‘That Is A Lie’ | Jonathan Papelbon Was Right To Defend Mike Trout After Stephen A. Smith Dissed MLB and Its Biggest Star

Stephen A. Smith’s attack on Mike Trout and the sport of baseball received backlash from former MLB pitcher Jonathan Papelbon. 

The former Boston Red Sox closer went off on Smith after ESPN’s most expensive mouthpiece criticized Mike Trout’s lack of availability following the three-time All-Star’s meniscus injury.

Smith said he was “disgusted with his lack of availability,” asking how Trout could “always” be injured.

Stephen A. Smith Dissed Mike Trout and Major Leage Baseball, Jonathan Papelbon Strikes Back

Smith had a point about Trout not being available the last couple of seasons with injury, but his reasoning for why he doesn’t think Trout should be getting injured was definitely comical. It could be taken as offensive to pro baseball players. 

Papelbon is one of them. 

“It’s baseball, half the time, y’all standing out in the outfield chewing on pumpkin seeds or something…” Smith said on “First Take” earlier this month. “With these oblique injuries, you’re running around bases, catching one, then you’re running out for a fly ball, and all of a sudden, something gets tweaked. What the hell is going on?”

Pap caught wind of Smith’s rant and he lashed back by calling the ESPN star “racist” and “xenophobic,” last week on the “Foul Territory” podcast.

“That’s not what the game needs,” Papelbon. Everybody wants to tune into the media, I get it. But at the end of the day, you have to be responsible for the s— that you say. And unless ESPN holds him accountable for the stupid s— that he says, guess what? He’s going to keep doing it.”

Smith Was Right About Trout’s Injuries, Wrong About Baseball

To be fair to Smith, Trout played in just 82 games last year after playing in 119 in 2022 and just 36 in 2021. The MLB season is 162 games long, but Trout hasn’t played in over 140 games since 2016, despite winning the MVP in 2019. 

The way Smith demeaned him and his injuries and then the sport, the media mogul should have apologized on his podcast. Instead of apologizing for disrespecting baseball players, Smith shot back on the platform that has become a no-holds-barred battleground for Smith to address his haters and detractors. 

“I didn’t even know you were a contributor to a podcast until this morning,” Smith said to Papelbon. But I can go tit for tat with you. What I won’t do is disrespect you to the degree that you just disrespected me,” Smith said on his own podcast episode that was released on Friday.

Papelbon urged ESPN to address Smith and claimed that Smith was banned from the Philadelphia Phillies locker room, which Smith disputed. 

“I’ve never had any disciplinary action taken against me. Because I have never been professionally unethical in my career,” Smith said. “That is a lie. Now, I could sue your a– for telling such a lie like that,” he said. “But I won’t waste my time.”

Stephen A. Smith Suspended In 2014 For Comments On Ray Rice

That’s actually not true.

Smith was suspended for a week back in 2014 for comments made in the aftermath of the Ray Rice elevator incident, where the former NFL running back was caught on video beating up his wife in an elevator.

He also offered an apology on air for his words.

“My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent,” he said. “To say what I actually said was foolish is an understatement. To say I was wrong is obvious. To apologize to say I’m sorry, doesn’t do the matter its proper justice, to be quite honest. But I do sincerely apologize.”

Finally, Smith then addressed the claim that his comments on Trout and baseball were “racist”.

“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,” he 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,” Smith added. “What you said is wrong, irresponsible, it’s 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. … Be a grown-up, bro.”

Stephen A. Smith’s Remarks About Baseball Was Offensive and Demeaning

Smith’s remarks definitely offended a large portion of the baseball community, but to be fair, he isn’t known for his MLB insight. Just take one look at the first pitch he is notorious for throwing and it’s clear he has no history with the game. 

Smith has made a career out of speaking his mind and being controversial, but his influence also can’t be overlooked. and the way he portrayed baseball’s biggest star and minimized the sport itself was classless and immediately incited a discussion about the role of media personalities and how they portray certain players and address injuries.

On one hand, we get why Papelbon was offended. Especially when Smith inferred that Trout’s injuries were a result of karma for staying with the LA Angels.

On the other hand, Smith has criticized a lot more basketball players and called for the jobs of more NFL head coaches. He rarely takes the time to indulge in MLB talk. That’s what Mad Dog Russo is there for on Wednesdays. 

Papelbon was known to be a bit rambunctious as a player and he doesn’t give off the impression that he hangs out with any Black folks. Never did. He does, however, have a point and is justified in striking back at Smith, who tried to make a tasteless joke about a sport that some value above his particular favorite sports. 

Baseball is not one of Smith’s go-to sports. Therefore, it might have been wiser to either skip the segment or let a more informed baseball guy do the talking. 

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