Stephen A. Smith snaps back at former MLB pitcher who called him 'racist' for blasting Mike Trout after injury

The war of words between Stephen A. Smith and Jonathan Papelbon has continued.

The former Boston Red Sox closer went off on Smith after he criticized Mike Trout’s lack of availability following the three-time MVP’s meniscus injury.

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


Stephen A Smith at IST

Stephen A. Smith said he was “disgusted” with Mike Trout’s lack of availability. (Mike Kirschbaum/NBAE via Getty Images)

“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 week. “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?”

Papelbon caught wind of Smith’s rant, which led him to calling the media personality “racist” and “xenophobic.”

“That’s not what the game needs. 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,” Papelbon said earlier this week on the “Foul Territory” podcast.

Well, Smith threw the punches back.

Stephen A Smith in 2024

Stephen A. Smith at SXSW Sports Track on March 11, 2024, in Austin, Texas. (Seth Reissig/Sportico via Getty Images)


“I didn’t even know you were a contributor to a podcast until this morning. 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.

Smith refuted Papelbon’s claims that Smith was banned from the Philadelphia Phillies locker room, saying that has “never happened in any sport.”

But it took it a step further.

“I’ve never had any discipline action exacted against me. Because I have never been professionally unethical in my career. 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.”

Smith then addressed the “racist” claim.

“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.

Stephen A. Smith reacts to pitch

Stephen A. Smith reacts after throwing a ceremonial first pitch before the New York Yankees game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21, 2023 in the Bronx. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)


“I’m a Black man. We have a history of experiencing racism. And a lot of times, those experiences comes 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.”

For what it’s worth, Trout played in just 82 games last year after playing in 119 in 2022 and 36 in 2021. He hasn’t played in over 140 games since 2016 (but still won an MVP in 2019).

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