Typically, a new conference is not written about before it begins. The news conference occurs, then reporters write about what was said.
But the news conference the Dodgers will hold Thursday at 3 p.m. is not typical.
Shohei Ohtani, 29, will be introduced in the center field plaza of Dodger Stadium. The superstar two-way player has signed the largest contract in sports history, a 10-year, $700-million pact with the Dodgers that is as inventive as it is enormous with him deferring all but $20 million until after 2033.
Some 300 media members are expected to attend, according to Dodgers spokesman Juan Dorado, and about two-thirds will be from Japanese outlets. Several hundred Dodgers employees also are expected. It’s probably the biggest sports media event in Los Angeles since the Lakers signed Shaquille O’Neal in 1996.
Six years ago nearly to the day, it was the Angels holding a landmark news conference to introduce the signing of Ohtani, who had left Japan to become a major league player. The Angels only needed to sign Ohtani to a minor league contract and pay him a paltry bonus of $2,315 million.
When he unexpectedly chose the Angels over nearly two dozen other suitors, thunderstruck general manager Billy Eppler jumped from his chair and fell to the floor when he tried to sit back down.
“I was just stunned,” Eppler said. “It was a pretty remarkable moment.”
Six seasons, a rookie of the year award, two most valuable player awards and three All-Star Game appearances later, Ohtani raised the bar on anticipation and excitement before announcing in Instagram that he would sign with the Dodgers.
No word on whether Andrew Friedman fell from his chair. Perhaps someone from the legions of credentialed media can ask him at the news conference.
More than 1,000 fans gathered outside Angel Stadium when Ohtani was introduced in 2017 and the team sold concessions. Ohtani introduced himself in English, admitted his nerves, told a few self-effacing stories and awkward jokes through an interpreter and grinned for photographs.
The Angels then set up a table in a stadium corridor where Ohtani sat and patiently answered questions for at least 30 minutes.
Don’t expect that level of intimacy at Dodger Stadium. Fans will not be allowed in, and the press box will be closed. Dodgers broadcaster Joe Davis will serve as master of ceremonies, team president Stan Kasten likely will speak, followed by Friedman and manager Dave Roberts.
Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, may or may not take questions about the secrecy of negotiations or other teams that took part in the bidding. It’s known that the Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants and Angels actively pursued Ohtani, but little else is clear.
Fans can watch a livestream on MLB.com, Dodgers.com and MLB.TV as well as on MLB’s official social media channels.
The viewership should be substantial. Nothing could eclipse Ohtani donning a Dodgers uniform for the first time while standing on a stage between bronze statues of Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax, right?
Well, the Dodgers are one of several teams engaged in intense bidding for Japanese starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, whose estimated payday could exceed $300 million. Should Yamamoto announce a decision before Thursday at 3 p.m., the news would not upstage Ohtani’s formal introduction as a Dodger.
But it certainly would add to the celebratory mood should he decide to join Ohtani in blue.