MLB Altered the Rules of the All-Star Game to Showcase Shohei Ohtani

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InsideHook 14 July, 2021 - 09:57am 14 views

What Stephen A Smith said about Shohei Ohtani?

In a segment on ESPN's morning talk show "First Take," Smith said Monday that Ohtani, a Japanese-born Major League Baseball sensation who has drawn comparisons to Babe Ruth, couldn't be the face of the sport because he uses an interpreter. NBC NewsESPN's Stephen A. Smith apologizes for criticizing Shohei Ohtani's use of interpreter

Is Ohtani in the Home Run Derby?

Monday night, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was among the MLB stars to take his hacks in the 2021 Home Run Derby at Coors Field. Ohtani took an MLB-leading 33 homers into the Home Run Derby -- no other player has more than 28 homers this season -- and was the odds-on favorite to win the thing. CBS sports.comMLB Home Run Derby 2021: Shohei Ohtani upset by Juan Soto in dramatic swing-off

Who is pitching in the All Star Game?

DENVER — The MLB All-Star game will be on Tuesday evening, with plenty of stars from the two Southland clubs set to take the field. From the Angels, Shohei Ohtani will play both ways, serving as the American League's starting pitcher and designated hitter, batting leadoff. Los Angeles TimesLive coverage of Shohei Ohtani at the MLB all-star game

On Monday’s show, the day that Ohtani was set to participate in the Home Run Derby on ESPN, Smith expressed concern over whether the Los Angeles Angels hitting and pitching sensation could help grow baseball in the United States without speaking English in interviews.

“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’s saying,” Smith said.

After Monday’s show — even as ESPN colleagues were publicly critical of his stance — Smith doubled down on his comments in a short video posted to Twitter. “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 if you spoke the English language,” he said.

The comments drew swift and unusually public rebukes from a wave of Smith’s ESPN colleagues.

Clinton Yates, a writer and TV personality, wrote on Twitter that “Speaking english is not a requirement to be a tremendous anything, nevermind baseball player.”

TV and podcast host Pablo Torre wrote: “Perhaps we shouldn’t ask the most multitalented player in recorded baseball history to cut up lil morsels of English soundbites and make airplane noises while spoonfeeding them to us too.”

Writer Joon Lee wrote: “Telling anyone — let alone a generational, one-in-a-lifetime baseball talent who’s currently doing something completely unprecedented — to just ‘learn English’ completely underestimates and devalues the difficulty of immigrating to the United States.”

By Monday evening, Smith had issued his first apology in a statement posted to social media, writing that “with all the violence being perpetrated against the Asian Community, my comments — albeit unintentional — were clearly insensitive and regrettable.” More than 80 percent of Asian adults say violence against that group is rising, according to a Pew Research Center survey earlier this year.

Tuesday brought the second apology. (Smith also deliberately mispronounced the names of several Nigerian men’s basketball players on Monday’s episode following the national team’s exhibition upset of Team USA, for which he also apologized for Tuesday.)

ESPN’s top baseball reporter, Jeff Passan, and Lee both appeared Tuesday on “First Take” to discuss Smith’s comments.

Passan, who published a piece about Ohtani’s impact on baseball Monday night, referenced his young son caring about Ohtani’s mammoth home runs, not what he says or doesn’t say off the field. “That is the language that sells itself to fans,” Passan said. He also said that Ohtani “is the sort of person who this show and who this network and who this country should embrace. We are not the ones who should be trafficking in ignorance.”

Lee, who was born in Korea and raised outside Boston, spoke to Smith on the phone Monday night. On “First Take,” he talked about how Smith’s comments landed in the Asian and Asian American communities. “The fact that this is even a controversy speaks to the larger fact that so much of the western media, American media, us at ESPN, are so unprepared to talk about Asian Americans in a nuanced way that speaks authentically to our experience in this country,” Lee said.

Smith is ESPN’s most visible commentator, working on NBA and UFC coverage in addition to “First Take.” He appears on ESPN’s morning show, “Get Up!” and hosts a show on streaming service ESPN Plus. Smith is also the network’s highest paid employee, with recent reports putting his compensation in the $12 million range, including payments to his production company.

He has come under fire for controversial comments in the past, earning a suspension in 2014 for suggesting victims of domestic violence shouldn’t “provoke” the men abusing them.

Smith’s comments about Ohtani and the blowback to them come a little more than a week after ESPN was roiled by a leaked video of Rachel Nichols, a host of the network’s NBA coverage, making disparaging comments about colleague Maria Taylor. Nichols, who is White, suggested Taylor, who is Black, earned a promotion to host NBA Finals coverage because ESPN was trying to correct its record on diversity in the wake of national protests and conversations following the killing of George Floyd.

Nichols was recorded in a private phone call without her knowledge. In the video, she says those hosting duties were contractually her responsibility, according to the recording that was obtained by the New York Times. That story was published days ahead of Taylor’s expiring contract and prompted a rebuke from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the National Association of Black Journalists, as well as a flurry of coverage and commentary. Nichols was removed as the sideline reporter during the NBA Finals but delivered her own apology on the air last week. The futures of Taylor and Nichols at ESPN remain uncertain.

After the Times story, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro sent a staff-wide email in which he highlighted several companywide diversity initiatives. An ESPN spokesman said the note was already in the works before the Nichols controversy.

“[W]e have a much better story than what you’ve seen this week,” he wrote, citing mentorship efforts at the network and stats such as the fact that of the 116 of ESPN’s new hires this year, 52 percent have been people of color.

“By being proud of this progress,” Pitaro added, “we’re not trying to minimize how people are feeling.”

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Read full article at InsideHook

ESPN Host Stephen Smith Apologizes

Inside Edition 14 July, 2021 - 06:29pm

Could Jeremy Chinn be the Shohei Ohtani of the NFL?

Sports Illustrated 14 July, 2021 - 06:29pm

Making the big leagues is challenging enough playing one position. Playing two positions and excelling at it takes a special type of talent. Folks in the baseball industry have begun making comparisons of Shohei Ohtani to the legendary Babe Ruth and it's not hard to see why. Organizations will tinker with the idea of having players play both sides of the ball down in the minor leagues but typically they start to shine on one side and they are relieved of their two-way duties. 

This week, Ohtani became the first player ever to participate in the MLB Home Run Derby and also be named a starting pitcher for the All-Star Game. He did not disappoint. Despite being eliminated in the first round of the derby by Washington's Juan Soto, Ohtani put on a show. He struggled out of the gate but found his groove in the final minute or so to tie things up, forcing a swing-off. Ohtani and Soto tied yet again in the swing-off before Ohtani hit a grounder in the 2nd swing-off which eliminated him.

Ohtani's dominance in baseball got the folks over at the NFL Network wondering who could be the Shohei Ohtani of the NFL. Michael Robinson and Lorenzo Alexander threw out a few names that have the ability to play both offense and defense, including Carolina Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn.

"This dude can ball," Robinson said. "He may be one of the most versatile players in the National Football League. I could see him playing running back. I can see him carrying the football, I can see him playing wide receiver, and I guarantee you the guy can probably throw the football as much as he's around the football. The guy had two forced fumbles for two touchdowns on defense. I think this guy could be one of the first guys that could play both sides of the football. I think he would be a hell of a wide receiver."

Although it is very unlikely that Chinn will play both sides of the ball to the extent Ohtani is doing it in baseball, it would be pretty fun to watch. He certainly has the speed, quickness, and hands to be a running back or receiver. We've already seen a glimpse of what Chinn can do with the ball in his hands when he was called on for the fake punt against the Atlanta Falcons.

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