Challenging the idea of what’s good for baseball
2 months ago
After much speculation and excitement, global superstar Shohei Ohtani finally announced his signing on his Instagram account last weekend — the Los Angeles Dodgers got the last laugh.
Hopes and dreams came crashing down in Toronto while those in Sunset Boulevard rejoiced in Ohtani’s choice to remain on the West Coast. There was no good reason for Ohtani to turn down a 10-year US$700 million contract from Los Angeles, and the script had already been rigged against the Toronto Blue Jays long before.
Ohtani will most definitely bring more people and marketing dollars to the West Coast. He’ll also add even more dimension to an already-potent Dodgers lineup. It’s hard to argue that the Dodgers are now the favourites to beat any odds. It’d almost be silly to bet against this mighty team after bringing in Ohtani, and the Dodgers are far from done regarding trades and free agency signings this offseason. Needless to say, the Dodgers will remain as the team to beat in the Major League Baseball while making every Dodger fan’s dream come true.
There’s no doubt that the Dodgers are a storied franchise. A franchise with a rich history of Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax and Vin Scully. Besides, the Dodgers have also actively established themselves as a savvy organization that invests in scouting and player development. Their solid system has brought many homegrown talents to their lineups and rotations. It was only a matter of time until every team in the league tried to emulate their formula.
It’s undeniable that the Dodgers having Ohtani will only make them into a much better team. However, claiming that Ohtani’s decision to join the Dodgers is better for all of us in baseball is nothing but a ludicrous statement. Being American isn’t the problem here — the problem here is that the idea woefully disregards the idea of everyone having an equal chance at winning the World Series.
Baseball gods have been notoriously merciless in the past decade when it comes to World Series champions. While some heavy favourites like the Houston Astros have won in the past, there have been major upsets, such as the Washington Nationals and the Kansas City Royals, who went on to beat all the odds against them. Will Ohtani help to boost the probability of the Dodgers winning the championship? Certainly. But will Ohtani guarantee a decade-worth of championship trophies? That’s hard to say because so many of the baseball playoff odds depend on randomness, too.
Being a traditional franchise that everyone around the world follows hasn’t factored into baseball gods’ decision-making for years. Tell us how far the Dodgers got this year with their star-studded lineup featuring Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. That’s right, they got brutally eliminated by the underdogs, the Arizona Diamondbacks. We can blame many issues that plagued the Dodgers’ playoff performances in 2023, but it won’t change the fact that the storied franchise failed to live up to the expectations.
Sure, the Dodgers are the most consistent and sustainable contenders – there’s no denying that at all. If that’s the measurement of success, the Dodgers have been achieving this goal for nearly ten years and Ohtani doesn’t add much value to that idea alone. Obviously, the Dodgers are hoping Ohtani will take them to the World Series every year, but solely relying on his superpower and stardom would be a mistake. Baseball is a team sport and if any part of the team underperforms at the wrong time, things can come tumbling down all too fast.
Let’s not forget that Ohtani just signed with the Dodgers, and even if it’s a mind-blowingly lucrative deal, he hasn’t had the chance to show what he can really offer yet – the 2024 season hasn’t even started, and there are a plethora of offseason moves we still have to wait for. It’s too early to say whether Ohtani’s tenure with Dodgers is bettering the baseball industry as a whole.
Don’t get me wrong, Ohtani signing any rewarding contract is a win for baseball – that’s not even in question. What’s wrong is calling Ohtani’s signing with the Dodgers the best thing to happen in the industry ever without having little to no results on how the Dodgers benefitted from this contract or how Ohtani transformed the Dodgers franchise. Haven’t we dealt with the wrath of baseball gods before? Concluding before anything happens practically invites a dangerous fate to play itself out.
No one should be making a statement about how Ohtani’s signing with the Dodgers is better for baseball, at least not yet. We don’t know what the 2024 season has in store for us and let’s not pretend like some of us are entitled to having a crystal ball that shows a century’s worth of future. Thank goodness for us, baseball gods always find ways for non-Dodgers (or non-Yankees) teams to make deep playoff runs. So, keep tempting fate by praising the Dodgers and try not to think about the possibility of the Dodgers still falling short even with all the stars.
And while we’re at it, let’s make this clear – Los Angeles has a big market, for sure, but let’s not pretend like Toronto is some random town in the middle of nowhere. It’s still best cities in North America and the potential of Ohtani playing for the Blue Jays isn’t some kind of death sentence.
Los Angeles isn’t the only way to bring baseball to life and grow the game. There are so many other ways — and it’s time to accept that.
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