By now, Stephen A. Smith has made his thoughts on baseball pretty clear. We know it’s not his priority, even though the First Take star pranced around the ESPN set before Thursday’s show, touting that he would be throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium for tonight’s Yankees-Blue Jays game.
Smith made headlines earlier this week when he claimed that Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar, who brings fans from near and far, isn’t a draw and that he’s not willing to have discussions anymore about him getting half-a-billion dollars because he doesn’t put butts in seats.
A caller by the name of “Fuzzy” took issue with Smith’s claim and called into The Stephen A. Smith Show to express his displeasure. Fuzzy came strapped with some facts and let’s just say, it got a little testy live on the airwaves.
“Just because you’re the fourth-largest in (road) attendance doesn’t do it for me,” Smith told Fuzzy. “If I’m watching the games and I see a bunch of empty seats everywhere, right? If baseball, overall, is having an attendance issue, but you’re fourth on the list, you might be well compared to the competition, but are you doing well? The reason why I ask that question respectfully, and Fuzzy, I’ll give you a chance to respond…
“My issue is that the brother is looking to get paid half a billion dollars. You don’t make the postseason—I’m not saying it’s his fault because he’s a superstar, he’s the modern-day Babe Ruth—but you don’t get to the postseason and I see a whole bunch of empty seats when you are playing, not because of him, but because his team sucks. If I have to take that into consideration, I can lose without paying you. Why pay you, if I’m losing with you? That’s my point, Fuzzy.”
This is the same Smith who had this to say about the Angels earlier this season:
“I’ve been in L.A. quite often. I never hear anybody talking about the Angels,” said Smith. “No one cares. You’re irrelevant, period.”
Keep in mind, David Samson, a former MLB executive best known for his 16-year tenure with the Miami Marlins, recently said that Major League Baseball wants Smith talking about baseball no matter how bad the take is.
But Fuzzy, who has a baseball YouTube channel with over 450k subscribers, is not of that same mindset.
“I just feel like there’s something with you and Ohtani and it dates back to last year…I’m trying to be respectful, but we’re kind of on the fence about you when it comes to your baseball knowledge,” the caller told Smith. We’re just wondering, when it comes to your takes with baseball, we want you to talk about baseball. We want ESPN to bring Baseball Tonight back, we miss it dearly. But the baseball community almost thinks that you speak on feelings and we think, ‘OK, is baseball gonna be done on ESPN?”
Stephen A. wants Fuzzy to do him a favor and tell the baseball community to “shut the hell up.”
Smith, who kept interrupting his caller, erupted when he was interrupted.
“I know baseball, the sport,” Smith explained. “What happens is, because I’m so busy with other sports watching it, I don’t get to watch as much baseball. But the reason why we don’t watch as much baseball, Fuzzy, if you did your homework, is because people don’t care ratings-wise when we’re watching baseball. We’re trying to change that. We love the fact that [Chris] Mad Dog Russo is on it. Mad Dog Russo knows that I know baseball, meaning I know the sport. I just don’t get to watch anything other than the New York Yankees, which is my hometown team, because a lot of the time I’m preoccupied with other sports.
“Secondly and more importantly, when I’m addressing baseball topics, Fuzzy, I’m only addressing stuff that’s really pertinent to the news. I’m not on High Heat on the MLB Network, trying to talk about baseball as if I’m watching every game and I’m an aficionado. I don’t get to do that. That’s why I got mad at the UFC that time when people were saying, ‘Well, you don’t really know the UFC.’ Who the hell said I did? I said I was a fan of the sport. I showed up to an event. I’m the face of ESPN. ESPN said, ‘Could you come on the air with us? Because we want to see what your prediction would be for this fight with Conor McGregor and Cowboy Cerrone.'”
Smith’s claim is that he doesn’t pretend to be a baseball expert. So why should we listen to what he has to say about Ohtani? And that’s precisely why Fuzzy called in to pick a bone with Smith. At least he’s saying the quiet part out loud now.