February 22, 2024


Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, a sports radio legend and ESPN personality, took some heat over a comment he made when talking about Shohei Ohtani’s free agency.

Ohtani has not chosen a team yet and reportedly has preferred to keep his meetings with baseball executives private as he goes through the process. The procedure has ruffled feathers in the media, and Russo was the latest to speak out on it Wednesday.

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Shohei ohtani in the dugout

Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani, #17, in the dugout during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, Sept. 30, 2023. (Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports)

“The fact we’re even discussing this is a complete joke,” Russo said on “First Take.” “You know when he won the MVP, he wouldn’t even tell you what his dog’s name was? Anybody who pays Ohtani $600 million needs their heads examined anyway. He’s not gonna pitch next year. He’s a DH. And tell me this: with Ohtani, how many times were the Angels in the pennant race in the middle of September? They won 73 games last year; he missed the last 25 games.”

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“And what is the big secret? Jeez, he’s a free agent! He’s talked to six teams. … 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, some way if you reveal that you had a breakfast with Ohtani, you should be basically thrown out with the bath water.”

Chris Russo in 2017

Chris Russo, pictured here, and Mike Francesa of “Mike and the Mad Dog” get together for a SiriusXM Town Hall hosted by Chazz Palminteri at SiriusXM Studios on July 6, 2017 in New York City. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Russo’s “atomic bomb” remark appeared to refer to the shroud of secrecy around the Manhattan Project and the J. Robert Oppenheimer-led undertaking to design the bombs that were later dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Ohtani is from Japan.

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MLB fans seeing the clip on X called the remark “awful.”

“Leave it to Chris Russo to use the analogy of the atomic bomb to a Japanese baseball player. My gawd, @ESPN, WTF?” AnglesWin.com wrote.

Shohei Ohtani fans

Fans of Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani hope to see their idol before he faces the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California, Sept. 2, 2023. (D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports)

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Ohtani has reportedly drawn interest from the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs. He may make his final decision by the end of the week.



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