- Shohei Ohtani has opted for a cautious approach as he considers his next move
- But that irked Chris Russo, who ranted about the MLB star while on First Take
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
ESPN First Take co-host Chris Russo has sparked outrage by referencing the atomic bomb in a rant criticizing Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani is currently in free agency after a sensational previous season in MLB with the Los Angeles Angels and has been mooted by some as being worth a $600million contract due to his pitching and hitting ability.
The 29-year-old has kept his cards close to his chest during negotiations and while there are a number of teams that would be thrilled with signing him, Ohtani’s own preferences are unclear. He is renowned as a deeply private person.
And that is much to the chagrin of Russo, nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’, as he addressed one of baseball’s biggest talking points on Wednesday with a deeply insensitive analogy.
‘The fact that we’re even discussing this is a complete joke,’ Russo shouted as co-host Stephen A. Smith stayed silent. ‘This Ohtani scenario sweepstakes – did you know when he won the MVP he wouldn’t even tell you what his dog’s name was? Because he had his dog there when he won the American League MVP.
Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo (right) went on a rant about Shohei Ohtani’s free agency approach
Russo made a reference comparing Japan star Ohtani’s approach to the atomic bomb
After an extraordinary 2023, Ohtani has been linked with a $600m contract with his next team
‘Anybody who pays Ohtani $600million needs their heads examined anyway. He’s not going to pitch next year (after having surgery on his right elbow – his throwing arm – in September). He’s a DH (designated hitter).
‘And what is the big secret? Jeez, he’s a free agent. He’s talked to six teams – Giants, a meeting with the Blue Jays, Cubs are in the mix, the Angels. What is this, the atomic bomb? We’re not allowed to find out?
‘This is baseball! He’s a celebrity! This is what it’s about. This is stupid, that somehow, someway, if you reveal that you had a breakfast with Ohtani, you should be basically thrown out with the bathwater.’
Two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan by the United States during World War II, killing over 200,000 people.
He continued with another World War II reference: ‘The idea that we have to treat this as the peace talks in Tehran in World War II is ridiculous – when Stalin and Roosevelt and Churchill got together. It drives me absolutely crazy.’
The clip of Russo’s rant was soon circulating around social media and many fans were uncomfortable with his remarks.
‘Absolutely wild to mention the atomic bomb when talking about a Japanese player,’ one fan said on X.
Another wrote in response: ‘He’s gone too far. this shouldn’t be accepted.’
The 29-year-old Ohtani hit 44 home runs in 2023 but also has prodigious skill as a pitcher
Fans were quick to call out Russo for his comments about Ohtani on Wednesday
A different fan said: ‘The atomic bomb? What a weird reference to bring up when discussing the most prolific Japanese athlete in the US right now.
‘Just nonsense rambling regardless. One of the worst clips this show has produced for sure.’
Russo, 64, has not yet responded to any criticism of his comments.