MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Feb 16, 2023; Dunedin, FL, USA; Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media at the Grapefruit League Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

While it took Craig Carton a moment to realize that any suspension regarding Shohei Ohtani would have to be at the commissioner’s discretion, Rob Manfred has a real dilemma on his hands.

This all started Wednesday when the Los Angeles Dodgers fired Ohtani’s longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. That came after Mizuhara was accused by the MLB star’s attorneys of “massive theft” allegedly linked to gambling.

Ohtani’s interpreter’s dismissal has raised questions about the star player’s possible connection to a gambling scandal and the potential impact on his career. While his team insists he’s the victim of theft, the situation casts a shadow over Major League Baseball, particularly Manfred. This is especially true considering Ohtani’s immense popularity and MLB’s recent embrace of gambling partnerships.

On Friday’s Unsportsmanlike Radio with Evan Cohen, Chris Canty, and Michelle Smallmon, the latter argued that this situation is Commissioner Manfred’s worst nightmare. Even though Ohtani likely won’t face punishment and the accusations are complex, public perception has already been shaped, and it will be a major challenge for Manfred to repair the damage.

“This feels like a Mad Libs of Rob Manfred’s worst nightmare,” said Smallmon. “Like, if you had to fill in the blanks of which player would be involved in what scandal, I would imagine that ‘Ohtani,’ and ‘gambling,’ and ‘scandal’ are the three words that he would never want to put in the same sentence. This is his actual nightmare. You have all of this goodwill that you’ve garnered if you’re Rob Manfred for the changes you’ve made in the game.

“And after all this activity with the Dodgers, where they acquire all these stars, they’re gonna be the talk of your sport. Your sport is going to get national recognition because of this team and mainly because of this player—national and international recognition. And then he’s involved in a scandal. And not only a scandal but a gambling scandal? This is literally Rob Manfred’s worst nightmare.”

[Unsportmanlike Radio on Twitter/X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.