Why Shohei Ohtani’s press conference wasn’t as much of a nothing-burger as you think

Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The developments of Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani addressing the gambling debt controversy that has rocked baseball over the last week have shrouded the entire situation with mystery. And the general sentiment coming out of his Monday press conference, one in which he did not answer questions but instead read a prepared statement, was that he didn't offer much more clarity.

To be quite sure, we didn't learn that much. The majority of what Ohtani said -- and that was translated by new interpreter, Will Ireton -- simply reiterated reports that were already out there from Ohtani's camp. Former translator Ippei Mizuhara stole $4.5 million to pay off a gambling debt from an illegal bookmaker, Ohtani had no knowledge of these dealings, and he was shocked that a close friend would do that to him.

However, the manner in which Ohtani addressed all of this may actually hold more water than people realize.

Rob Friedman, better known as Pitching Ninja on social media, broke down the situation from a legal perspective. Ohtani flat-out accused Ippei Mizuhara of stealing from him while denying his involvement. As such, the decision to levy those accusations on his former translator, if he weren't being truthful, would open him up to libel or a number of other potential instances of criminal or civil litigation.

Shohei Ohtani's definitive statements in press conference do mean something

Friedman wasn't alone in that sentiment as Craig Calcaterra of Cup of Coffee reiterated that Ohtani's statement, if untrue, would be a massive risk for the Dodgers star.

Of course, that doesn't wholly guarantee that Ohtani is telling the truth about Mizuhara stealing money from him. It wouldn't be the first time that a high-profile figure has lied in order to protect their image. However, the inherent risks in positioning himself and his camp with this stance of how the events transpired does lend itself to the idea that he's telling the truth being more likely.

Make no mistake, so much of this situation is still clouded by the unknowns. And Ohtani undoubtedly made things worse by not fielding questions about the scandal, which leaves fans and analysts alike with more questions than ever.

At the same time, though, there has to be some objective credence given to what has happened. Ohtani didn't get up to the podium and categorically deny his involvement; he pointed the finger definitively at his former translator. That means something, even if the initial reaction to the press conference might've been that he said nothing new at all.

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