“My Stuff Wasn’t Bad”: Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s Translator Stumbles Through Explaining Dodgers’ Pitcher’s Frustration at His Performance Against Giants

Published 05/14/2024, 12:30 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

At Dodger Stadium, under the glare of floodlights, two Yoshinobu Yamamoto stories played out on Monday night. The first featured a star pitcher amid an epic battle against the San Francisco Giants, and there was also another part that showed how he struggled to communicate his feelings through a translator who was speaking in tongues.

Yamamoto’s night on the mound encapsulated his entire season thus far; moments of brilliance were punctuated with instances of fragility. He fanned six Giants, displaying an electric repertoire, but coughed up four runs, including a depleting three-run blast by Luis Matos. In the end, though, his team’s bats bailed him out as they scored five runs in extra innings to secure a 6-4 triumph.

However, Yamamoto’s post-game disappointment couldn’t be masked by the final score of the game. A competitor burdened by his performance falling short of his own lofty standards emerged from the words he spoke via an interpreter. “Although my personal record result wasn’t, of course, not satisfied…” he began, it hinted at linguistic dodges that could be expected.


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Then came the pièce de résistance: “I think, um, my stuff wasn’t bad, but that um, in the situation I had to hold them zero and then with my balls hanging, and then uh, they took advantage of it.” It became an instant social media sensation for being both bizarre and oddly poetic. Was it misinterpreted? Was it cultural? Or was it just raw, unfiltered emotion from Yoshinobu Yamamoto?

Whatever its purpose may have been, this statement did sum up what happened—glorious defeat or maybe blurry joy—the Los Angeles Dodgers won thanks to Mookie Betts’ heroics, among others like Kiké Hernandez and Will Smith. However, much more should have been done by Yamamoto individually as well as with his remarks following the match.

Of course, most of the blame did not fall squarely on Yamamoto. On the other side, Jordan Hicks performed very well for the Giants, and the Dodgers’ batters were silent till late innings. However, it was Yamamoto’s problems and his interpreter’s subsequent struggles to explain them that became the main topic of the post-game interview.

Lost in translation? Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s interpreter under fire amidst growing fan frustration

Yoshihiro Sonoda saw his name in the light for all the wrong reasons as he struggled to convey messages between Yamamoto and the English press. His translations were often stilted with grammatical errors, and long, awkward pauses left many people asking for more.

Talking about “balls hanging,” this is just another in a series of errors during interviews that have plagued Yoshinobu Yamamoto this year. Fans are increasingly irritated by what they see as Sonoda’s inability to communicate accurately on behalf of the pitcher. Some even suggest that there is a need to replace him so that the star player of the Dodgers may be a better articulator who could blend with his playing brilliance.


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All together, this raises major issues related to interpreters working in professional sports settings. Is it enough for them to translate words, or should they also be able to go beyond mere language and deal with shades of meaning? Should they understand the sport being covered so that jargon and technical terms can be correctly interpreted?


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In fact, for this one, the answer is a definite yes. In a sport where an interview with a player is an essential part of the fan experience, an interpreter becomes indispensable. They work as the bridge between athletes and audiences, the medium through which emotions, ideas, and strategies can be shared. Such a poor bridge connection affects the entire communication process.

Currently, there are no comments from the Dodgers regarding Sonoda’s replacement. But one thing is clear: they have to find a remedy for this fast. Yoshinobu Yamamoto should get an interpreter who does justice to his abilities both on and off the field. Until then, there will still be the case of balls hanging out as a grim reminder of how important it is to communicate clearly in baseball as it has become globalized.


Written by

Shrabana Sengupta

One Take at a Time
Shrabana Sengupta is an MLB writer at EssentiallySports. Shrabana shot to fame when she covered two prime MLB events: the 2023 World Series and the Free Agency that followed. During the 2023 World Series, Shrabana wrote her unfeigned perspectives on the Texas Rangers’ Corey Seager and his wife, the 27x World Series Champions’ heartbreaking season, and later covered Shohei Ohtani’s highly anticipated record-breaking contract in 2023-24.
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Edited by

Riya Singhal