Shohei Ohtani, Illegal Gambling and the Evil World of Translators

How to understand the scandal of Shohei Ohtani, Major League Baseball, organized crime, illegal gambling, New York Mets, 8 Men Out, and the evil world of translators.

Of course it was the translator.
Translators are, like librarians or cardigan-wearing women who work in charity shops, born and bred notorious criminals. Translators, like their illegal confederates among the book stacks of the local library, are well-known denizens of shady bookmakers and underworld dens. Just as the ladies in the Oxfam shop or Goodwill store make your blood freeze in terror, so too is it when you see a translator. You know you are in the presence of unadulterated evil.

So it is good to see that the investigators and top officials of Major League Baseball (MLB) are putting their collective feet down against the pernicious problem of gambling-crazed translators infecting their sport.
For those of you who have not followed the latest from the crime-soaked world of translation, here is the story.

The Kind-Hearted Shohei Ohtani

Last week, it was revealed that a hapless, international sporting superstar Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers – had at first been too kind to and then swindled by his hard-hearted translator. This irredeemable character had been betting heavily with the kind of massive salary that translators receive. You know how it is, when translators are not switching effortlessly between various arcane points of linguistics, they pull out spare millions from their wallets and bet with illegal bookmakers. The bookies allow them to do this because they know of the vast amount of money that translators make every day.

Somehow, some of this money – amounting to $4.5 million dollars – came from Shohei Ohtani’s account and, over the last two years, was transferred to the illegal bookmaker.

This must have been slightly embarrassing for the MLB because it is difficult to think of a more important super-star for the league than Shohei Ohtani. First, he is a very good player. For the under-appreciated skills of hitting, throwing and catching a ball, in December 2023, he signed an MLB contract for a mere $700 million.

Second, Shohei Ohtani is an international star. The MLB is desperate to expand the reach of their league into new markets. They have reached saturation point in North America. Expensive tickets to the live games and a roster of meaningless matches have turned off the younger audience. Baseball is, now, the sport of the elderly in its home country.

To solve this problem, MLB officials have developed two important strategies: first, they turned their attention to global markets, particularly the rising Asian economies of China, Japan and South Korea. Shohei Ohtani, a Japanese baseball player, is a perfect MLB “product” to sell the league in this part of the sporting world: second, league officials have sold off as much of baseball as they could get away with to sports gambling companies. If, now, the hapless Shohei Ohtani turns out to be an addicted gambler who placed bets with an illegal bookmaker – how awful it would be for the league.

However, all is well, as it was the translator who was the problem.

The Tide of Addicted Athletes

This is convenient for the MLB as athletes, in general, have been shown to have addiction rates to gambling several times higher than the general population. Everything that makes a sports person good at their profession: never giving up, overturning impossible odds, compulsive obsession and their need to win: makes them terrible gamblers. The staggering debts of top athletes like Michael Jordan, Pete Rose, Gianluigi Buffon, Wayne Rooney, Phil Mickelson, John Daly, Denny McLain, Joey Barton, Jaromir Jagr, Art Schlichter, Charles Barkley, Sandro Tonali, Nicolo Fagioli, Ivan Toney, and countless others of this gaming and gambling addicted new generation of sports stars will attest to.

Pete Rose dealing with media questions during his sports gambling scandal

However, all is well, as it was the translator who was the problem.

Asian Organized Crime and Baseball

It is also convenient for the MLB as Asian organized criminals LOVE baseball. Taiwanese and South Korean baseball are rife with gambling and match-fixing with illegal bookmakers. The Taiwanese League went from thirteen teams in the early 1990s to four. All the rest of the teams were kicked out because of mob-linked corruption.

However, all is well, as it was the translator who was the problem.

How to Meet an Illegal Bookie

Speaking of not being difficult to meet people, there is a very small issue for the MLB – tiny really. According to the ESPN reporter who broke the story, the translator first met the illegal bookie at a poker game with other baseball players at a hotel where baseball teams were staying two years ago.

Clearly, the illegal bookmaker has so much time on his hands that he went to a low-stakes poker game where clean-cut sports people were playing for thimbles and cast-off buttons. Making his way through the gallery of all-American heroes, the illegal bookmaker focused his attention on the obvious big spender – the translator. You can see it all, as if it were a scene from 8 Men Out – a film about the true story of a group of translators corrupting the World Series of baseball in 1919.

For those who have not see the movie or missed the hotel, here is some of the dialogue:

Criminal bookmaker to shady sidekick as they walk into a hotel bedroom full of baseball players engaging in friendly games of Twister and Tiddlywinks. In the corner, sits a group of men playing cards:

Criminal Bookmaker: Who is that character throwing big cash down on the table?

Shady Sidekick: The translator. He speaks all the languages of baseball: Spanish, Japanese, vernacular statistics, poker, even some English.

Criminal Bookmaker: It would be the translator. Those guys make the big bucks.

Shady Sidekick: Yeah, not like the athletes. You want that I should get the translator to talk to you?

Criminal Bookmaker: Yeah, he is cut from the same cloth as myself: a tough, take-no-prisoners kind of guy. I bet he regularly mixes his subjunctive verbs with the conditional tense just for the pure fun of it.

Shady Sidekick: I just wish there were not so many pesky athletes playing for hair pins and sewing needles getting in the way of some serious action.

Criminal Bookmaker: Get those ball players out of here! What would I, an illegal sports gambler, want to do with hanging around athletes?

Given this highly accurate dialogue from a real life scene, it is a tiny bit embarrassing for MLB security to have illegal bookmakers hanging out with players in their hotels. It seems that they either permitted this kind of activity or missed it entirely.

However, all is well, as it was the translator who was the problem.

Questions for the MLB Security

A few questions then to MLB Security.

Is it usual to have high-stakes poker games between players and illegal gamblers at team hotels in baseball?

In other sports that can get pretty expensive – some players in the England national soccer/football squad between 1999 and 2008, were betting vast amounts of money in card games and sports gambles between themselves while at major international tournaments.

Did you investigate this particular game?
So how much was the poker game worth?
Who else was there?
If you did, why did the illegal bookmaker have a relationship with the translator for the next two years?

I mean, people of bad faith, might suggest that the translator could have served as a conduit of cash to/from various unwitting baseball players and the bookmaker. This was, after all, the route used by that other baseball superstar Pete Rose. He was a gambling addict and he used members of his entourage to place bets with illegal bookies. They had a carefully worked out code and system of communications and illicit payments.
Not saying that this was the case with Shohei Ohtani, obviously, the translator was the problem, but there was that small problem of the New York Mets and their links with a New York crime family. The Mets had a mob connected Clubhouse Manager receiving expensive cars from some of the players, ostensibly because of their “debts”.

Here is another question for MLB Security.

In the fifteen years, since members of a crime family were discovered hanging out with senior New York Mets players, has there been any effective investigation to ensure that these kind of activities were not being done by any other player at any other team?
Actually, has there been any education since the legalization of sports gambling and the widespread sponsorship of the league by betting companies into the dangers of betting addiction for athletes?
Or has the MLB spent all of their efforts cracking down on the translators?

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