This morning on ESPN’s First Take, co-host Stephen A. Smith apologized for comments he made on the show yesterday regarding Angels player Shohei Ohtani:
The comments yesterday centered on Smith’s opinion that despite his skills as both pitcher and hitter, Ohtani was ill-suited for being the public face of baseball due not to his race, but rather his continued use of an interpreter:
“I understand that baseball is an international sport itself in terms of participation, but when you talk about an audience gravitating to the tube or to the ballpark, to actually watch you, 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 in this country(.)”
Later in the day, Smith offered a clarification:
On my earlier comments about Ohtani pic.twitter.com/FM0vnDDXBB
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 12, 2021
It proved insufficient, hence the apology today.
Aside from the standard denial of reality regarding recent violent assaults against Asians — note Smith’s comment (“ … had to deal with the anti-Asian stuff going on; the Asian hate that’s been percolating in this nation over the last few years — and we all know to some degree why that is”) — the entire episode reeks of utter failure by those crying outrage and letting slip the tweets of butthurt to properly combat such moments with the most effective weapon at their disposal. Namely, laughter.
The art of lampooning stereotypes so as to expose their ludicrous nature is beautifully done in this Oakland A’s ad from several years ago featuring Yoenis Céspedes, whom I shall never forgive the A’s for trading for Jon Lester (but that’s another story):
Laughter disarms the enemy, even as it empowers the one who laughs, as Dave Chappelle recently discussed with Joe Rogan:
All it would take is one even semi-creative ad agency, and Ohtani being interested in adding more zeros to his bank account balance, to completely blow away any and all notion that he cannot be the face of baseball. It would also help if the Angels, despite both Ohtani and the currently injured Mike Trout’s presence, were something more than a .500 ball club forever chasing the Astros and A’s.
Race, especially to younger fans, is no barrier to embracement. The steadily increasing number of kids wearing Fernando Tatis Jr. jerseys could care less that he’s from the Dominican Republic, not to mention how if they are a product of public education they are 99.44% guaranteed unable to find it (or for that matter San Diego) on a map. They love him because he bashes massive home runs, flips his bat, and exudes pure joy. It is the same principle that guides girls and Disney princesses, a principle Disney continuously fails to grasp. It doesn’t matter if the girl is white, black, brown, yellow, red, or any other hue. It doesn’t matter if the princess is white, black, brown, yellow, red, or any other hue. Girls love princesses with magic powers. Period. Nothing else matters.
Was Smith wrong? Yes. Was it something worthy of knotted knickers? Again, no. Once again, we see the Society for the Perpetually Perturbed’s utter lack of humor and omnipresent inability to handle so much as someone looking at them sideways. Instead, they feel the need to embrace incessant outrage and hurt feeweeings, boring pontifications in lieu of proper reaction. Namely, laugh it off and get on with something other than all-race-all-the-time. When that is all one brings to the table, one brings nothing other than cancel culture continuing to eat its own.