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Plenty of Blame to Go Around in Stephen A. Smith–Shohei Ohtani Controversy: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. Stephen A. Smith has taken a public thumping for 24 hours after making offensive comments about Shohei Ohtani.

On Monday’s First Take, the hot taker said, “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.”

The backlash was swift and Smith later put out one of those hostage apology videos where the person’s face is about an inch from their phone while they ramble and try to cover their ass, but instead, just make things worse.

Even later, Smith offered another apology. This time, he swapped hostage video apology for iPhone Notes app apology.

At least that apology was actually an apology and seemed sincere.

This is neither here nor there, but while Smith’s original comments were offensive, they were also just wrong. Ohtani has been the most-talked-about player in the majors this season. And if there is any “problem” with Ohtani, it’s not that he doesn’t speak English; it’s that he plays for the Angels.

Mike Trout speaks English and nobody in the U.S. cares about him.

So the comments were offensive AND dumb.

However, Stephen A. shouldn’t be the only person taking the heat. People at First Take knew what he was going to say. The segment was planned. The segment was teased. The segment was promoted.

That’s how the show works. And the goal of every hot take show is to get attention. Normally, they want to get attention and generate content by saying something crazy or outlandish but not offensive. This time, they got crazy, outlandish and offensive.

And they got another day of content.

Do I think Stephen A. Smith, the producers of First Take or ESPN executives are upset about what happened Monday?


2. This year's NBA Finals between the Suns and Bucks continue to produce significantly fewer viewers than the 2019 Finals between the Warriors and Raptors.

What's staggering to me when you see numbers like that, though, is just how much the pandemic wreaked havoc on viewership last season. Three million people have come back to the Finals this year after blowing them off last season. And that number would be higher if the NBA Finals were taking place in June like they normally do.

3. Gregg Popovich got super salty with a reporter Monday after Team USA lost to Australia.

4. I've said this a million times on the SI Media Podcast over the past several months: If you're a sports fan who likes ALL sports, you are going to pay and pay severely.

ESPN+ is raising its price from $6 to $7 per month.

5. The Emmy nominations came out Tuesday morning. Many of you will be happy to see Ted Lasso was nominated for Best Comedy, but even more notable is a nomination for Cobra Kai.

6. The latest SI Media Podcast features an interview with ESPN's Sean McDonough. The veteran play-by-play man talks about why he wanted the job as the network's lead NHL voice, why it didn't work out for him calling Monday Night Football, whether he feels underrated among elite play-by-play broadcasters, his famous voice cracks and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on AppleSpotify or Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: The opening video package to Monday night's Home Run Derby, narrated by Billy Crystal, was very cool.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.