OPINION: Racism should have no place in baseball


Amelia Tai

Racism in the MLB is not only harmful to Ohtani, but to the Asian-American community as whole.

Japanese baseball player Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is on the rise due to his immense talent in both pitching and hitting. Nevertheless, he continues to experience racism because of his ethnicity and limited English. 

Ohtani made his debut in the MLB in 2012 after coming from Nippon Professional Baseball, the highest level of baseball in Japan. Since then, Ohtani has become well-known as the Angels’s two-way superstar.

Ohtani’s talent led him to be the face of baseball, but some object to this due to reasons besides athletic ability. Stephen A. Smith, American Sports television personality, believes that the face of baseball is meant to attract people to get into the sport and that Ohtani is not the right person due to his limited English. 

When speaking on ESPN, Smith said, “When you talk about an audience gravitating to the tube or to the ballpark . . . I don’t think it helps that the number one face is a dude that needs an interpreter.”

Baseball is about whether or not the player can play well, not what language they speak or where they are from. The MLB is international, and even though it is mainly dominated by U.S. players, people born outside of the U.S. should not be treated differently.

Jack Morris, Detroit Tigers’s commentator and hall of fame pitcher, was answering play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard’s question on how the Tigers should approach Ohtani coming up to bat, saying, “be very, very careful” in a mock Asian accent. 

Although Ohtani said he did not take these actions personally, he should not be experiencing or having to deal with racism and cruelty in the first place. Instead of seriously answering the question, Morris disrespected Ohtani by mocking him.

These actions are not just degrading to Ohtani but to many Japanese, Asian and foreign players. In the eyes of many, baseball is an American sport. However, it is not. International sports should bring people together, not exclude people or allow others to be disrespectful.

People of all ethnicities and backgrounds should feel welcome and included in U.S. baseball, especially since they welcome the best players all over the world. Without international players, the MLB cannot call the season finale the World Series. Seeing a player of the same race as themselves can push people to believe that no matter what, they can succeed. The cruel words and actions towards Ohtani, however, leads to discouragement and takes a toll on many, not just the player. 

Ohtani’s talents have been proved by his 45 home runs so far, his earned running average at 3.18, and many other achievements in this season alone. But even with his capabilities, disappointingly, Ohtani’s ethnicity still remains to be the center of attention for a few.