Editorial: Latest Ippei Mizuhara Bombshell Exonerates Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani

For many Dodgers fans, the verdict was in long before the Department of Justice released a 37-page complaint against Ippei Mizuhara on Thursday, the result of an exhaustive investigation.

Two-way star Shohei Ohtani has always said he didn’t realize he was a theft victim until his former interpreter effectively confessed it to the team after the Dodgers’ season-opening victory over the San Diego Padres in March. Ohtani said he’s the victim here. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Maybe not. Maybe not when the amount of money missing from your bank account is in excess of $4.5 million. (As it turned out, the amount was closer to $16 million). How does one lose track of that much money without knowing it? How does a baseball player’s interpreter — usually an ancillary member of an athlete’s inner circle — have access to that kind of cash in the first place?

There were other relevant questions from Day 1 of the Mizuhara scandal. The most relevant were answered on Thursday when United States Attorney E. Martin Estrada of the Central District of California announced it was charging Mizuhara with fraud. On Friday, Mizuhara surrendered to authorities in Los Angeles and was released on bond.

Anyone who still doubts that Ohtani is a victim, not a perpetrator of the most well-executed framing since Game 5 of the 1997 World Series, is probably a lost cause. The evidence to support the conclusion the Department of Justice reached is the size of a mountain. The contradictory evidence is a molehill. Why would the DOJ risk an exoneration of Mizuhara in court if the case against Shohei Ohtani stood a chance?

To anyone who still embraces the conspiracy theory, the response is simple: do the work. Start by reading the DOJ complaint. Then find a fluent, native Japanese speaker who can review 9,700 pages of text messages between Ohtani and Mizuhara. (The IRS did.) Review the messages between Mizuhara and the illegal sports bookmaking operation that gladly accepted millions of dollars at Ohtani’s expense.

Then ask which makes the most sense: that Shohei Ohtani purposefully orchestrated the most successful cover-up scheme to hide his own gambling debts while simultaneously pitching and hitting at an All-Star level for years? Or that Mizuhara, who lied about attending UC Riverside, and about interpreting for the Boston Red Sox, and who was literally the conduit between Ohtani and his own parents, took advantage of his access, and his friend, and lied about that too?

Only Mizuhara’s penalty isn’t decided. It’s safe to call in the jury. The verdict is in.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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JP Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra writes and edits Major League Baseball content for DodgersNation.com and is the author of 'The 50 Greatest Dodger Games Of All Time.' He once recorded a keyboard solo on the same album as two of the original Doors. Follow at https://x.com/jphoornstra

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