Ippei Mizuhara guilty plea pursuit completely changes Shohei Ohtani gambling drama


Despite the fact that the Dodgers were the first team to 10 wins, the bottom of the lineup is picking itself up, and the top is continuing to rake, there's been an undeniable blight hanging over proceedings. On March 20, Shohei Ohtani's longtime interpreter and friend Ippei Mizuhara was fired over allegations of illegal sports betting and massive theft to the tune of $4.5 million from Ohtani.

Everyone and their mother has had opinions about the level of Ohtani's involvement in the whole affair, made more questionable by the fact that Mizuhara changed his story from claiming Ohtani had volunteered to help pay off his debts to saying that he'd lied and stolen the money, all before ESPN even had a chance to publish their bombshell article.

Ohtani has maintained his innocence and hasn't spoken on the issue publicly since a news conference a few days after the initial reports, and we've heard little from anyone else.

Now, there's movement. The New York Times reported on Wednesday night that Mizuhara was "in negotiations to plead guilty and that the investigation is racing toward a conclusion."

Ippei Mizuhara is "in negotiations to plead guilty" after Shohei Ohtani gambling scandal

Mizuhara has been under investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies — the IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California — for his involvement in a bookmaking operation led by Mathew Bowyer, who Mizuhara allegedly met at a poker game in 2021.

The Times also reported that the original figure of $4.5 million may be inaccurate, and authorities have evidence to believe that much more was taken from Ohtani's account without his knowledge, as there is also evidence that Mizuhara tampered with Ohtani's settings to make sure he wasn't notified when transactions were being made.

These developments seem to exonerate Ohtani, who MLB has also been conducting a separate investigation into that commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this week would be "short."

This story still seems far from over, but it might move a dark cloud or two away from Ohtani and the Dodgers for now. It clearly hasn't impacted the way he's been playing, but it's undoubtedly a reassuring revelation for Dodgers fans.