MLB Insider's controversial column after Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani signing deserves scrutiny

Jon Heyman, it might be time to log off.

Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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Since Shohei Ohtani announced his signing with the Dodgers on Sunday, baseball insiders and pundits have been engaged in something of a passive-aggressive Cold War, with some calling on their kind to do better (without acknowledging the confusion they can cause themselves), and others sort of taking accountability for jumping the gun on their reporting.

The New York Post's Jon Heyman entered that fray in his own way, with a column following up on Ohtani's choice of the Dodgers. He starts with a wade into already-controversial territory — was the secrecy surrounding Ohtani's free agency good or bad? Was the chaos it caused among sports reporters, in some cases perhaps irreparably damaging the connections of a few, good or bad? Heyman comes down on the side of "good," emphasizing not Ohtani's right to privacy, but his decision to chose the Dodgers over the Blue Jays.

Now, we could go into how this was something of a non-sequitur on Heyman's part, trying and failing to tie in a preexisting argument to hook readers for his even hotter follow-up take, but it's the follow-up that deserves more criticism. Heyman writes that Ohtani to the Dodgers is better for baseball because is a more "storied franchise," there's a "small-time feel" to Toronto for non-hockey sports, and Ohtani "needs to live," outside of the game.

Jon Heyman infuriates MLB fans with a nonsense take on Shohei Ohtani's signing

There's no doubt that the Dodgers are, as Heyman puts it, "long favored, consistently excellent and historically relevant." It's true that, as he notes, Mookie Betts, Ohtani, and Freddie Freeman as a 1-2-3 in any lineup will strike fear into the heart of any pitcher the Dodgers come across. It's true that in Los Angeles, a baseball franchise with international salience and renown second only to the Yankees, Ohtani will have many, many eyes on him next season.

Ohtani to the Dodgers is a fantastic thing for Dodgers fans, for the team and, yes, even for the game, as Heyman argues. But was it really necessary on Heyman's part to publish an article kicking the Blue Jays' fanbase while they're down, not only unnecessarily trashing the city of Toronto and its fans by implying that Ohtani couldn't live there because it was inferior to Los Angeles, that he couldn't succeed with the existing fanbase or deserved a better one than Toronto could give, and that ending up with an American team was just better overall? Oh, and while also implying that the Blue Jays don't have a history?

Setting aside the power of the Dodgers franchise itself for a second, Ohtani himself is a force. He could've gone to the Oakland Athletics and it would've made the A's one the most watched teams in baseball. He could've gone back to Japan and the entirety of his American fanbase would've followed him there. He could've gone to the Jays and it could've helped expansion efforts in Canada down the line.

It feels irresponsible to push an argument that implies American baseball is the best kind of baseball when not only is MLB attempting to become a more international game every year (see: the four international series slated for next year), but fans and players clearly want it to be (see: the World Baseball Classic).

Reactions from Blue Jays fans have been appropriately negative, with even Blue Jays' pitcher Kevin Gausman jumping in to subtweet Heyman.

This is by no means a reprimand of Dodgers fans who are happy about Ohtani's signing. Of course we're happy, of course we should be. It just makes little, if perhaps zero, sense for a New York-based writer to take at shot at the Blue Jays seemingly on the Dodgers' behalf. The Dodgers are lucky to have Ohtani, who could've gone anywhere and made the franchise he chose better on his own merit, and that should be that.

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