Stephen A. Smith Addresses Shohei Ohtani Comments: 'I Was Wrong. Period'

Adam WellsJuly 13, 2021

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 11: ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith during Game Three of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns at Fiserv Forum on July 11, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Justin Casterline/Getty Images

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith addressed his offensive comments about Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani during Tuesday's episode of First Take

"I was wrong. Period," Smith said at the start of the show. 

Smith generated controversy on Monday's episode of First Take when he said Ohtani using an interpreter "contributes to harming" Major League Baseball's popularity in the United States.

Amid backlash to those comments, Smith posted a video on Twitter doubling down on what he said: 

"If you are a sport trying to ingratiate yourself to the American public the way Major League Baseball is, because of the problems you've been having in terms of improving the attractiveness of the sport, it helps if you spoke the English language. It doesn't mean anything more than that." 

After receiving more criticism following his second statement, Smith posted an apology on Twitter:

Stephen A Smith @stephenasmith

I'm sincerely sorry. <a href="https://t.co/pANjWTrD4X">pic.twitter.com/pANjWTrD4X</a>

The Japanese-born Ohtani has used an interpreter since coming to the United States after signing with the Angels in December 2017. 

Ohtani has become arguably MLB's biggest star and face of the sport thanks to his unique two-way skill set and MVP-caliber season through the first half of 2021. He leads MLB with 33 homers and a .698 slugging percentage this season. 

The 27-year-old also has a 3.49 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 67 innings through 13 starts. 

After being named to the American League All-Star team as a designated hitter and pitcher, Ohtani will start the game on the mound and hit leadoff for his squad Tuesday night during the Midsummer Classic.