Kosuke--You may have made a terrible mistake

>> Friday

When Kosuke Fukudome first signed with the Cubs, I was a little worried that Chicago, historically one of the more segregated and racially insensitive major cities in the U.S., would not treat his arrival with the tact and maturity expected of human adults--especially playing in front of what is collectively one of the more obnoxious fanbases in sports.

Of course, those worries have proven resoundingly justified. I guess with the combination of being the first Japanese-born player to play for the Cubs and having a last name that kinda sorta sounds like a naughty word, some grade-A crassness was an inevitability. And that's not to say I'm totally innocent.

Having said that, I'd like to think that among our few readers, there's a mutual understanding that none of us think of foreign-born players as novelties, but as fellow intelligent human beings who are to be regarded for their personal qualities and talents. The same can't necessarily be said of a big-budget radio station that reaches people of all demographics within a sixty-mile radius of Chicago.

So I was a little bothered by a sweeper I heard earlier on WJMK (the same radio station that caused a minor ruckus a few months back with Steve Dahl's "Win a date with Drew Peterson" gag). It went something like:

"We're still trying to figure out how to say the Cubs' new Japanese player's last name without getting in trouble with the FCC."

Maybe I'm reading too much into something that's entirely harmless. But I'm gonna guess that no one from the WJMK marketing department spoke to Kosuke to see if he was cool with that. And if I can speculate some more, I'd guess that Kosuke is still struggling to adjust to Chicago and the challenge of finding people he can relate to as he goes about his daily business. On top of that, he doesn't need to put up with publicly being made a punchline and a novelty among a circle that knows nothing about him outside of baseball.

Maybe Kosuke would have had to deal with this crap no matter where he signed, and maybe the more innocent stuff like "You got Fuked!" doesn't bother him. But it also might. At the very least, I don't think any person in any job or any club wants to be recognized principally as "the Japanese guy" or "the chick" or "the old dude." And the more singularly you possess that trait, the more it must suck.


Patrick 7:29 PM  

I wanted to comment about this thing awhile back. But Jeez, people need to seriously get thicker skin. Everyone is so damn touchy these days. Sure, the tee shirt may have been somewhat classless, but those people who were bitching and moaning about being offended need to get a life. They are the reason everyone has to walk on egg shells from now on; worried we might somewhat distantly offend someone. To the Irish fellas out there, are you personally offended when you see the ND logo on NBC every Saturday? To the Italianos, are you troubled at night by James Gandolfini's representation of your heritage? The list goes on and on. Yes the shirt was tactless, but even Kosuke himself didn't give a flying F... about the shirt, everyone else did.

Anonymous,  6:36 AM  

oh you silly littly cubs fans. To be clear this is not a Chicago thing. Shingo Takatsu and Tadahito Iguchi played for the Sox for years without anything even approaching an incident or newsworthy story. Marty was totally right.

Vinnie 12:09 PM  

Pat--Did you read the article?

''I don't know what the creator of the shirt meant this to be, but they should make it right,'' Fukudome said through his interpreter after being shown one of the shirts Thursday. ''Maybe the creator created it because he thought it was funny, or maybe he made it to condescend the race. I don't know."

I'm not sure it's "distantly offedning" someone when you're directly offending the individul. The ND/Gandolfini analogies have nothing to do with this situation.

Also, I thought of Takatsu and Iguchi when I was writing that, but there may be some difference in that neither of those guys were billed as stars nor came with the same level of hype. And that first sentence--although not clear about it--was meant to pin this on the Cubs fanbase specifically.

Patrick 6:58 PM  
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Patrick 7:03 PM  
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Patrick 7:05 PM  
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