Stephen A. Smith ripped for comments about Shohei Ohtani
Stephen A. Smith expressed concern on Monday about Shohei Ohtani becoming the face of Major League Baseball, and the ESPN analyst has come under heavy fire for his take.
Ohtani has taken baseball by storm this year as a player who is doing things that have not been done in century. The Los Angeles Angels star is from Japan and speaks limited English, which Smith sees as a problem for MLB. During Monday’s edition of “First Take,” Smith said he views it as a negative that the face of American baseball is a player who uses an interpreter.
Stephen A. Smith on Shohei Ohtani: "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."
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 12, 2021
“I understand that baseball is an international sport in terms of participation. But when you talk about an audience gravitating to the (TV) or the ballpark to actually watch you, I don’t think it helps that the No. 1 face is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he is saying, in this country,” Smith said.
The reaction was quite predictable. Smith was torn apart on Twitter, with many fellow members of the media demanding that he apologize and be suspended. ESPN’s Mina Kimes took a swipe at Smith after it was announced that Ohtani will be the starting pitcher for the American League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game and bat leadoff.
Gonna go ahead and say this translates in any language https://t.co/iOtHJwa2LC
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) July 12, 2021
That was obviously a bad take from Smith. Calling Ohtani a once-in-a-generation talent would be an understatement, and most baseball fans care a lot more about what he does on the diamond than his interactions with the media. Heck, MLB even tweaked an All-Star Game rule to give fans more Ohtani.
Despite the backlash, Smith stood by his take as usual. He posted a video on Twitter elaborating on what he meant.