More Ohtani connections

Major League Baseball (MLB) has launched an investigation into allegations of illegal betting by David Fletcher, a former Los Angeles Angel now playing for the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A squad. Specifically, ESPN has reported that David Fletcher bet on sports with Mathew Bowyer, the illegal bookie who took millions in bets from Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. Mizuhara stole $17 million from Ohtani, then with the Angels, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fletcher played on the Angels with Ohtani from 2018 to 2023 and was reportedly very close to the other-worldly pitching and slugging superstar. ESPN’s sources say that Fletcher did not place bets on baseball.

“We’re good friends,” Fletcher told ESPN about he and Ohtani in March. “We would talk on the bus and at the hotel.”

Also in that March interview, Fletcher admitted to knowing who Bowyer was, but did not say that he himself bet with him at all (and why would he). He said he was at a 2021 poker game at the team hotel at which Bowyer and Mizuhara met, though he did not introduce them. Bowyer got into the game through an “acquaintance” of Fletcher. Fletcher said he officially met Bowyer once and did know he was a bookie.

The federal complaint against Mizuhara says that Bowyer sent Mizuhara’s wire information to someone listed as “Bookmaker 3.” ESPN’s sources say that “Bookmaker 3” is Colby Schultz, who played in the Kansas City Royals’ minor league system from 2018 to 2020 and is one of Fletcher’s best friends.

Schultz allegedly placed bets not only on baseball, but on Angels games in which Fletcher participated.

Crime versus punishment

MLB rules state that players are permitted to gamble on other sports, but only through legal channels. If Fletcher is found to have, in fact, bet illegally with Bowyer, his punishment would be up to the league. Those who bet on baseball, but not on their own team’s games, are subject to a one-year suspension. Anyone who gambles on their own team’s games, whether for or against their organization, is banned for life.

ESPN said that right now, MLB does not have any evidence that either Fletcher or Schultz did anything wrong, other than ESPN’s report.

“Government cooperation will be crucial in a case like this where we don’t have evidence,” an MLB source told ESPN.

The league will naturally look to interview Fletcher, but if he can claim he could be the subject of a criminal investigation, he would have the right to refuse.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *