Jack Morris' Accented Comment About Shohei Ohtani on Live TV Backfires

In the sixth inning of a rather humdrum Major League Baseball game Tuesday night, a comment made by a Detroit Tigers TV broadcaster about the upcoming batter, Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, drew the ire of many, making it the biggest MLB story of the week so far.

Jack Morris, a Hall of Fame pitcher who's a color analyst for the Tigers, said the Tigers should "be very, very careful" when pitching to Ohtani in the upcoming at-bat. Morris didn't say it with his regular tone, but something more modified.

Many thought Morris was making fun of the Asian community. By the ninth inning, as Ohtani came to the plate again, Morris apologized.

Jack Morris apologies before Shohei Otani's at-bat in the ninth inning. pic.twitter.com/WdCjfyfSvX

— Spencer Wheelock (@SpencerWheelock) August 18, 2021

During the sixth inning, with a 2-2 game, Angels outfielder Juan Lagares had just struck out to bring Ohtani to the plate with two outs and a runner on second, Tigers play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard asked Morris, "Now, what do you do with Ohtani?"

Morris, in a shifty accent, said, "Be very, very careful."

The Tigers did, indeed, intentionally walk Ohtani, who leads the majors with 39 home runs this season. Morris, a 2019 Hall of Fame inductee who won 254 career games as a pitcher and was a four-time All-Star with the Tigers, apologized on the air in the ninth when Ohtani came to the plate again.

"It's been brought to my attention, and I sincerely apologize if I offended anybody, especially anybody in the Asian community, for what I said about pitching and being careful to Shohei Ohtani," said Morris, who's now in his second go round as the team's TV color analyst. "I did not intend for any offensive thing and I apologize if I did. I certainly respect and have the utmost respect for this guy."

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels watches a foul ball while playing the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 13, 2021 in Anaheim, California. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

This comes a little more than a month when Ohtani was deemed the new "face of baseball," only for that moniker to be blasted by Stephen A. Smith, a co-host of ESPN's First Take.

Smith said the face of baseball should not be a "dude that needs an interpreter."

"I understand that baseball is an international sport itself in terms of participation," Smith said at the time. "But when you talk about an audience, gravitating to the tube, or to the ballpark, I don't think it helps that the number one face, is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he's saying, in this country!"

Smith later apologized, and he still has his job at ESPN.

Bally Sports did not respond for comment late Tuesday night.

The Tigers are 58-63 this season, more than 12 games back from the Chicago White Sox in the American League's Central division. The Angels are 60-61, 11 back from the Houston Astros in the AL West.

The Angels defeated the Tigers on Tuesday, 8-2.