John Schneider comments on Ohtani controversy from the off-season
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John Schneider comments on Ohtani controversy from the off-season

Published April 26, 2024 at 3:11 PM

As the Dodgers' series in Washington concluded on Thursday, all eyes turned to Shohei Ohtani, who was aboard the flight headed to Toronto. This weekend series has been eagerly anticipated by Blue Jays fans ever since Ohtani transitioned from being the next great hope of the franchise to the one that slipped away.

"Did he sign there?" joked Blue Jays manager John Schneider on Wednesday

While the heartbreak remains palpable, it's evident that there's no animosity or ill will lingering.

"No. If anything, just tell him we want our Blue Jays hat back that he took with him after our meeting," Schneider quipped.

The Ohtani saga unfolded gradually in the early days of the last offseason before reaching a crescendo during one of the most peculiar weeks in Blue Jays history. It's unlikely that there will ever be another pursuit quite like it. Respecting Ohtani's desire for confidentiality, the Blue Jays delicately navigated around the unspoken topic, resulting in a memorable incident at the 2023 Winter Meetings in Nashville, where Ross Atkins' in-person media session was abruptly shifted to a Zoom video call.

On December 8, chaos ensued following erroneous reports that Ohtani had reached an agreement with the Blue Jays and was on a flight to Toronto. Suddenly, the eyes of a nation of baseball fans were glued to online flight trackers. Some fans even gathered in the vicinity of Toronto's Pearson International Airport, timing their presence to watch the plane fly overhead as it passed. Atkins, seated before a nondescript white backdrop, remained tight-lipped about his whereabouts, fueling speculation as he courted Ohtani, the brightest star in the sport.

"I was just following the news. I knew I wasn't on that flight, so I was curious too," Ohtani said Wednesday through interpreter Will Ireton.

The following morning, Ohtani shattered the anticipation with an Instagram post, asserting full control over his league-altering decision. He revealed that he would be signing with the Dodgers, making headlines with a record-breaking 10-year, $700 million deal, the richest in baseball history by a significant margin.

"In regards to the offseason, I was as surprised as any fans, in terms of the news that was going around," Ohtani said. "But I did meet with the Blue Jays organization. And the impression that I got was it was a really, really great organization. The fans are really good. The city, too. So I'm really looking forward to going to Toronto."

While both teams are saying the right things ahead of the series, the impact of Ohtani's decision lingers and will continue to do so for years. This pivotal moment altered the trajectory of both franchises, but the disappointment felt by fans may be palpable when Ohtani steps up to the plate for the first time at Rogers Centre.

"It might be a little different," Schneider said. "Especially with those 12 or 24 hours in Toronto in December. Hopefully they give it to him a little bit, but man, he's a hell of a player. He's a great player. You don't like watching him from the other dugout, but you have to appreciate how good he is. It will be interesting to see how the fans welcome him."

Schneider emphasized the undeniable brilliance of Ohtani's performance in his 27 games this season with the Dodgers. Currently ranking third in the Majors in OPS (1.109) and batting average (.358), he's also notched an impressive 14 doubles, five more than any other player in the league.

In every aspect, Ohtani has proven himself worthy of the hype. In a remarkably short period, he's validated the Dodgers' decision to invest in him with a staggering $700 million deal this past winter. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, this weekend may serve as a poignant reminder of the tumultuous saga surrounding Ohtani's decision back in December.

Source : Rumors, drama squarely in the past as Ohtani, Dodgers head to Toronto
April 26   |   101 answers
John Schneider comments on Ohtani controversy from the off-season

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