Stephen A. Smith has attempted to clarify his comments regarding Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese-born star pitcher who happens to lead Major League Baseball in home runs. During a segment on “First Take” on Monday, Smith argued it’s bad for baseball that the main attraction at this week’s All-Star Game needs an interpreter to communicate with American baseball fans.
“I don’t think it helps that the number one face is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he’s saying in this country,” Smith said Monday morning on ESPN’s “First Take.” A few hours later, Smith released a video statement where he didn’t exactly walk those comments back.
“People are misinterpreting what I’m saying… I’m talking about the marketability and promotion of the sport,” he said in the video, which you can view below. “If you are a sport trying to ingratiate yourself with the American public, the way Major League Baseball is, because of the problems you have to deal with in terms of improving the attractiveness of the sport, it helps if you spoke the English language. It doesn’t mean anything more than that.”
On my earlier comments about Ohtani pic.twitter.com/FM0vnDDXBB
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 12, 2021
Smith’s comments earlier on Monday went over about as well as you would expect.
Stephen A Smith saying that Shohei Ohtani, responsible for the 10 highest viewed regular season games this year and what will likely be the most watched HRD ever, shouldn’t be considered a face of baseball because he needs an interpreter. Kindly piss off
— Brain (@brian_slosh) July 12, 2021
This xenophobic stance by Stephen A. Smith isn’t just an off the cuff “hot take.” This isn’t “barbershop talk.” This is a produced segment. This “take” is accompanied by graphics. This “take” is a segment that was previously discussed in morning meetings.
— L E F T, PhD ⚫️ (@LeftSentThis) July 12, 2021
Launch Stephen A. Smith into the fucking sun already
— Jay Jaffe (@jay_jaffe) July 12, 2021
I’ve supported @stephenasmith when he’s been big at @espn and when he hasn’t, and when he’s been right and when he’s been wrong.
But this, about Shohei Ohtani, is straight up racism at a time of dangerous anti-Asian violence.
This requires an apology, and a suspension. Now. pic.twitter.com/dgYRUxWdvI
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) July 12, 2021
Smith is also apparently forgetting that Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui both experienced long and popular careers in the major leagues. Suzuki was even the top vote-getter for the All-Star teams from the fans in many of his prime years with the Seattle Mariners.
Ohtani, who is in his third year with the Los Angeles Angles, leads all of baseball with 33 home runs and boasts a 3.49 earned run average as a pitcher, which is pretty much unheard of in MLB history. He is set to compete in Monday’s home run derby, where he is ranked as the top seed and the consensus favorite to win. Then on Tuesday, Ohtani will be both the starting pitcher for the American League and lead-off as the designated hitter in the AL batting lineup.
ESPN is already reeling from the Rachel Nichols controversy over her comments about Maria Taylor. Unlike Nichols, Smith knew he was being recorded.
Read original story Stephen A Smith Says People Are ‘Misinterpreting’ His Comments on MLB’s Shohei Ohtani Not Speaking English At TheWrap