Oh, Internet, you're crazy
On Saturday, Shohei Ohtani, baseball's greatest player, signed a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At more than a quarter of a billion dollars, it is the largest contract in baseball history. In the 24 hours or so leading up to the announcement, there was wild speculation about where Ohtani would end up, leading to sports betting craziness.
Ohtani remained silent about his possible free agency destination, which infuriated baseball reporters. Because the less there is talk, the less content can be pumped out. Some journalists and media personalities even said the secrecy surrounding his meetings with teams was bad for baseball. OK.
But then on Friday afternoon, the Dodgers media outlet reported that, according to multiple sources, today's Babe Ruth had signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Other reputable outlets ran with it.
In addition, people traced the route of a private jet from California to Toronto that was allegedly transporting Shohei Ohtani.
With rumors now circulating that Ohtani would be heading to the Blue Jays, sportsbooks have increased Toronto's odds of winning the 2024 World Series from 15-1 to just 8-1. According to ESPN, there has been an avalanche of bets on the Blue Jays – Toronto accounted for nearly 85% of the money in World Series bets at BetMGM on Friday.
“There were some pretty well-respected players betting on the Blue Jays,” said Eric Biggio, the Caesars' lead baseball dealer. said ESPN. “Then the soap opera took a different route.”
As it turned out, the person who got off that private jet was entrepreneur Robert Herjavec from the series “Shark Tank.” And on Saturday, Ohtani himself announced on social media that he would be signing with LA.
Things have calmed down
The Blue Jays are currently around 15-1 to 16-1 in sports betting and the Dodgers are World Series favorites at around 6-1 (there are some outliers for both teams).
“These (reports) came from real baseball players, not random people on Twitter throwing things out there. … We had to respect it,” Blum added. “When it turned out it wasn’t true, we cleaned it up.”
Patrick Eichner, senior director of communications at PointsBet Canada, told ESPN that those betting on Toronto were not people trying to beat the news before the odds changed. With the Ohtani rumor, the odds had already changed – it was just bettors eager to put money on the Jays.
Aside from the odds changing due to the Toronto riots, it is also rumored that the initial report led to Los Angeles increasing its offer by as much as $100 million. And what's still crazy is that the $700 million contract could have easily been higher if Ohtani had been healthy. He missed the final month of the season with an elbow injury that will keep him from pitching in 2024.
But if a player can hit 44 home runs and post a 1.066 OPS in less than 500 at-bats (on top of his previous exceptional seasons), he's worth a lot of money, even if he has to wait a year to get back on the mound.
Photo credit: Flickr.com / Mogami Kariya