Empty Angel Stadium for Shohei Ohtani start shows he deserves better (Dodgers)

Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Angels
Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Angels / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

Shohei Ohtani has a difficult choice to make this offseason, once the world of free agency finally opens up to him six years after he signed on with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Dodgers? Their choice is easier. Clear the payroll. Move money around. Make a player or two disappear, if you have to. Just make sure you have the most cash available for Ohtani, and get it done.

Luckily, the Dodgers don't really have to sell themselves. They're an iconic franchise that competes for a championship annually. Their budding rivalry with the Padres packs the park, and their long-standing feud with the Giants remains a hot ticket. When the Dodgers travel, people pay money specifically to see them.

The Angels? Pending a rapid reversal of fortune, they're still a tick or two behind the top-tier teams in Ohtani's final season under contract.

And the fan support? It's waning. Sports personality Rich Eisen latched onto Dodgers writer Molly Knight's tweet this week about her travels to Anaheim to see Ohtani, and the depressingly-empty stands said more than words ever could.

Dodgers fans would never leave stadium as empty as Angels fans did for Shohei Ohtani

This is a potential once-in-a-lifetime athletic marvel. Mike Trout is great. He might've put up the best 20s of any hitter across MLB's lenghty history. He cannot do what Ohtani can do.

If you can't make it out for what seems like a finite opportunity to see Ohtani pitch and mash in the same home game, this early in the season, when hope still springs eternal, then we don't know what else to say. If the Angels fan base can't find it in their hearts to be strong enough to support this man from first pitch, then he should seek other opportunities.

Despite Arte Moreno's last-second pivot and return to the owner's box, most insiders still consider the Angels to be an afterthought, and for Ohtani's departure to the Dodgers, Mets or Padres to be a foregone conclusion. His next contract will almost certainly begin with a "5"; the only remaining questions are who doles it out, and how close to a "6" does it get?

Wherever he lands, you can bet that his April appearances will be quite a bit more packed than this sad Monday at the Big A.