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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Stephen A. Smith claps back at Jonathan Papelbon after ‘racist’ claim

Stephen A. Smith responded to Jonathan Papelbon’s claim that he’s “racist” and “xenophobic” during a 12-minute segment on “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” blasting the former MLB closer for lying and pushing back on the allegation that he was kicked out of the Phillies clubhouse.

“What do you mean I was thrown out of a Major League Baseball clubhouse,” Smith said. “I have been a reporter and a sports commentator for 30 years. That has never happened in any sport. I’ve never been thrown out of a locker room. I’ve never been thrown out of a clubhouse. … That is a lie. Now, I could sue your ass for lying, telling such a lie like that. But I won’t. I won’t waste my time.

The feud dated back to when Smith — earlier in the week on ESPN’s “First Take”— criticized Angels star Mike Trout following his torn meniscus, questioning why the outfielder always seemed to be hurt and why he “can’t stay healthy playing baseball.”

Stephen A. Smith addressed Jonathan Papelbon during his show.
Stephen A. Smith addressed Jonathan Papelbon during his show. Screengrab via YouTube

Papelbon then appeared on the “Foul Territory” show on Thursday, describing Smith as a “complete joke and really shady” and more “narcissistic than Donald Trump.”

“I challenge ESPN to do something about it,” Papelbon said during his appearance. “I challenge ESPN to either fire him or cut his pay or do something about it, because honestly nobody wants to listen to his s–t. Because everybody knows that it’s just for likes, it’s just for followers, he really doesn’t actually know what he’s saying … this is just another idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Smith, who left the Philadelphia Inquirer for a second time in 2010, responded by saying that he wasn’t in the clubhouse by the time Papelbon signed with the Phillies following the 2011 season.

He added that the pair have never spoken to each other. 

“I think that when people bring up the word racist, if they looked at you and I sitting together, I think they would look at you before they looked at me,” Smith said. “I’ve never talked about you. You’re irrelevant. At least until today.”

Smith theorized that Papelbon called him “xenophobic” due to his comment in 2021 that Shohei Ohtani shouldn’t be the face of MLB because he “needs an interpreter” — it was “harming the game,” Smith said at the time. 

In his response to Papelbon, Smith recalled that he brought ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan and former ESPN reporter Joon Lee onto the network’s show “to speak out against me.”

Jonathan Papelbon called Stephen A. Smith "racist" and "xenophobic" during an appearance on "Foul Territory."
Jonathan Papelbon called Stephen A. Smith “racist” and
“xenophobic” during an appearance on “Foul Territory.” Screengrab via X/@@FoulTerritoryTV

Smith then mentioned his controversial comments about Trout and explained some of the numbers — his missed games, his contract that runs through 2030, his lack of a postseason win as a reason why he should be allowed to explore playing for another team — behind them, before directly addressing Papelbon one final time in the video.

“And because I mention that, you would go on the air, Papelbon, knowing nothing about me, and you would call me a racist,” Smith said. “I’m a black man. We have a history of experiencing racism. And a lot of times, those experiences come courtesy of people who look like you. And I would never think to call you a racist. What you said is wrong, is irresponsible, is petty, and if it was to get a reaction, it’s desperate. Because now that you don’t have your playing career to lean on anymore, I guess you need help in other areas. 

“That’s about the most you’re gonna get from me. Be a grown-up, bro. The things that you said about me sound like a damn racist, and I still wouldn’t call you that unless I was sure.”

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