Stephen A. Smith is in a HUGE quagmire this week after saying MLB baseball star Shohei Ohtani — who is Japanese — is “harming” the marketing of professional baseball in America because he “doesn’t speak English.”
Smith made the comments on ESPN‘s popular Monday daytime sports debate show First Take, where he and co-host Max Kellerman were discussing the MLB Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, which took place on Monday and Tuesday nights, respectively.
Ohtani, a 27-year-old star pitcher and outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was chosen to participate in both events and is considered one of the most talented professional baseball players in the world.
In his initial comments, Smith took issue with Ohtani’s lack of ability to speak English, claiming the two-way player’s historic achievements are hampered by his inability to market himself to American baseball fans.
The always-controversial TV pundit said (below):
“The fact that you got a foreign player that doesn’t speak English, that needs an interpreter, believe it or not, I think contributes to harming the game to some degree, when that’s your box-office appeal. When you talk about an audience gravitating to the tube or to 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. And that’s what I’m trying to say.”
WTF?! Who cares if he speaks English (which, BTW, he’s actively learning) — he’s a freakin’ superstar on the field!
It’s just as bad on video as it is reading the actual quote, but don’t take our word for it — here’s video from the moment Stephen A. blasts a national treasure who is actively trying to learn English (below):
And yet the sports analyst only served to double down at first, tweeting a video of himself attempting to explain his comments and alleging people were “misinterpreting” him on purpose.
In the first response clip, the NBA expert said (below):
“People are misinterpreting what I’m saying. A lot of need translators. You know, Spanish, it can be Mandarin, Japanese, the list goes on and on and on. If you are trying to ingratiate yourself with the American public the way Major League Baseball is because of the problems that you’re having to deal with in terms of approving the attractiveness of the sport, it helps if you spoke the English language.”
Here’s the whole clip (below):
Late Monday afternoon, Smith finally figured out that he f**ked up badly, and he wrote out an extensive Twitter apology for his role in the controversy.
In part, he said:
“Let me apologize right now. As I’m watching things unfold, let me say that I never intended to offend ANY COMMUNITY, particularly the Asian community — and especially Shohei Ohtani, himself. As an African-American, keenly aware of the damage stereotyping has done to many in this country, it should’ve elevated my sensitivities even more. Based on my words, I failed in that regard and it’s on me, and me alone.”
And he continued:
“Ohtani is one of the brightest stars in all of sports. He is making a difference, as it pertains to inclusiveness and leadership. I should have embraced that in my comments. Instead, I screwed up. In this day and age, with all the violence being perpetrated against the Asian Community, my comments — albeit unintentional — were clearly insensitive and regrettable. There’s simply no other way to put it. I’m sincerely sorry for any angst I’ve caused with my comments on First Take this morning. Again, I am sorry. And I’ll happily reiterate these words more extensively tomorrow morning, as well.”
Here’s that full apology in writing (below):
What do U think of Stephen A. Smith’s comments — both initial, and follow-up — Perezcious readers?
BTW, that wasn’t even Stephen A. Smith’s lone f**k up this week!
Also on Monday, he “joked” that he wasn’t able to pronounce the names of players on the country of Nigeria’s men’s basketball team after the club beat the United States 90-87 in an exhibition game (below):
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