Bomani Jones on Shohei Ohtani Credit: The Right Time with Bomani Jones

Bomani Jones is not buying what Shohei Ohtani and his reps are selling.

The longtime ESPN commentator and host of The Right Time podcast discussed the gambling debt scandal surrounding Ohtani’s interpreter Ippei Mizuhara in an episode released Friday, explaining why he believes MLB fans may be more likely to take Ohtani’s story at face value because of Americans’ reverence for Asian people. Jones even wondered if Ohtani’s reps were purposefully taking advantage of fans’ instincts to trust Ohtani as they handle the fallout.

“The only reason we’re willing to entertain (Ohtani’s side of the story) at all, it’s about the way that we think about Japanese people,” Jones said. “In our largely xenophobic society, our Asian brothers and sisters are so different … they feel more like outsiders to people.”

In particular, Jones emphasized that Americans tend to see successful Asian people as more honorable or respectable than the average American celebrity. The Right Time host then wondered if those views may even come from Hollywood mythmaking.

“We tend to mythologize them in some interesting ways,” Jones said. “I think in large part because we’ve watched all them kung-fu movies. We have a tendency to think of Asians as very solemn and very noble, with a different strain of morality … I think that’s how a lot of people view Asians in our society.”

Jones then reminded the audience that none of this really tracks. It’s no more or less believable that a Calvin Ridley could make a few online bets and be suspended by the NFL than it is that Mizuhara would pile up $4-plus million in gambling debt and ask Ohtani to help him pay it off.

“What I’m saying says nothing about what Asians actually are, because as far as I can tell they are what they call ‘people,'” Jones said. “And people mess up and get caught up in gambling or whatever it is.”

Still, Jones believes Ohtani’s reps are aware of this dynamic and capitalizing on it.

“The ignorance that they are trying to play out right now, you can only think that works if you think these silly Americans are going to believe it,” Jones said.

As usual, Jones is being partly provocative to prove a point. But it’s not unreasonable to see the coverage of Ohtani since he got to the U.S. and during this scandal so far as unique. The reason it’s unique probably does not boil down to one factor, but views of the two-way baseball sensation as an untouchable, larger-than-life figure certainly could stem from cultural differences and perceptions.

[The Right Time with Bomani Jones on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.