter Pleading Guilty to Bank Fraud, False Tax Return

Ippei Mizuhara faces up to 33 years in federal prison for his crimes.
Mystic Dan
May 6, 2024

Kentucky Derby Roars Back With Big TV Numbers, Inks NBC Extension

The Triple Crown horse race posts an extended set of audience and betting increases.
May 7, 2024

Commissioners Grapple with Power Limits Amid Sports Betting Boom

The NBA’s Adam Silver acknowledges ‘we only have so much control.’
Sponsored

Major League Rugby’s Vision for American Rugby

How Major League Rugby is leading the Rugby renaissance in the U.S.
May 5, 2024

Can ESPN Bet Get on Solid Footing Before Football Season?

Penn Entertainment missed its quarterly estimates.
May 2, 2024

ESPN’s Pat McAfee Jokes About ESPN Bet’s Poor Performance

‘You get knocked down, you come back!’ he said.
May 1, 2024

New Report Shows How Bookie Laundered Ohtani’s Stolen Cash

Ohtani’s stolen money wound up in a Las Vegas casino.
April 17, 2024

NBA’s Lifetime Ban Highlights Surge in Gambling-Related Incidents

The NBA’s lifetime ban on Jontay Porter marks a crescendo of escalating incidents across the industry.