Shohei Ohtani spurning Yankees has never had fans more grateful

He's the Dodgers' problem now.
Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers / Michael Owens/GettyImages

Back in 2017, when the New York Yankees were pegged the "favorites" to land Shohei Ohtani -- who, at the time, was dubbed the "Japanese Babe Ruth" -- they soon learned they were never really a consideration for the two-way star ... at all.

Ohtani ruled out the Yankees before any other team, effectively wasting the team's time because it was evident he preferred the West Coast and a dimmer spotlight. Knowing who the Yankees are, what was the point of taking the meeting? We can say ditto for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who simply used the Yankees and Mets as negotiating leverage only to force the Dodgers' bidding up to $325 million.

So when Ohtani hit free agency this offseason, attentive Yankees fans didn't even waste their breath. Ohtani was not coming to the Bronx, and there was no sense in putting any energy into the remote possibility. The Yankees, thankfully, didn't waste any more of their valuable time getting involved.

Ohtani eventually signed a $700 million contract with the Dodgers, a pairing that was telegraphed for over a year at that point. Then the Dodgers landed Yamamoto, and a good portion of Yankees fans exhaled because that bidding got far too insane for anyone's comfort.

The early returns for the Dodgers? Yamamoto has only gotten rocked thus far. His spring was not good and the Padres chased him after one inning of work in the second contest of the Seoul Series.

Ohtani? Not much to see here, unless you're interested in a sports betting/fraud scandal involving the veteran's interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, who has been fired by the Dodgers.

Shohei Ohtani spurning Yankees has never had fans more grateful

On the surface, Ohtani's situation is an obvious PR disaster. But the way the Dodgers have handled it has only made it worse. Perhaps it's beyond their control, but the narrative switches and out-of-left-field developments have made the whole thing more complicated and further susceptible to troubling headlines.

With how the Yankees have handled many a difficult happenings over the last few years -- ranging from Aroldis Chapman's arrival to Domingo Germán's suspension to the trade of Jordan Montgomery to various high-profile injuries -- Ohtani dealing with this in New York would have been a nightmare Freddy Krueger couldn't top.

Whether Ohtani committed any alleged wrongdoing is hardly the concern. The game's biggest star is being investigated by MLB and the IRS. And the story has changed, going from "Ohtani helped cover Mizuhara's gambling debts" to "Mizuhara lied to Ohtani and stole money from him in order to pay the debts, which were revealed in wire transfers".

And here, we thought nothing could top Brian Cashman announcing two hours before 2022 Opening Day that Aaron Judge had rejected the Yankees' very generous contract extension offer. That honor now goes to the Dodgers, Ohtani and Mizuhara. The Dodgers are running around trying to brace themselves for cover and have seemingly communicated poorly. Ohtani read a statement from a piece of paper to address the issue instead of answering questions from the media. And Mizuhara has been ousted just days before the official start of the MLB season stateside.

The Yankees have their problems, yes, but fans couldn't be more grateful this one isn't on their plate. And now that wasted meeting from 2017 is more of a blessing than anything.