Dec 7, 2023 - Sports

An open letter to Shohei Ohtani from Axios Local cities

Photo of a baseball player sitting in the dugout

Shohei Ohtani sits on the bench in the fourth inning during a game against the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Sept. 16. Photo: John McCoy/Getty Images

Megastar Shohei Ohtani is turning the baseball world upside down as teams secretly race to sign the coveted free agent.

What's happening: Ohtani is considering offers from several teams and his agents have said he will take time this weekend to make a decision.

  • Ohtani will undoubtedly get the biggest contract in baseball history, so his decision to relocate will be more than just about money.

Zoom in: If Shohei needs some reading material when making his historic decision, we've got him covered.

  • Here is an open letter from Axios Local reporters about why Ohtani should move to their cities:

Atlanta: "Yes, our summers are humid and hot and our traffic is horrendous. But spring and fall are near perfection in Atlanta," writes Axios' Thomas Wheatley. "Plus, we are diverse, growing and blessed with world-class restaurants and hip-hop. And we've got Magic City."

Baltimore: "Shohei, hon," writes Axios' Southern bureau chief Michael Graff, a lifelong O's sufferer.

  • "Meet me at the Sip & Bite for a crab cake and egg breakfast, and let's talk about Babe Ruth's hometown. Oh, you didn't know? Yep, George, as we call him, learned to play both ways down the street from what's now Camden Yards, which happens to be near the old Edgar Allan Poe home."
  • "What's new, though, is that the Orioles are winners again, and we have the best player in the minors set to rise up this year. Come. Eat. Mentor. Pitch. Hit. Be the baseball poet of our time."

Boston: "Live the true American dream by lifting yourself up by your multimillion-dollar bootstraps and joining one of the worst teams in baseball!" Axios' Mike Deehan writes. "The Red Sox finished dead last this year and are the epitome of a rebuilding club."

  • Plus: "The Sox are facing a nightmare scenario if you join Juan Soto in the AL East. Yes, the cost of living here will cut into your take-home pay, but we're sure Sox management can hook you up with some bargains from Market Basket."
Man dressed as a pope outside a bar
View of fan dressed as pontiff outside Sluggers Bar on Clark Street in Wrigleyville during the World Series in 2016 Photo: Erick W. Rasco /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Chicago: "Two words: Day. Games. That means your nights are free!" writes Axios' Justin Kaufmann.

  • "Not only do you get to play regularly at the Friendly Confines, but if you like Steve Goodman folk songs, standing in line for jello shots AND petting police horses, then Wrigleyville is the right neighborhood for you. Also, you can rent Oprah's old condo at Lake Point Tower."

Cleveland: "You've already indicated that the one player you'd be most excited to suit up next to is Jose Ramirez, so why are we beating around the bush?" asks Axios' Sam Allard.

  • "If you need a sweetener, Cleveland hasn't won a World Series since 1948, the longest drought in the majors, so there's more glory available here than anywhere. Also, the millions of dollars coming your way will go a hell of a lot further in Cleveland than in the coastal markets you're flirting with. When's the last time you had a $4 craft beer on draft in LA?"

Dallas: "Power hit and pitch your way to a World Series with the current champs. You'll set off fireworks and hear The Natural music for every homer," writes Axios' Tasha Tsiaperas.

  • Plus: "The Texas Rangers ballpark is hosting next year's All-Star Game, which, of course, you'll play in. The downside: It's hot AF in Texas. The upside: You can be Shaq's neighbor."

D.C.: "Get in on the ground floor of the Nats rebuild. You can join a team with real World Series bonafides, and be an instant big name in this town," Axios' Cuneyt Dil writes.

  • Plus: "We have cherry blossoms."

Denver: "Jokić. Makar. Ohtani. Don't those names all look good together?" asks Axios' Esteban Hernandez.

  • "If you want to join a new team, why not come to a city of champions, and help the Colorado Rockies earn their first-ever World Series title? You might have to get a used to the elevation — but you had no trouble hitting homers last time you were here, and if memory serves right, you nearly hit a ball out of the park."
  • Plus: "The food at Coors Field is pretty good (we're partial to the the cauliflower and waffles with a chili-infused maple syrup and Sriracha aioli)."

Detroit: "Why should Shohei come to the D?" Axios' Sam Robinson asks.

  • "We'll love you forever — take a stroll across Comerica Park and peep all the jerseys of former players that fans are still wearing. From Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera to Brennan Boesch and Brandon Inge, you don't have to be a Hall of Famer to earn the lifelong admiration of Tigers fans."
  • "It doesn't matter how long you play here. Ingrain yourself to the fanbase and you'll never pay for a meal at Sweetwater's again."
A boat that looks like a car out on the water
A man drives a modified boat "Jetcar" in the bay in Miami, Florida, on Oct. 4. Photo: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

Miami: "In Miami, you can party until the sun comes up," writes Axios' Martin Vassolo. "Do it up at Space, grab a SOBE Club at La Sandwicherie and share half with Pitbull on a boat in the Haulover sand bar."

  • Plus: "You might want to fake an injury or something. Living here is a full-time job."

Philadelphia: "Once you go Gritty, ain't nothing more litty," writes Axios' Isaac Avilucea. "Tear it up here, you're the stuff of legend, a demi-god. If you suck, don't worry. We'll ship you off to one of these other lame cities."

  • Plus: "If you pitch your way into a max contract, you'll be able to afford these swanky cheesesteaks for days. Now that's 'Shotime!'"

Phoenix: "So many of your MLB colleagues chose to live in Arizona during the off-season, or retire here. Why not get paid by the NLCS Champion Arizona Diamondbacks to do the same?" asks Axios' Jessica Boehm.

San Diego: "Obviously, life in southern California has been going pretty well for you. Now imagine the same weather and better beaches, but without Orange County people (or freeways)," writes Axios' Andy Keatts. "You know about that daily flight from San Diego to Tokyo, right?"

  • Plus: "Our Cali burritos are unmatched when you need that post-game fuel. Plus, with Juan Soto's departure, we're primed for another superstar on the Padres roster."

San Francisco: "Where else can you play ball surrounded by some of the most spectacular views of Bay and city skyline?" Axios' Megan Rose Dickey asks. "And if you move to SF, you can live anywhere in the city and still be no more than seven miles away from work.

Photo of a fan holding up a sign that says "Ohtani Come to Seattle"
A fan holds a Shohei Ohtani sign before the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 23. Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Seattle: "Seattleites made it clear how much they want you during the MLB All-Star Game in July, shouting "Come to Seattle!" so loud that you could barely focus on the ball," writes Axios' Melissa Santos. "This kind of deafening enthusiasm could be yours year round!"

  • "And why not trade L.A. weather for Seattle's dark and rainy winters? You've already spent a couple of offseasons here and found it "beautiful," so there's nowhere to go but up, weatherwise. (You can also enjoy a comparative dearth of quality Mexican food while you're here.)"
  • "Plus, we need this, as it doesn't look like we'll be getting our men's basketball team back anytime soon."

Tampa Bay: "There's no better team to join than last year's winningest underdog. This time, you could take us all the way. And you'll get a shiny new stadium to play in (in four or so years)," Axios' Selene San Felice writes.

  • "Cleveland and Chicago can't give you great weather and beaches all year round. Here, it's all rays all the time."

Twin Cities: "The Twins can't offer you anywhere near the money that other teams will, but you get to spend your summers in Minnesota. That means relatively mild temperatures and 10,000 lakes to enjoy," Axios' Nick Halter writes. "You'll get to play at a wonderful ball park for an easy-going manager and on your off days, you can hang out with Anthony Edwards and Justin Jefferson."

  • "We also understand you like tasteless food. While the Minneapolis culinary scene has improved dramatically over the years, we still have plenty of bland dishes."

The intrigue: Axios doesn't have a newsletter in Los Angeles, which is the odds on favorite to land the superstar.  But we do have a newsletter in Columbus, Ohio, which has a particular pitch for the best baseball player in the world.

Columbus: "Shohei, you're clearly someone who enjoys your privacy. So why not take your talents to the minor leagues where you can be a star in peace?" asks Axios' Tyler Buchanan.

  • "The Columbus Clippers are a modest, well-run Triple-A team with great fans and an even greater rally squirrel. Come chill in Ohio's capital city away from the hustle and bustle of the big leagues."
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