Stephen A. Smith first pitch: ESPN star’s disastrous toss draws boos from Yankees faithful

Stephen A. Smith is paid to talk about athletes, and he does so about as much as anyone else in the business. But when it comes to mimicking their actions, he’d be better off leaving that to the professionals.

The ESPN star took the mound on Thursday, tipped by the Yankees to throw out the first pitch ahead of their home clash with the Blue Jays. It was an apt appearance; just one day earlier, Smith blasted America’s pastime on his radio show. In his words, the sport — a staple across the world (as evidenced by the marked success of this year’s World Baseball Classic — is an excursion that “people don’t care about.”

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Suffice to say, fans waited with bated breath to see if Smith, a former college basketball player, could perhaps showcase his arm talent on the hill. After all, it’s not like the Bronx Bombers have offered much of anything for spectators to cling onto thus far this campaign.

Smith did not, in fact, have that in his arsenal. With the world watching, Smith fluffed his lines, delivering a 45-foot bounce pass that ricocheted off the turf before falling into his battery’s glove. It was an unconvincing throw, to say the least.

The New York faithful let Smith know just how disheartened they were with his effort, enveloping the momentary hurler in a mosaic of boos. Smith understood the assignment, wallowing in his antagonizers’ enmity; he looked down at the ground before slowly embarking on his pilgrimage to home plate.

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“I was disgusted with myself, man,” Smith told the YES Network booth after the first pitch. 

In fact, Smith may have disgusted a Yankee Goliath in the process. Smith shared that Aaron Judge offered words of encouragement prior to the first pitch, words which he didn’t make good on: “He (Judge) said, ‘Don’t mess this up.'”

To that end, there were plenty of ESPN cohorts who were displeased with Smith’s first pitch, from Dan Orlovsky to Adam Schefter.

Smith’s errant hurl goes into the annals of bad first pitches, taking a spot right next to 50 Cent, John Wall, Travis Kelce, Stephen Curry and others as luminaries to miss the target. Given his comments the day before, it may be the worst of the bunch. Or at least the most ironic.

Smith likely won’t be too bothered, however. All publicity is good publicity. As ESPN’s biggest personality, he knows that better than anyone else.

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