Ohtani-batter Stephen Smith left ‘disgusted’ by Bronx Boos

Stephen Smith makes the first pitch at the Yankees-Blue Jays game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21, 2023.

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ESPN analyst Stephen Smith made the ceremonial first pitch at the Yankees-Blue Jays game in New York on Thursday evening. While it wasn’t the worst first pitch ever, it certainly wasn’t the best, and fans wasted no time in poking fun at him.

Stephen Smith’s throw didn’t make it to home plate; instead, it bounced about 10 feet before reaching the catcher’s glove. The crowd at Yankee Stadium responded with boos. The MLB analyst appeared disappointed after his brief pitch, but he further engaged in the conversation on social media by sharing a video of the moment on X (formerly known as Twitter), humorously remarking that “it was a changeup!”

Stephen Smith: ‘I am disgusted of myself’

Stephen Smith’s ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium didn’t go as planned. The ESPN host had the honor of throwing the first pitch before Thursday night’s game against the Blue Jays. Despite his efforts, it’s safe to say that Smith won’t be pursuing a career in professional pitching anytime soon.

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Sporting a No. 2 Derek Jeter jersey, Smith took to the pitcher’s rubber, kicked the dirt a bit, and prepared for his throw. He exhibited some decent pitching mechanics during his windup but, unfortunately, the pitch ended up bouncing about 10 feet in front of home plate. This less-than-ideal pitch garnered groans and boos from the crowd in The Bronx.

Stephen Smith later criticized himself:

“I was disgusted with myself, man. Let me tell you something, I was warming up down there, I was throwing strikes from 60 feet away. And I got on that mound, and it looked like it was a mile away. I said, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ There’s no excuse. It was a choke job. I should do better than that. Stephen A. choked a little bit. I just did. It was straight, but damn it, I can do better than that.”

As a devoted Yankees fan, Stephen Smith made his way toward home plate, initially hanging his head in disappointment before looking up with a somewhat sullen expression.

During the YES Network pregame show, Jack Curry provided an analysis of the pitching performance. He commented on the pre-pitch routine, giving it an A-plus grade. He noted the swagger and the choice of wearing the Jeter jersey as positive elements. However, he expressed that everything looked good until the actual moment of releasing the ball, and he empathized with Stephen Smith.

On the YES broadcast, Stephen Smith mentioned that Derek Jeter had advised him not to mess up the pitch and that he had been throwing strikes during warmups, even though the pitch didn’t go as planned.

Michael Kay jokingly suggested that some in the organization might classify Stephen Smith’s pitch as a splitter.

Stephen Smith also pointed out that his pitch didn’t reach the low levels of infamy that 50 Cent’s 2014 Citi Field first pitch did.

Smith’s comment on Ohtani led to tussle with fan

Stephen Smith stirred up a buzz earlier this week with his remarks about Shohei Ohtani, the remarkable two-way superstar of the Los Angeles Angels, whose popularity extends far and wide. He declared that Ohtani isn’t a significant draw and that he’s no longer interested in discussing him because he doesn’t drive attendance numbers.

Stephen Smith offered an unconventional perspective on the multi-talented phenomenon, Shohei Ohtani. He voiced his doubts about Ohtani’s worthiness of the rumored $500 million contract that some speculate he may receive this upcoming winter in free agency.

Stephen Smith makes the first pitch at the Yankees-Blue Jays game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21, 2023.

While Ohtani’s recent elbow surgery, sidelining him from pitching until the 2025 season, played a role in this evaluation, Smith also argued that Ohtani doesn’t merit such a colossal contract because the Angels haven’t achieved much success with him on their roster.

A caller who went by the name “Fuzzy” took exception to Stephen Smith’s assertion and dialed into ‘The Stephen A. Smith Show’ to express his disagreement. Fuzzy came prepared with a set of facts, and let’s just say, things got a bit heated during their live on-air exchange.

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