As far as we know, Shohei Ohtani did not agree to a contract with the MLB team on Friday.
The most anticipated free agency in recent memory hit a fever pitch over the weekend, with MLB fans spending all day thinking Ohtani was going to land with the Toronto Blue Jays. A day of great confusion, full of misinformation and conflicting reports.
Fans and many MLB free agents have been waiting weeks 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 all reported They were supposed to be finalists earlier in the week, but they all came out of the winter meetings without a deal for Ohtani.
So fans amused themselves. Here’s our best attempt at assembling a timeline of how the day played out.
8:39 am ET: Ohtani’s decision has been announced as imminent
Friday’s mayhem didn’t happen without some priming, and that came courtesy of MLB Network reporter John Morosi.
Morosi tweeted Friday morning that Ohtani’s decision was imminent, and reports could come as soon as that day.
Some Visitors Friday marked the six-year anniversary of Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Los Angeles Angels in his first outing in the MLB, adding some weight to the idea that the day was special. At the very least, this decision reinforced the idea that Ohtani’s timeline might be similar.
Blue Jays fans start flight tracking
As many fans noticed on social media, after Morosi’s statement, the Blue Jays quickly became the team to follow A private plane It was scheduled to take off from John Wayne Airport near Anaheim that morning and land in Toronto that afternoon.
More than 4,000 people is said to have started to follow That public flight tracker is the most followed flight on FlightAware.
It’s familiar behavior to anyone who follows college football closely. In that game, coaches departing for other schools are often escorted from local airports and sometimes greeted by fans at their destinations.
9:42 am: An opera singer says Yusei Kikuchi has rented a sushi restaurant
This is where we hit the really silly season.
One account, purportedly from an opera singer, said Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi reserved an entire sushi restaurant near Rogers Center, almost as if he were planning a big event for the team.
— Clarence Frazer (@clarencefrazer) December 8, 2023
The statement was completely unsubstantiated, but had the kind of specificity that makes you wonder why anyone would make it. Over 1,000 retweets were received as the day progressed.
1:53 p.m.: A veteran Dodgers reporter says it’s the Blue Jays
Ohtani-to-Toronto (SHOW-eh? SHOW-j?) is the point of no return. Random fan speculation is one thing, but JP Hoornstra is a veteran reporter who has covered the Dodgers for more than a decade and a half at a Southern California news team.
Now writing with Dodgers Nation, Hoornstra Ohtani announced that he chose the Blue JaysCiting “multiple sources”.
2:03 pm: Not so fast mate
It took about 10 minutes for someone to throw cold water on the report.
Sportsnet reporter Ben Nicholson-Smith tweeted a direct denial of Hoornstra and Morosi’s statements, saying Ohtani had not made a decision and there was no timeline for a decision. Nicholson-Smith reiterated that the Blue Jays were the finalists for the event.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 8, 2023
ESPN Alton Gonzalez A few minutes later he reported the same.
At this point, it was hard not to see some playfulness here. Hoornstra could have been wrong, yes, but it appeared he was right and the Blue Jays and Ohtani were in full denial mode, as teams often prefer to contain the announcement when it’s as big as Ohtani’s.
4:01pm: Morosi says Ohtani is on his way to Toronto
A few hours later, when Morosi jumped back on the bandwagon saying Ohtani was headed to Toronto, but without a signed contract, there was renewed excitement.
Sources: Shohei Ohtani is on his way to Toronto today.
A representative of his agency, CAA, did not comment when asked about Ohtani’s travel plans.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 8, 2023
It was at this point that misinformation really started to spread. Many Accounts Tweeted video with blue checkmarks saying Ohtani has arrived in Toronto Original poster He said he showed up at the airport in Anaheim. There was a Christmas tree in the background, but the video wasn’t Friday.
5:11 p.m.: Ohtani is not on his way to Toronto
No less than five reporters soon tweeted that Ohtani had not traveled to Canada and was staying in Southern California. USA TODAY’S BOB NIGHTENGALE, Athlete Jim Bowden, Nicholson-Smith, Jon Heyman of the New York Post And Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
It’s the full “Friends” finale: Ohtani isn’t on the plane.
5:54 pm: We have located the occupants of the plane
A funny little footnote came from CBC News’ Devin Heroux, who confirmed that his outlet’s photographer was at Toronto Pearson International Airport and that Ohtani was not a passenger on the widely followed private jet.
Instead, Canadian businessman Robert Herjavec, best known as the host of the television series “Shark Tank,” was hired. Yes indeed.
Our CBC photographer Evan Mitsui is texting me from Pearson Airport.
He confirmed new reports that Ohtani was not on a private jet.
It was actually with 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 accident around him, posting on Instagram that he would sign with the Blue Jays.
11:05 pm: Morosi apologizes
Morosi took a bow that day, apologizing for the “misinformation” that Ohtani was headed to Toronto. The tweet remains the same.
Today, I posted a report that included false information that Shohei Ohtani was traveling to Toronto. I regret the mistake and apologize to baseball fans everywhere. I am so sorry for letting you down.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 9, 2023
There’s a lot to learn on Friday — from the dangers of confirmation bias to the mechanics of flight tracking to the importance of waiting for multiple reliable sources. What we haven’t learned, at least for now, is where Ohtani will sign.
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