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Stephen A. Smith Sorry About Shohei Ohtani Comments

ESPN personality disparaged baseball player's use of interpreters
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2021 2:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – ESPN's Stephen A. Smith is in hot water after comments he made about Major League Baseball star Shohei Ohtani. On the network's First Take on Monday morning, Smith was asked whether it's a positive thing for the MLB that Ohtani, who is being widely compared to Babe Ruth, is the league's biggest star. He said no, then went on to decry the large percentage of foreign players, Deadline reports. "If you are a star and you need an interpreter," he said of Ohtani, "that might have something to do with your inability to ingratiate yourself with that young demographic to attract them to the sport. ... 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."

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He went on to say MLB is in trouble as younger fans are flocking to other sports. "If you are a sport trying to ingratiate yourself with the American public the way Major League Baseball is, because of the problems that you’ve been having to deal with in terms of improving the attractiveness of the sport, it helps that if you spoke the English language," he said. Backlash was fast and fierce, and by the middle of the day, Smith had posted a video on Twitter claiming he was being misinterpreted. A few hours after that, he tweeted that he was "sincerely sorry" for unintentionally disparaging Asian people: "I screwed up." The Root called Smith's original comments xenophobic and rounded up past controversies; Yahoo News rounds up some of the dismayed Twitter reactions to the remarks. (Read more ESPN stories.)

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