As far as we know, Shohei Ohtani did not agree to a deal with an MLB team on Friday.
The most anticipated free agency in recent memory reached fever pitch over the weekend, as MLB fans spent an entire day believing Ohtani was about to land with the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a very confusing day full of misinformation and conflicting reports.
Fans and many MLB free agents have waited weeks for Ohtani to sign what is expected to be the largest contract in league history. The Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Angels were all mentioned to be finalists earlier in the week, but they all exited the Winter Meetings without reaching an agreement with Ohtani.
So fans made their own treat. Here’s our best attempt at putting together a timeline of how the day will go.
8:39 AM ET: Ohtani’s decision is reportedly imminent
Friday’s confusion doesn’t happen without some preliminary, and it came courtesy of MLB Network reporter John Morosi.
Morosi tweeted Friday morning that Ohtani’s decision was imminent, and reports would likely arrive that day.
some Observers He noted that Friday was the sixth anniversary of Ohtani deciding to sign with the Los Angeles Angels in his first foray into the MLB, which added some weight to the idea that the day was special. At the very least, this reinforced the idea that Ohtani’s timeline for this decision could be similar.
Blue Jays fans start tracking flights
The Blue Jays became the team to watch shortly after Morosi’s report, as many fans noted on social media Private trip It was scheduled to take off from John Wayne Airport near Anaheim that morning and land in Toronto that afternoon.
More than 4000 people He reportedly began following Public flight tracker, making it the most followed flight on FlightAware.
This is familiar behavior to anyone who follows college football closely. In this sport, coaches who leave for other schools are often tracked down from local airports and are sometimes greeted by fans at their destinations.
9:42 a.m.: The opera singer says Yusei Kikuchi has rented a sushi restaurant
This is where we really hit silly season.
An account purporting to be an opera singer claimed that Blue Jays outfielder Yusei Kikuchi had fully booked a sushi restaurant near Rogers Center, almost as if he was planning to celebrate a big occasion for the team.
– Clarence Frazer (@clarencefrazer) December 8, 2023
This report was not supported by evidence at all, but it had the kind of specificity that made you wonder why anyone would make it up. It received over 1,000 retweets as the day progressed.
1:53 p.m.: Veteran Dodgers reporter says they’re the Blue Jays
That’s when Ohtani’s line to Toronto (Sho-eh? Sho-Jay?) crossed the point of no return. Random fan speculation is one thing, but J.P. Hoornstra is a veteran reporter who has covered the Dodgers for more than a decade and a half with the Southern California News Group.
Now writing with Dodgers Nation, Hoornstra It was reported that Ohtani selected the Blue JaysQuoted from “multiple sources”.
2:03 PM: Not so fast, buddy
It took about 10 minutes for someone to throw cold water on the report.
Sportsnet reporter Ben Nicholson-Smith tweeted that Ohtani had not made a decision and that there was no timetable for a decision, directly contradicting reports by Hoornstra and Morosi. Nicholson-Smith reiterated that the Blue Jays remain the Phenom’s final position.
-Ben Nicholson Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 8, 2023
ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez She mentioned the same thing minutes later.
At this point, it was hard not to see some of the gameplay here. It’s possible that Hoornstra was wrong, yes, but it also seems possible that he was right and the Blue Jays and Ohtani were in complete denial mode because teams often want to control an AD when he’s as big as Ohtani.
4:01 p.m.: Morosi says Ohtani is on his way to Toronto
The uproar escalated again hours later, when Morosi returned to the fray to announce that Ohtani was on his way to Toronto — but without a signed agreement.
Sources: Shohei Ohtani is on his way to Toronto today.
A representative for his agency, CAA, did not comment when asked about Ohtani’s travel plans.
– John Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 8, 2023
It was around this point that misinformation really started to spread. several Accounts With blue check marks, a video was posted on Twitter of Ohtani allegedly arriving in Toronto, while Original poster He claimed it showed his arrival at Anaheim Airport. There was a Christmas tree in the background, but the video was not from Friday.
5:11 p.m.: Ohtani is not on his way to Toronto
At least five reporters quickly tweeted that Ohtani was not heading to Canada and remained in Southern California, including USA Today Bob Nightingale, Athlete Jim Bowden, Nicholson Smith, New York Post’s John Heyman And Orange County Recorder Jeff Fletcher.
It was the full Friends series finale: Ohtani wasn’t on the plane.
5:54 PM: We find out who was on the plane
An interesting little footnote arrived from CBC News’ Devin Heroux, who reported that his outlet’s photographer was at Toronto Pearson International Airport and confirmed that Ohtani was not a passenger on that widely watched private jet.
Instead, it was Canadian businessman Robert Herjavec, widely known as the host of the TV series “Shark Tank.” Yes, really.
CBC photographer Evan Mitsui is texting me from Pearson Airport right now.
It confirms new reports that Ohtani was not on the private plane.
The plane was actually carrying Canadian businessman Robert Herjavec and his family.
– Devin Heroux (@Devin_Heroux) December 8, 2023
Herjavec at least had a sense of humor about the slow-motion incident that unfolded around him, posting that he was indeed signing with the Blue Jays on Instagram.
11:05 pm: Morosi apologizes
Morosi bowed out that day by posting an apology for the “inaccurate information” that Ohtani was on his way to Toronto. The tweet remains uploaded.
Today I published a report with inaccurate information that Shohei Ohtani was traveling to Toronto. I regret the mistake and apologize to baseball fans everywhere. I’m so sorry for letting you down.
– John Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 9, 2023
There was a lot to learn on Friday — from the dangers of confirmation bias to the importance of waiting for multiple reliable sources and flight tracking mechanisms. What we haven’t learned, at least for now, is where Ohtani will sign.
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