Is the Ohtani Interpreter Betting Scandal Shaking Up MLB?

A Twist in Ohtani's Career Amidst Translator Controversy

by Nouman Rasool
Is the Ohtani Interpreter Betting Scandal Shaking Up MLB?
© Dustin Bradford

Wednesday, September 8, was going to seem like a red-letter day in Major League Baseball, highlighted by the debut of a much-ballyhooed 29-year-old sensation with the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Diego Padres in South Korea.

But that day reportedly took a turn "according to ESPN and next-day reports by the Los Angeles Times. The controversy exploded two days ago over Shohei Ohtani's interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, who was shown the exit after it was learned that he allegedly owes a bookie at least several million dollars under an ongoing investigation in California where sports betting is illegal.

The plot thickened, it has now emerged, noir-style, that Ohtani wired as much as a million dollars in two different wire transfers of 500K from his bank account to someone linked to the bookie. Matthew Bowyer's federal agents busted the Pacific mansion in Palisades, California only last month.

They said the money was coming straight from Ohtani, his agents said that the money was for settling Mizuhara's gambling debts to the staggering tune of $4.5 million. Ohtani's Unexpected Ordeal Initially, Ohtani's people told ESPN that the two transfers were made at the request of Mizuhara.

But after a 90-minute sit-down with Mizuhara, a new statement from Ohtani's people was provided. It read, "In responding to media inquiries about this situation, it was evident to us that Shohei has been the victim of an extremely serious theft, which has been reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities.

One of his former teammates was quoted as saying that it was "a very close brotherhood," but it would be hard-put to think Ohtani liked keeping conversation in Japanese because his English really had no problems, given he tended to be around Mizuhara all the time in the dugout until he was sacked.

"Sho did not take part in betting at all," Mizuhara said in response to a phone call from ESPN. "I was ignorant at the time that it was against the law and had to pay the price. I pledge not to gamble in one's actions." Bowyer simply said he did not place any bets.

It is all terribly awkward: a star pitcher with a leading franchise in legal wrangles that might shift the shape of the season. And it all hits as fans wade through the gamut of advertising from the sport’s official betting partners across the MLB styles.