IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE, IT’S…NOT SHOHEI OHTANI.

2023-12-13 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani

CNN | MLB Static

When Robert Herjavec stepped off that plane, the fix was in.
Through no fault of his own, his flight from California to Toronto sparked the hearts and minds of Canadians across the nation. As thousands watched the aircraft that was meant to have Shohei Ohtani on it enter Canadian airspace, nobody was ready for the bombshell of truth that hit social media right before its landing.
Ohtani isn’t on that plane. He’s at home, in Los Angeles. What? How’s that possible? Jon Morosi confirmed that flight was his!
Undoubtedly one of the wildest days of rumors and speculation in the history of Major League Baseball, December 8th was, in many ways, Toronto sports at its finest. A swell of excitement, followed by a letdown of equal caliber. It’s Kawhi all over again, but a thousand times worse - a sentiment echoed throughout many a Blue Jays fans, throughout the country.
But it wasn’t just the rejection from baseball’s top player, no, the gravity of his free agency drew to the forefront a much larger, underlying issue; journalistic integrity. Sports fans are irrational creatures, highly driven by their team’s success to a point where the tracking of mysterious planes has become all too commonplace. Jon Morosi, a notoriously trustworthy and well-known face amongst the baseball community, will face no repercussions for his erroneous confirmation that Ohtani was flying here. Perhaps that’s just, perhaps not - but his deep-rooted connections to Major League Baseball is the catalyst to both his success and, as we now see, failure. Official MLB social media accounts regurgitated his tweet. MLB sources wrote about his tweet. News outlets across the world amplified his tweet.
And it was all wrong. Did Morosi’s tweet single-handedly change the outcome of Ohtani’s decision? No, probably not. But what it did do was open up a can of worms that saw journalists from Los Angeles to Toronto turn down any responsibility to take blame for their reporting. It took a day for Jon Morosi to apologize. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and Ben Nichsolson-Smith blamed us, the fans. J.P. Hoornstra, allegedly a member of the BBWAA, hasn’t so much as backtracked a word of his original ‘Ohtani to Toronto’ report. The MLB hasn’t said a word.
It’s a disgusting trend of gaslighting fanbases, blaming folks who entrust these organizations with factual reporting with overreacting. Finger pointing at its finest, exempt from kangaroo court because of the positions they hold and the people they work for. The ultimate cop-out, deferring all blame to someone else, someone far away.
Toronto was never going to pay Shohei Ohtani $700 Million, and there’s a legitimate gripe to be had with the organization being used as a pawn to extract more money from the Dodgers - it’s a fair opinion to have. Did Morosi’s reporting have an impact in any of it? We can guess, but nobody will ever know.
Throughout the craziness, another unfortunate side effect has been the constantly-seen, self-centered rhetoric perpetuated by American journalists about American teams. It took Ken Rosenthal, a well-known Fox Sports reporter and writer for The Athletic, no time at all to justify Ohtani’s signing as “good for baseball” when compared to a potential deal with the Blue Jays. It’s a patronizing opinion to have, and ignorant at best - the stereotype that the sport can only benefit from those within Los Angeles and New York is not only wrong, but a sign that reporters like Rosenthal have no shame in being, for all intents and purposes, a shill for those markets.
The idea that Toronto is unable to help baseball progress is, well, a lie. This weird ideology that it must be American has grown in recent years, in no small part thanks to careless messaging by those who have a social media audience. Jerry Hairston Jr.’s comment about both national anthems being played in Toronto is a prime example of needless pandering to Americans who need no help in feeling nationalistic.
For the Blue Jays, disappointment is immeasurable. First Juan Soto, now Shohei Ohtani - what’s the next step forward? Forget on-field performance, your entire fanbase is up in arms at you, your reporters, your past decisions, and, on top of it all, Jon Morosi. It’s a colossal nightmare, at least from the outside. The Raptors went through it with Kawhi Leonard, and now it’s your turn. After a massively underwhelming 2023 season, sympathy runs short.
If there’s one thing for certain about Toronto sports, it’s that American disrespect has no place here. Maybe, just maybe, a little less tasteless criticism and a little more factual reporting.
Note: At the time of this article, Ohtani’s deal has yet to be confirmed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, pending the completion of a full physical.
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By: Gus Cousins

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