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Shohei Ohtani coping strategies

It might be a long decade...

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

No one is more adversely affected by Shohei Ohtani officially signing with the Dodgers than us San Francisco Giants fans. It is absolutely natural to perceive this decision as a slight. It was and is and will be for the next ten years personal. For such a raw time as this, any emotional parachute is fair game. No shame. No judgment. Seek comfort. Wrap yourself in thin arguments, line your shoes and stuff your shirt full of crumpled bits of half-baked logic—anything to keep warm and cope during these long cold days ahead.

Deny. The first stage in grief, and it’s first because it’s damn easy and damn comfortable. Don’t check Twitter. Don’t open the MLB app and for the love of god turn off their push notifications. Go incognito for a bit. Carry on as if it never happened.

What never happened?

Take the moral high ground. I did this with my father in law who’s an LA fan. To get ahead of the narrative, I texted him a clip of Darth Vader arriving in the Death Star hangar, John Williams’s Imperial March on full blast, when I heard the news. Ohtani to LA = Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. The rise of the LA spells disaster for the galaxy—and of course the not so subtle allusion to the Yankee empire of the late 90’s/early aughts. No upstanding citizen wants to root for those pinstripe goons. Maybe the Star Wars comparison is overused (guilty), but it does allow you to coddle yourself with notions of the Giants being a rebel force, an agent of good and hope and justice. Luis Gonzalez’s proton torpedo floating over Jeter’s head at short…a weakly hit flare in the Arizona night…barely reaching the outfield grass…BOOM!

Dismiss the whole thing. Now with your moral altitude, you can see this whole thing as the charade it is. A soulless transaction of goods. Money. Stupid, dirty money. Who cares if you would’ve paid more—you didn’t—and your consolation prize is you can pretend like the whole business is just disgusting, foul, tainted. I guess anyone with a checkbook could buy a championship.

Promote aesthetics. Ohtani with Betts and Freeman and Will Smith and Max Muncy…it’s just an embarrassment of riches. Gold toilet level of bad taste. And so boring. I thought Ohtani might not be boring, but he ended up just being boring—a basic, boring baseball player who chose the most obvious team to be boringly good on.

Fall back on the classics. We got about ten months of legitimate claims to the Dodgers in recent years being one of the most disappointing franchises in baseball. How many division titles have you won in the past ten years? And how many World Series have you won? Mocking their postseason implosions is valid until next October so pile it on.

Belittle his achievements. It probably won’t get you far in public discourse, but when you’re all alone, sprawled on your bed and screaming into a pillow, have had it! He’s just a designated hitter! He’s a marketing ploy who’s somewhat decent on-field performance is propped up by hype! If StatCast didn’t exist no one would care. His career high 184 OPS+ last season is two points higher than Barry Bonds career average, and Bonds struck out 100 times in a season only once and that was his rookie year, and everyone’s just drinking the WAR Kool-Aid, and what even is WAR anyway? And he allowed 18 home runs last year—take that away from his own total of 44 and that’s 26, which would’ve led the Giants last year by 3, sure, but it’s not impressive.

Distract yourself. Here’s a link to Barry Bonds’ Baseball Reference page.

Flex indifference. My friend texted me a day after the news broke: “Ohtani to the dodgers”, and said he just heard it from an elderly woman at a flea market. He went on to write “get Mike Trout over there too.” This guy is a contrarian to the core—but it’s genuine. This article is not for people like him because they’ve never had an instance in which he has needed to “cope”. It’s not numbness or stubbornness—it’s operating on a higher spiritual plane, untouched by the menial quibbles of our physical realm. Ohtani going to LA only confirms everything we already knew about Ohtani, about LA, about the world. Equilibrium is maintained.

Question his health. A UCL surgery this season mysteriously not labeled as “Tommy John ‘’, which would be his second. And he’s already missed one year (2019) on the mound and he’ll miss another next season, and he’s had knee surgery and he’s turning 30 next year which is like turning 75 if you’re a professional athlete. His throwing arm will be held up by popsicle sticks and medical tape by the time his contract is up.

Cast aspersions. Ohtani’s historic contract deferrals have nothing to do with his team-oriented mindset—it’s just a good ol’ tax dodge, America’s favorite pastime. The rich keep their money as we continue to marvel and praise their ingenuity while paying for it. As a former student of California public schools, I’m offended.

Revel in the future, no matter how distant. LA will be paying Ohtani $68 million for ten years after his contract expires. Financially burdened by an empty pair of spikes. 2034 is going to be the Giants year!