Rest in Peace, OJ Simpson

Today, I will at least partially catch up with comments on events from the past week that I have been on hiatus – – watching the total eclipse in the Texas Hill country just west of Austin, TX.  The first catch-up item is the passing of OJ Simpson due to cancer.  Given the outpouring of vitriol that his death evoked, it is safe to say that many people’s feelings that he got away with a double murder have not mellowed much over the last 30 years or so.

  • [Aside:  I recognize and support the fact that OJ Simpson was found “Not Guilty” at trial.  Nonetheless, I am one of the people who believe that he did commit those two murders and that his acquittal was based on having far more competent legal representation in the matter than the prosecution had.]

OJ Simpson left a legacy on the NFL as a great player; his murder trial left a legacy on cable TV because it drew networks like CNN and Court TV (now TruTV) into the mainstream.  That trial also highlighted the fact that wealthy defendants have a much better chance of prevailing in court matters in the US than do defendants of meager means.

Simpson’s passing raises a question that might be interesting:

  • Which iconic athlete had the greatest fall from grace?
      • Lance Armstrong
      • Pete Rose
      • OJ Simpson
      • Tiger Woods
  • You make the call …

The phrase, “Rest in peace,” is usually reserved for one who has just passed.  In this case, perhaps that phrase can be offered up to the deceased – – OJ Simpson – – and to everyone whose knee jerk reaction to news of his death was hatred and venom.

Moving on …  I am not a conspiracy theorist; and whenever an argument is made wherein a key element of the “logic” is the absence of evidence to the contrary, I usually tune out and go on to the next item.  However, the Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani – – as I have dubbed that story – – smells rotten to me.  And yes, I acknowledge that my issue with the story as it stands relies on some “absence of evidence”.  Nevertheless …

This story keeps changing in more than mere details.  The first iteration was that Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Muzihara, had paid $4.5M to an offshore bookie in $500K increments using Ohtani’s funds to pay off gambling debts.  Later that amount was reported to be $16M which is quite a jump but is nothing compared to the now alleged “gambling losses” of $41.5M over the course of less than 3 years.  Muzihara’s income has been reported to be as low as $80K per year and as high as $300K per year which is another unusually high inconsistency in the reporting but even at the highest reported number, one must wonder how someone with that income can “get credit” from a bookie to the tune of $41.5M.

Now, the allegations have shifted from “gambling losses” to “bank fraud” perpetrated by Muzihara.  Bank fraud has a far smaller emotional component when associated with MLB than does gambling debt payoffs; there can be no argument about that.  But some of the other details that are emerging from the story defy logic:

  • Supposedly there were about 19,000 bets made that racked up the losses in this case and all this happened over a 30-month period between 2021 and now.
  • Simple arithmetic says that comes down to about 630 bets per month and more than 20 bets per day for 2.5 years – – and Ohtani never had an inkling it was going on.
  • In addition, neither Ohtani nor his agents/accountants/financial advisors noticed a series of $500K transfers from his accounts?

There is an event from about 10 years ago that I cannot get out of my mind whenever I read the next installment of Monogatari – Shohei Ohtani.  Cris Carter was once invited to address an NFL “Rookie Seminar” as part of a program the league used to try to get young players attuned to their new life of “fame and fortune”.  Carter told the rookie players:

“If you all got a crew, you got to have a fall guy in the crew.  If you all have a crew, one of those fools got to know, he’s the one going to jail. We’ll get him out.”

I can’t get that memory suppressed at all when I think of this Ohtani mess, and it sure seems to me that MLB has conveniently deferred any and all of this to “the authorities” as opposed to commissioning another John Dowd style investigation as was the case in the Pete Rose affair.  Rose’s playing days were over; he was only a manager; his value to MLB was limited.  Ohtani is the biggest star in the game today and brings back comparisons to Babe Ruth and the glorious history of baseball; his value to MLB is unmatched.

  • How convenient is it that there just might be a “fall guy” to cop a plea to “bank fraud” while MLB goes on marketing its face of the game without any serious investigation related to gambling – – and potentially gambling on baseball?

This whole thing stinks.  What it needs is an investigative reporter or two – – the modern-day version of Woodward and Bernstein or maybe Seymour Hersh – – to dig in here.  Maybe that is what Commissioner Manfred might need as a prod to do a serious investigation of its own.

Finally, comedian Norm MacDonald used to use his persona on SNL as the “news anchor” to skewer repeatedly OJ Simpson as a murderer.  Let me close with what I think is the funniest of his “news reports”:

“Against the Jets last week, Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas broke O.J. Simpson’s career rushing record, and the week before he surpassed Simpson’s career touchdowns. Next up for Thomas: an attempt to kill three people at once.”

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



3 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, OJ Simpson”

  1. The Fall From Grace final four is a close call among the first three, but Tiger is not in the running for #1.

  2. Well, I think more Rot In Hell, but….

    OJ is the furthest drop. No one supports him. He was a pariah.

    Lance second. It was a minor sport, so vanishing is more expected, but he was a major cheat. Once a week someone should kick him in the remaining ball.

    Rose still has some proponents. He was managing a good part of the time, and I have not seen any injuries linked to his usage of players in games he bet on, though it may have occurred. Still, no Hall, no way. Never.

    Woods the least, he still has a lot of supporters. Heck, they never even looked that hard into him flying in disgraced doctor/admitted steroid smuggler Galea down to Florida (where he has to license to practice) multiple times. Possibly why his body is breaking down? Though he did have a huge torso twist too. But no one died….

    I miss Norm McDonald. My favorite bit was where he commented on a cliff diving tournament. He said he thought in that sport there were two classifications – “Grand Champion” and “Stuff on a rock”

    1. Ed:

      My reason for putting Woods on the list is that at one time he was THE BEST at his sport in the world – – and possibly THE BEST EVER. None of the other guys on my list achieved quite that level of recognition – – so Woods fall may not be as deep as others but he started from a higher level.

      Basically, I agree with your list but could be convinced to put Rose second and Armstrong third on the basis of the repeated and ineffective lying that Rose engaged in trying to salvage what was left of his reputation.

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