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Murph: The dream and nightmare of the Shohei Sweepstakes



© Gary A. Vasquez | 2021 Jun 22

It’s July 12.

Shohei Ohtani probably won’t select his next team until December, maybe.

What’s that, five long months away?

So, yeah, time feels about right for a “Dreams and Nightmares” Jock Blog about Shohei’s future, as I was just saying to my good friend Meek Mill. (He can comment because his squad, the Phillies, have never been mentioned as a serious suitor.)

It’s the All-Star Break, and the Shohei Sweepstakes are cranking up.

The crank-up was ratcheted when the passionate fans of Seattle began organically chanting “Come to Seattle!” during the Midsummer Classic, an impressive plea that caused small beads of sweat on Giants’ fans foreheads.

The dream in this scenario, of course, is Ohtani in orange and black in 2024.

Shohei the Giant. Shohei by the Bay. Shohei signing at Oracle Park around Christmastime, saying that growing up in Japan, he watched Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey and 40,000-plus in their black jackets and orange rally towels under the October lights and how Willie Mays wore this uniform and so did the very first Japanese player in MLB, Masanori Murakami, back in 1964 and how being in California fits him. Welcome to San Francisco, Shohei Ohtani.

There is a nightmare, though. And the sooner we acknowledge it, the sooner we can grapple with it.

Shohei the Dodger.

Shohei in blue. Shohei in Hollywood. Shohei signing the contract at the Jackie Robinson statue outside Dodger Stadium and saying how the glamour of the Dodger brand rippled across Japan in his youth and how Sandy Koufax wore this uniform and how L.A.’s massive stage and vast cultural diversity made it a no-brainer. Plus, he could live in Pacific Palisades and gaze at the ocean every morning in 75-degree weather. There’s that, too.

The dream. And the nightmare.

Which will it be?

I mean, there’s a third, neutral option and that’s for Shohei to stay an Angel. But with apologies to my afternoon compadre Tommy Tolbert . . . really? You think he’s staying in Anaheim after a half-decade in the no-October wilderness? Bro. 

There’s also the possibility of the Yankees, because they’re the Yankees. But every indication from those around the industry is, the kid from Japan likes the West Coast. Close to home, give or take an 11-hour flight. (In fact, the Giants can sell Shohei on the fact that a flight from SFO to Tokyo is about a half-hour shorter than an LAX-to-Tokyo flight. Sell it, Farhan!)

So which will it be, the dream or the nightmare? And should you even be stressing this, when it’s months away? Aren’t we supposed to stay in the present? But how can you stay in the present when Shohei might be a Dodger in the future?

These are the questions that cause insomnia, sports fans.

What can the Giants do to convince Shohei to be a Giant?

Real talk, they can offer money. Lots of it. The Giants’ payrolls in 2025 and 2026 are basically nothing right now. There is *PLENTY* of room for a $50 million AAV, 10 years even. 

They can offer Patrick Bailey. I’m not kidding. Shohei has to know that Bailey is already establishing himself as one of the best young catchers in the game, if not the best.

They can offer a youth movement. Bailey. Luis Matos. Casey Schmitt. Kyle Harrison. Carson Whisenhunt. Maybe even Reggie Crawford. Shohei would not be joining a wheezing group of geezers. He’d be joining a dynamic team on the rise.

They can offer a fan base far more engaged than the catatonic denizens of Orange County. When the Giants win, Third and King ripples with energy.

And for a throw-in, they can offer him a tour of Gabe Kapler’s damn-near erotic food porn clips on Instagram. Maybe Shohei will want to join the skip on a tour of JapanTown, looking for some “sneaky good” Japanese food. Deep pipes of Gabe, and all.

All right, maybe the last one was silly. That’s the Jock Blog for ya.

But Jon Heyman of MLB Network has identified the Giants as a top-3 candidate. MLB Network’s Chris Russo came on our show and said the same, even listing the Giants as a top-two.

That’s the dream.

The nightmare is, they both listed the Dodgers as Number One.

Dreams and nightmares. Smiles and cries. Welcome to life in the Shohei Sweepstakes, sports fans. We wish you all the best.