Developing Dodgers Shohei Ohtani story gives the Cardinals a chance to start strong

The Dodgers season has gone awry after allegations of gambling and theft. The Cardinals need to take advantage and win games early.
2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Masterpress/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals need to start the 2024 season strong. That much is clear. Avoiding an early season slide will help them dodge the fate they suffered in 2023. However, with the first five series of 2024 starting against the Dodgers, Padres, Marlins, Phillies, and Diamondbacks, it won't be easy for Oli Marmol's club. The odds are stacked against the Cardinals to start the season. Or are they?

The Cardinals' first opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, had a historic offseason and spent over $1 billion in guaranteed money to Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, and others. All eyes are on LA's new core to start the season, and the "midwestern farmers" seem to be just an afterthought. But now, all eyes are on the Dodgers, and for all the wrong reasons.

In a shocking development, the Dodgers fired Shohei Ohtani's interpreter Ippei Mizhuara after alleged "massive theft" from Ohtani's bank account involving wire transfers to an illegal bookmaker in California. Ohtani's involvement in this scandal is unclear as conflicting stories have surfaced regarding his knowledge of the interpreter's alleged gambling endeavors. MLB has opened its own investigation into the allegations as fans anxiously await details of what really happened.

Regardless of the legal implications, this is a worst-case scenario for the Dodgers as media and reporters scramble to decipher the truth behind the allegations. Dave Roberts and the Dodgers' players will never admit this, of course, but these rumors will undoubtedly have an impact on the clubhouse atmosphere and the overall play of the team.

Ohtani especially will be affected by this controversy as he and Mizuhara have been close friends since 2013 and have been inseparable ever since. Combined with Yoshinobu Yamamoto's slow start to his Major League career, there's no better time for the Cardinals to face off against the Dodgers, as St. Louis will need every advantage to gain the upper hand.

With all the media speculation and turmoil surrounding this team, the Dodgers might not be at their best to open the season, and the Cardinals must take advantage. The Cardinals are facing multiple injuries headed into Los Angeles, with Sonny Gray and Lars Nootbaar starting on the IL, so luck is already against them. If the Dodgers super-team is in turmoil, it will level the playing field a bit for the Cardinals. Opening the season strong may be the difference between another disaster season and a return to form in a make-or-break year for the organization.