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Los Angeles vs. Toronto in a free-agency battle for Shohei Ohtani? It’s on!

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani during a game with the Yankees.
Free-agent Shohei Ohtani could exchange his Angels red for Dodgers (or Toronto Blue Jays) blue.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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We don’t know whether the Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays are the two finalists to sign Shohei Ohtani. We don’t know much about Ohtani’s free agency, by design.

But we do know that Ohtani has met with the Dodgers and Blue Jays in recent days, and that was enough to spark what turned into an international debate.

On Wednesday, on the Dodgers-owned SportsNet LA channel, analyst and former Dodgers player Jerry Hairston Jr. made his pitch for Ohtani to sign with the Dodgers. On Thursday, on Toronto’s legendary morning show “Breakfast Television,” host Sid Seixeiro shared part of Hairston’s pitch with his viewers.

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The Dodgers remain in the same position they were at the start of the winter meetings: waiting for Shohei Ohtani to select a team.

Dec. 6, 2023

“He is talking directly to Shohei Ohtani … trying to make the case to sign with the Dodgers while insulting this entire country,” Seixeiro said. “Try and digest this with your corn flakes.”

Good morning, Canada! Let’s take this point by counterpoint:

Hairston: “You’d have to listen to two national anthems.”

Seixeiro: “Listening to two national anthems is great. You know why? You get to hear the American one, and then you get to hear the better one.”

Winner: Toronto. The Canadian anthem is superior (try singing both). But, since Ohtani grew up in Japan, there is no allegiance here either way.

Hairston: “The taxes would crush you.”

Seixeiro: “Yeah, we got taxes up in Canada, but California has the fifth-highest taxes out of any state in America.”

Winner: Draw. Ohtani is expected to receive the largest contract in North American sports history, and he’ll pay a ton of taxes in L.A. or Toronto. If he signed with a team in a state with no income tax — say, Texas — this might matter.

Hairston: “Canada is too cold, man.”

Seixeiro: “Yeah, it’s cold in Canada a little bit. You know what? It also snows in California, last time I checked. And, based on what Hollywood has told me, the great earthquake is coming at any point, and you don’t want to be around any part of Los Angeles when that happens.

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Winner: L.A. The Blue Jays have a dome, but the Dodgers don’t play in Big Bear. And we’ve been waiting for the Big One for 300 years.

Hairston: “In your lovely Newport Beach home, you can commute — if you want to stay there — to Dodger Stadium every single night.”

Seixiero: “The worst traffic in the world is in Los Angeles. Even if you’re 10 kilometers away, it’s still going to take you eight hours to get to work every day.”

Winner: Toronto. The traffic in Toronto is terrible too, but mass transit there goes directly to the ballpark. Freddie Freeman tried commuting from Orange County to Dodger Stadium; he gave up after one year and bought a home in Studio City. And Ohtani could live in the hotel built into the Blue Jays’ stadium, or walk from any of the luxury condominium complexes dotting the adjacent waterfront.

Jerry Hairston scores a run for the Dodgers against the San Diego Padres on Aug. 31, 2013.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Hairston: “I guarantee you, every single year, you’re going to have a chance to play in the postseason, win a World Series — hopefully, rings, plural.”

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Seixeiro: “Oh, we’re going to talk about rings? We’re going to talk about titles? Since 1992, who has won more titles? The Jays or the Dodgers? Jays have two. Dodgers have … not two.”

Winner: L.A. Ridiculous cherry-picking. Since 1994, the Dodgers have won more titles than the Jays. Since the Jays were born in 1977, the Dodgers have won three titles and the Jays have won … not three.

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