Yahoo Sports AM: Ohtani scandal

In today's edition: The Ohtani interpreter scandal, Day 1 of Madness, the USMNT is loaded, women's AP All-Americans, and more.

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🚨 Headlines

🏀 Men's First Four: Grambling State beat Montana State, 88-81 (OT), in their tournament debut to set up a meeting with No. 1 Purdue; Colorado beat Boise State, 60-53, to set up a meeting with No. 7 Florida.

🏀 Women's First Four: Presbyterian beat Sacred Heart, 49-42, in their tournament debut to set up a meeting with No. 1 South Carolina; Vanderbilt beat Columbia, 72-68, to set up a meeting with No. 5 Baylor.

⚾️ Seoul Series: The Dodgers won Wednesday's opener, 5-2. The second game is on ESPN now, and L.A.'s $325 million man Yoshinobu Yamamoto lasted just one inning after giving up five runs in the first.

🏀 KD passes Shaq: Kevin Durant passed Shaquille O'Neal on Wednesday for eighth on the NBA's all-time scoring list (28,598 points). Next up: Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).

⚾️ 1,334 feet of homers: Giancarlo Stanton has never had a three-homer game in the regular season. On Wednesday, he hit three in the first four innings of the Yankees' 12-0 spring training win.

⚾️ The Ohtani interpreter scandal

Shohei Ohtani with his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara (R) and agent Nez Balelo. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Shohei Ohtani with his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara (R) and agent Nez Balelo. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Major League Baseball — sponsored by DraftKings, in partnership with FanDuel, and brought to you by BetMGM — could have a gambling scandal on its hands.

What's happening: Shohei Ohtani's longtime interpreter and friend, Ippei Mizuhara, was fired by the Dodgers on Wednesday after he reportedly stole millions of dollars from Ohtani to cover his gambling debts with illegal bookmaker Matthew Bowyer, whose home was raided in October.

But is that what really happened? According to an ESPN report, an Ohtani spokesman initially claimed the Dodgers star agreed to cover Mizuhara's debts — only to reverse course one day later and get Ohtani's legal team involved.

Initially, a spokesman for Ohtani told ESPN the slugger had transferred the funds to cover Mizuhara's gambling debt. The spokesman presented Mizuhara to ESPN for a 90-minute interview Tuesday night, during which Mizuhara laid out his account in great detail. However, as ESPN prepared to publish the story Wednesday, the spokesman disavowed Mizuhara's account and said Ohtani's lawyers would issue a statement.

"In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities," read the statement from Berk Brettler LLP.

When asked by ESPN on Wednesday afternoon — after the Berk Brettler statement — if he had been accused of theft, Mizuhara said he was told he could not comment but declined to say by whom.

In short: On Tuesday, Ohtani's camp said he helped Mizuhara with his gambling debts. On Wednesday, that same camp said Mizuhara — who was seen just hours earlier smiling with Ohtani in the dugout in Korea — was a thief.

  • That change of story led to rampant speculation online about Ohtani's involvement. Was he the one with the gambling addiction? Was Mizuhara just taking the fall for his friend?

  • However, as Yahoo Sports' Jack Baer points out, everyone involved in this story — including Bowyer, who has no incentive to protect Ohtani — said the Dodgers star never gambled.

Here's my guess: Ohtani wanted to help his friend so he sent him money, possibly not even knowing his debts were with an illegal bookmaker rather than a legit operation. When his camp realized that the wire transfer put him in legal hot water*, they pivoted and said Mizuhara had stolen from him.

The bottom line: This is not how MLB or the Dodgers envisioned this season starting, to say the least. What a mess.

*What the law says: Using a wire "which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers" is explicitly listed in the U.S. criminal code as a violation that can result in a fine or imprisonment for up to two years.

🏀 Let the Madness begin

UNC is the lone No. 1 seed in action today. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
UNC is the lone No. 1 seed in action today. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

And we're off! The men's NCAA tournament gets underway today with 16 games in Charlotte, Omaha, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City, Jeff writes.

Early afternoon:

  • No. 8 Mississippi State (+1.5) vs. No. 9 Michigan State (12:15pm ET, CBS): The day begins, appropriately, with Tom Izzo on the sidelines for the 26th consecutive tournament.

  • No. 6 BYU (-10.5) vs. No. 11 Duquesne (12:40pm, truTV): The Dukes got hot at the right time to earn their first bid in 47 years, but the hot-shooting Cougars (second-most threes per game in the nation) are a lot to handle.

  • No. 3 Creighton (-11.5) vs. No. 14 Akron (1:30pm, TNT): The Bluejays, one of eight teams with a top-25 offense and defense, look poised for another deep run after making their first Elite Eight last year.

  • No. 2 Arizona (-20.5) vs. No. 15 Long Beach State (2pm, TBS): The Wildcats should cruise, but the same was said last year before they lost to No. 15 Princeton, making them the first program ever to lose two first-round games as a No. 2 seed.

Late afternoon:

  • No. 1 UNC (-24.5) vs. No. 16 Wagner (2:45pm, CBS): The see-saw continues for the Tar Heels, who lost in the first round in 2021, reached the title game in 2022, missed the tournament last year, and are now a No. 1 seed.

  • No. 3 Illinois (-11.5) vs. No. 14 Morehead State (3:10pm, truTV): No Big Ten tournament champ has survived the first weekend since 2019. Will the Illini break the streak?

  • No. 6 South Carolina (+1.5) vs. No. 11 Oregon (4pm, TNT): The Ducks, who squeaked in by winning the final Pac-12 tournament, are 6-0 in first-round games under Dana Altman.

  • No. 7 Dayton (+1.5) vs. No. 10 Nevada (4:30pm, TBS): The Flyers have lost three of six, but they're a threat to beat anybody behind All-American DaRon Holmes II.


  • No. 7 Texas (-2.5) vs. No. 10 Colorado State (6:50pm, TNT): Three years ago, Max Abmas led No. 15 seed Oral Roberts to the Sweet 16. Now he's the Longhorns' leading scorer, and his 3,109 career points ranks eighth in D-I history.

  • No. 3 Kentucky (-13.5) vs. No. 14 Oakland (7:10pm, CBS): Prepare yourself for points: the Wildcats rank second in scoring offense (89.4 ppg) but 334th in scoring defense (79.7).

  • No. 5 Gonzaga (-7.5) vs. No. 12 McNeese (7:25pm, TBS): The Cowboys are a popular upset pick but beware the Zags, who have reached eight straight Sweet 16s.

  • No. 2 Iowa State (-15.5) vs. No. 15 South Dakota State (7:35pm, truTV): The Cyclones put the country on notice after trouncing top-ranked Houston in the Big 12 title game.

Late night:

  • No. 2 Tennessee (-21.5) vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s (9:20pm, TNT): Can the Peacocks shock the world again? The Vols have lost to a lower seed in all five appearances under Rick Barnes.

  • No. 6 Texas Tech (-4.5) vs. No. 11 NC State (9:40pm, CBS): The Wolfpack joined 2011 UConn as the only teams to win five games in five days en route to a conference tourney title. That UConn team went on to win the national championship.

  • No. 4 Kansas (-7.5) vs. No. 13 Samford (9:55pm, TBS): The Jayhawks have lost four of five and will be without leading scorer Kevin McCullar Jr. Very popular upset pick here.

  • No. 7 Washington State (+1.5) vs. No. 10 Drake (10:05pm, truTV): The Cougars, led by freshman Myles Rice in his return from beating cancer, snapped the second-longest tournament drought (2008) among power conference teams (DePaul, 2004).

Viewer's guide: What to watch, what to skip

How to stream: All CBS games are available on Paramount+; all truTV, TBS and TNT games are available on Max.

⚽️ Is this the best USMNT roster ever?

Gio Reyna (R) and Brendan Aaronson battle for a ball during USMNT training on Monday. (John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)
Gio Reyna (R) and Brendan Aaronson battle for a ball during USMNT training on Monday. (John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)

The USMNT plays Jamaica tonight (7pm ET, Paramount+) in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinal, and will be taking the field with arguably its most talented squad ever.

The roster: 16 of the 20 outfield players are employed by clubs in the UEFA Champions League or top flights in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France, notes Yahoo Sports' Henry Bushnell.

  • Goalkeepers (3): Drake Callender (Inter Miami), Ethan Horvath (Cardiff City), Matt Turner (Nottingham Forest)

  • Defenders (8): Sergiño Dest (PSV Eindhoven), Kristoffer Lund (Palermo), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Tim Ream (Fulham), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

  • Midfielders (6): Brendan Aaronson (Union Berlin), Tyler Adams (Bournemouth), Johnny Cardoso (Real Betis), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (AC Milan), Gio Reyna (Nottingham Forest)

  • Forwards (6): Folarin Balogun (Monaco), Malik Tillman (PSV Eindhoven), Ricardo Pepi (PSV Eindhoven), Christian Pulisic (AC Milan), Tim Weah (Juventus), Haji Wright (Coventry City)

Depth at striker: The USMNT suffered through the 2022 World Cup cycle with a glaring weakness at striker. Now, they suddenly have depth there. So much so that manager Gregg Berhalter, who typically chooses two players at each position, picked three strikers in Balogun, Pepi and Wright.

🏀 Women's AP All-Americans

(Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)
(Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)

For the third straight year, Caitlin Clark was a unanimous AP All-American, becoming the 11th player to be named to the first team at least three times, Jeff writes.

The three-timers club: Clark (2022-24), Aliyah Boston (2021-23), Rhyne Howard (2020-22), Sabrina Ionescu (2018-20), A'ja Wilson (2016-18), Breanna Stewart (2014-16), Brittney Griner (2011-13), Maya Moore (2008-11), Courtney Paris (2006-09), Alana Beard (2002-04) and Chamique Holdsclaw (1997-99).

First Team

  • Caitlin Clark, Senior (Iowa): 31.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists

  • Cameron Brink, Senior (Stanford): 17.8 points, 12 rebounds, 3.5 blocks

  • Paige Bueckers, Junior (UConn): 21.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists

  • JuJu Watkins, Freshman* (USC): 27 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists

  • Hannah Hidalgo, Freshman* (Notre Dame): 23.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists

Second Team

  • Elizabeth Kitley, Senior (Virginia Tech): 22.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.1 blocks

  • Kamilla Cardoso, Senior (South Carolina): 14 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.6 blocks

  • Jacy Sheldon, Senior (Ohio State): 18 points, 3.7 assists, 2.1 steals

  • Angel Reese, Junior (LSU): 19 points, 13.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists

  • Madison Booker, Freshman (Texas): 16.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists

Third Team

  • Alissa Pili, Senior (Utah): 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists

  • Mackenzie Holmes, Senior (Indiana): 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks

  • Dyaisha Fair, Senior (Syracuse): 22 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists

  • Georgia Amoore, Senior (Virginia Tech): 19.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists

  • Raegan Beers, Sophomore (Oregon State): 17.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists

Honorable Mention

  • B-H: Lauren Betts (UCLA), Audi Crooks (Iowa State), Aaliyah Edwards (UConn), Yvonne Ejim (Gonzaga), Lauren Gustin (BYU), McKenna Hofschild (Colorado State), Abbey Hsu (Columbia)

  • I-M: Kiki Iriafen (Stanford), Rickea Jackson (Tennessee), Ta'Niya Latson (FSU), Ayoka Lee (Kansas State), Cotie McMahon (Ohio State), Aneesah Morrow (LSU), Nika Muhl (UConn)

  • O-V: Lucy Olsen (Villanova), Charisma Osborne (UCLA), Te-Hina Paopao (South Carolina), JJ Quinerly (West Virginia), Saniya Rivers (NC State), Kiki Rice (UCLA), Jaylyn Sherrod (Colorado), Skylar Vann (Oklahoma)

Looking back: Past AP All-America teams

*Exclusive club: Watkins and Hidalgo are the fourth and fifth freshman ever to make the first team, joining Paris (2006), Moore (2008) and Bueckers (2020).

📆 Mar. 21, 2019: Ichiro's final game

(Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images)
(Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images)

Five years ago today, Ichiro Suzuki played his final game, getting his sendoff in his native Japan with the team where his soon-to-be minted* Hall of Fame career began, Jeff writes.

A strategic farewell: After returning to the Mariners in 2018 and playing 15 ineffective games, Seattle kept the 44-year-old on staff to train with the team, eyeing the 2019 Opening Series in Tokyo as a likely final appearance. He went 0-4 but got a hero's farewell in the eighth inning,

coming off the field one last time to raucous applause.

More on this day:

*Unanimous in 2025? Ichiro will headline next year's Hall of Fame ballot, and if anyone has a chance to join Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous selections, it's the man with the most hits in professional baseball history (4,367 including his time in Japan's NPB).

🏀 College hoops trivia

(Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
(Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Eight schools in this year's men's NCAA tournament have won multiple national championships. How many can you name?

Hint: Three are in the same state.

Answer at the bottom.

🏀 Fill out your bracket!

(Yahoo Sports)
(Yahoo Sports)

There's still time to fill out your bracket! Head to to play with friends and enter the $25K Best Bracket Contest for both the men's and women's tournaments

Trivia answer: Kentucky (8 national titles), North Carolina (6), Duke (5), UConn (5), Kansas (4), NC State (2), Florida (2), Michigan State (2)

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