Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani

I have no alternative but to believe Google Translate when it tells me that the Japanese word for “saga” is “monogatari” and that leads me to believe that the sports world for the moment is consumed by:

  • Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani.

We live in polarized times here in the US.  There are people in “Blue States” who would not believe a report that the sun came up in the east this morning if that assertion came from FOX News; simultaneously, there are people in “Red States” who would doubt the same assertion if MSNBC were the source.  Monogatari-Shohei Ohtani seems to have a different credibility problem:

  • The people involved keep changing their stories – – and – –
  • Some of the potential behaviors here defy logic.

Let me start with the alleged illegal bookmaker who was owed a reported $4.5M by someone who lost a lot of bets.  Does it make a lot of sense to you that this man would extend that level of credit to someone like the interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, who had a reported annual salary of $85K?  Before I even get to the business of how this bookie got his payment(s), I do not understand how this situation was allowed to evolve.  Either the bookie was making a huge bet on the solvency of Mizuhara – – which is not generally part of “Bookie Modus Vivendi” – – or the bookie was somehow convinced that Ohtani, who is ultimately solvent, would back the IOUs.

Now let me be clear here; I have no idea if that course of logic is even partially correct; but if it is correct, there seem to be divergent conclusions:

  • The bookie was convinced that Mizuhara had access to Ohtani’s funds.  That would make sense, but it then raises the question as to how said “access” would work.  Did Mizuhara have the “passwords” to Ohtani’s finances, or did Ohtani simply assure Mizuhara and the bookie that the IOUs were covered?
  • The answers to those two questions take Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani in very different directions.

Or …

  • Another way that the bookie might have become convinced that Mizuhara’s credit was good is if the bookie knew or believed that Mizuhara was simply a conduit for bets made by Ohtani himself and that it is Ohtani who is in debt to the bookie.
  • And if that does not take Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani in another different direction, then I have no understanding at all of this matter.

As if that were not bad enough Mizuhara and Ohtani have both changed their stories over the past week or so.  When ESPN first reported on the matter, a spokesperson for Ohtani said that Ohtani “transferred funds to cover Mizuhara’s gambling debt.”  In the original ESPN report, it said that Ohtani told his agent that he (Ohtani) had covered Mizuhara’s gambling debts in $500K increments.  About 24 hours later, the story changed to make Ohtani the victim of a massive theft of his money by Mizuhara.

Reports said that money was transferred in $500K packets.  I have no familiarity with financial assets remotely like Shohei Ohtani’s, but I do have a problem rationalizing that somehow those sorts of deductions could go unnoticed as would have to have been the case if this were a “massive theft” that occurred in increments of $500K

Shohei Ohtani held a news conference; obviously, the anticipation was that a degree of clarity would come from that event.  Not exactly.  At the press conference, Ohtani said – – through an interpreter of course:

“I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do it on my behalf, and I have never gone through a bookmaker to bet on sports and was never asked to assist betting payment for anyone else.”

That is THE statement that the LA Dodgers and the mavens who run MLB needed to have out there.  If that is the unvarnished truth, then Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani has a vector heading that is problematic for Ippei Mizuhara and possibly the alleged bookie in this matter, but it leads to a safe haven for MLB.  What that statement does not address is how and why the statements of Mizuhara and Ohtani changed so drastically in the evolution of the story.

I have no interest in trying to “convict” any of the parties to Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani here and let me assure everyone that I am not a conspiracy theorist.  But this mess is not going to be easily ignored by MLB.  Their first reaction was that it would be left to the authorities to determine the facts of the matter; it quickly became apparent that was not going to feed the bulldog of public attention to this story.  MLB changed its tune too and announced that it was looking into the matter on its own.

As noted above, the self-interests of the Dodgers and MLB are obvious here and those self-interests will cast a shadow on just about anything that MLB determines to be the facts of the matter during its ‘investigation”.  As an example of a clearly biased analysis of this mess, consider that there is a video on the Internet where Pete Rose says – – paraphrasing here – –

“If I had an interpreter back in the 70s and 80s, I’d be in the clear today.”

Good luck to those folks in MLB who will be associated with this ‘investigation”.  Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani may not be as intractable as untying the Gordian Knot, but it will not be an endeavor that brings inner peace to the investigators.

Finally, I will close today with this truism that may have relevance to gambling:

“The surest way to double your money is to fold it I half and put it in your pocket.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



7 thoughts on “Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani”

    1. Doug:

      If even one of the Marx Brothers were still alive, they would have gotten the call …

  1. Jack,
    There are a host of questions concerning the Banks Secrecy Act [BSA] regarding anti-money laundering laws. If the payments were in cash, how did the interpreter access the funds? Were federal cash transaction reports [CTR’s] prepared by the institution releasing the funds. There is the possibility of another federal form to be prepared, called an SAR, which is a Suspicious Activity Report that applies to cash and non cash transactions. The SAR is prepared whenever a transaction that is unusual of the clients activity. These reports are sent to FinCEN, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. I can see where the Feds get involved to investigate what happened here. The penalties for the parties involved are severe, for the institution if they did not follow BSA laws and the client if he attempted to avoid BSA laws.
    There are signatures on documents that banks require for movement of funds. Whose signatures are on those documents? Would be interesting to know if Ohtani authorized them. If so, how do you separate the movement from the reason for the movement: wagers? Lots yet to be uncovered here. In my view, it does not look good for the Dodgers or Ohtani.

    1. Willie Jones:

      I cannot expect MLB’s investigation to get too deeply into the legalities/procedures for moving money around; that is for the Feds/IRS to determine. What MLB has to determine and share with its fans is what I mentioned last week:

      What did Ohtani know and when did he know it?

  2. Jack, in MLB’s quest to answer your question: What did Otani know, and when did he know it, MLB doesn’t have the luxury of turning a blind eye to what any investigator knows about money laundering or BSA requirements. I’ve investigated business embezzlements/fraud and many times they are associated with what are BSA violations. Just my opinion, but MLB has to be concerned/ sensitive about that issue.

    1. Willie Jones:

      Clearly, you know far more about this subject than I do. I presume that the financial institutions that were involved with any or all of these fund transfers would be compliant with the Bank Secrecy Act – – but I don’t know if they would be allowed to share info with an MLB investigation to any degree.

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