Shohei Ohtani’s gag order was always doomed to fail


If you’re not an avid follower of sports Twitter, you might not be aware of the current frenzy surrounding MLB free agent Shohei Ohtani and his decision on which baseball team to choose. For those of us trapped in the bubble, we find ourselves constantly refreshing social media accounts for any updates on Ohtani’s decision. The Winter Meetings, a time when baseball fans eagerly await news about their favorite players and teams, has become a desperate search for any signs of Ohtani’s next move.

As a dedicated member of Cubs Twitter since 2008, I can attest to the excitement and anxiety that comes with waiting for important news about our team. I remember the shock of finding out that the Cubs had signed Alfonso Soriano to a 7-year deal, which seemed insane at the time. I also recall the heartbreak when the entire core of the 2016 World Series team was traded away, leaving us to wonder if one championship was enough for the owners.

But now, all eyes are on Shohei Ohtani, as he flirts with multiple MLB teams in secret. Some media members have caught glimpses of his interactions, but it wasn’t until Buster Olney’s ESPN column that the secrecy surrounding Ohtani’s decision became apparent. Olney describes the negotiations as being handled like a “secret spy swap,” with threats and warnings preventing club executives from discussing their efforts to sign the talented player. Ohtani’s camp has even warned that public reports from teams about their meetings will be held against them in his decision-making process.

While some beat writers have expressed frustration over the lack of information, it’s important to remember that the first big free-agent signing usually sets off a chain reaction of signings. Ohtani is the biggest domino of all, and until he signs, teams will be forced to look elsewhere for a big bat and starting pitcher.

Despite the secrecy, information about Ohtani has leaked out, thanks to individuals like Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who openly discussed Ohtani being their top offseason priority. This caused some discomfort for GM Brandon Gomes, but Roberts defended his honesty, stating that he doesn’t lie. While it may not be surprising to hear that the Dodgers are interested in Ohtani, it’s still significant news.

Others have speculated on the teams Ohtani is considering, with the Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Cubs, and Mariners among the speculated options. The fact that Ohtani is meeting with teams on the West Coast isn’t surprising, given his desire to stay in that region. However, the secrecy surrounding the process seems unrealistic, considering the media frenzy that surrounds the Winter Meetings. With cameras and digital recorders in the faces of team representatives, it was only a matter of time before details leaked out.

If Ohtani is using leaks to the media as part of his criteria for choosing a team, it’s his right. However, it seems shortsighted and potentially harmful to teams like the Dodgers, who appear to meet all of Ohtani’s reported criteria. The desire for secrecy could be a test to see which team honors his request or a way to protect his private life. Regardless of the reason, it was never going to work in an environment like the Winter Meetings, where reporters are constantly searching for any information they can find.

In the end, the public was always going to find out which teams Ohtani was considering. The fishbowl nature of the Winter Meetings and the presence of reporters make it nearly impossible to keep such information under wraps. While Ohtani’s desire for secrecy is understandable, it’s important to remember that the world of sports Twitter will always find a way to uncover the truth.

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