ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is apologizing for criticizing Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani for using an interpreter.
“I never intend to offend ANY COMMUNITY, particularly the Asian Community — and especially SHOHEI Ohtani, himself,” Smith wrote in an apology late Monday. “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.”
“I screwed up,” he added. “In this day and age, with all the violence being perpetrated against the Asian Community, my comments — albeit unintentional — were clearly insensitive and regrettable.”
On his podcast First Take, Smith shared his comments on the MLB star that using an interpreter is contributing to “harming the game.”
“But 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 in some degree when that’s your box office appeal. It needs to be somebody like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, those guys. And unfortunately, at this moment in time, that’s not the case,” he said.
Smith’s comments did not sit well with the rest of social media about Ohtani’s marketability in the sport.
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.— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) July 12, 2021
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
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
I’d rather listen to Shohei Ohtani speak Japanese than Stephen A. Smith speak English.— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) July 12, 2021
*Turns on First Take*— 🏑ordan Magrath (@jmacle) July 12, 2021
Stephen A Smith: it’s a bad thing Ohtani is the face of baseball because he has an interpreter…In fact, he could be harming the game
*Turns off First Take forever*
fun fact Ohtani can speak pretty decent English but like Ichiro they use interpreters so people can understand them a little better and they can articulate what they want to say better since English is not their native language— Wheelz (@WheelzFL) July 12, 2021
what im trying to say is Stephen A Smith is a clown
Ohtani who signed with the Angels in 2017, became the first Japanese-born player to play in the MLB’s Home Run Derby on Monday. The MLB star has not responded to Smith’s apology as of yet.