News of a private jet flying from Anaheim, California to Toronto, Ontario on Friday sparked a firestorm of rumours that the best baseball player in the world, Shohei Ohtani, was going to join the Toronto Blue Jays. This caused hundreds of Canadian sports bettors and other punters in North America to bet on the Blue Jays and Ohtani’s future move. We now know that all of these bets were probably bad decisions.
Ohtani announced just one day later that he had signed a massive $700 million USD contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- The news that Ohtani might be flying to Toronto caused a massive influx of bets.
- BetMGM reported that nearly 85% of all World Series wagers on Friday were bets on the Blue Jays to win it.
- Ohtani signed a record-breaking 10-year deal with the Dodgers worth $700 million USD.
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Background on the Ohtani move
This weekend was one of the most hectic in the history of baseball free agency. After months of silence from clubs, executives, managers, and player agents, rumours exploded onto the scene early on Friday that Shohei Ohtani was going to be a Toronto Blue Jay.
What caused this explosion of news about the best baseball player in the world? Fans spotted a private plane taking an unusual trip from Anaheim, California to Toronto, Ontario. This caused wild speculation that Ohtani was on that jet and that he was going to be a Blue Jay.
MLB reporters boosted these underground rumours and gave them major legitimacy. Reports came out from virtually every top MLB reporter about concrete interest from the Blue Jays and Otani and about meetings between them in the past. In just a few short hours on Friday, a speculative rumour about a private jet turned into a full on, credible news story.
Chaos at Canadian sports betting sites
The news that Ohtani might be flying to Toronto caused a massive influx of bets. PointsBets Canada, one of the biggest sports betting sites in Ontario, reported a “notable influx” of bets on the Blue Jays to win the World Series. BetMGM reported that nearly 85% of all World Series wagers on Friday were bets on the Blue Jays to win it.
Eric Biggio, the leading baseball trader at Caesars Sportsbook, told ESPN that “There were some pretty respected players that were betting the Blue Jays,” meaning that even the professional and top level sports bettors were fooled by the private jet rumours. Biggio later summed up the day as a “soap opera.” A bookmaker in Las Vegas said simply “Friday was a really crazy day.”
Pointsbet Canada senior director of communications, Patrick Eichner, did his best to explain the baseball betting frenzy on Friday, saying “the betting action was really driven by the full-blown excitement versus the opportunity to win some cash down the road.” Like most bets driven by excitement and nothing else, they ended up being a bad bet.
We now know that Shohei Ohtani will not be a Toronto Blue Jay. Not next season at least, and probably not for the next several seasons. Ohtani signed a record-breaking 10-year deal with the Dodgers worth $700 million USD. After this move was announced on Saturday, many bettors regretted their Friday bets on the Blue Jays.
According to PointsBet Canada, several Blue Jays bettors cut their losses and cashed out early on their Blue Jays to win the World Series bets. However, while Blue Jays fans were down, some bettors were still high on the Ohtani hype. Bets on the Dodgers to win the World Series were popular after the move was announced.
To put a bow on this story, it has since been revealed who was in that infamous private plane flying from Anaheim to Toronto. It turned out to be Canada’s own entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec.
Julian Miller is a Canadian writer and an avid sports fan. He has years of experience in the iGaming industry, having started writing while completing his university studies in Montreal, Quebec. In 2022, he graduated, and has since been working full-time in the iGaming space. He has a particular fondness for the English Premier League — though he also has plenty of experience covering football, basketball, and other sports.