Stephen A. Smith apologizes for cringeworthy take on Shohei Ohtani as face of baseball

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By , Audacy

Update
Stephen A. Smith has posted a written apology for his statement on Shohei Ohtani.

Original story below

As Major League Baseball gears up for its All-Star Game this week, all the buzz and attention will be on Shohei Ohtani as the Angels two-way star has molded himself into the face of the sport with his unprecedent season as a pitcher and hitter.

Unfortunately, instead of celebrating this baseball unicorn, some TV talking heads have resorted to cringeworthy takes.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, in particular, questioned on Monday whether or not Ohtani being the face of baseball was good for the sport because he needs an interpreter.

“I don’t think it helps that the No. 1 face is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what he’s saying, in this country” Smith said on “First Take.”

Smith’s comments immediately received backlash by many on social media.

(Some NSFW language is included in some of the tweets below)

In fact, Stephen Nelson of MLB Network tweeted that Ohtani not only understands English, but also Spanish.

Ohtani, who lived his entire life in Japan, signed with the Angels in 2018 and uses a translator for interviews.

Like many foreign-speaking professional athletes, Ohtani likely chooses to use a translator out of comfortability and to make sure nothing is misconstrued if he says something wrong in English.

FOX is hoping to conduct an in-game interview with Ohtani during the All-Star Game on Tuesday through his translator as a way to bring the game’s biggest star closer to its fans.

After Smith's comments went viral, the pundit posted a video to his Twitter page in which he did not apologize, but rather attempted to clarify his point by making the argument that it helps the marketability and promotion standpoint of the sport if the star speaks the English language.

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