This story is a bit old (almost a week!) but I just came across the other day and it's just too strange to pass up.
Furman Bisher is 89 (90 this November). He's been covering sports for a long long time. Right now he works for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where they've given their columnists their own blogs. In his March 25th entry he decides to make his opinion about how the opening game of the 2008 season is being played by the Red Sox and Athletics in Japan. Did I mention he's 89?
He starts off talking about how the first game of the season has always been played in Cincinnati...
Well, not any longer. Money can change any habit. Eight springs ago the Mets and Cubs opened the season, not in Cincinnati. Guess where? Tokyo. That Tokyo, the guys who gave us Pearl Harbor. Some people don’t like you to bring that up, trade with Japan is so hot. But I’ve got a long memory. I saw what a few bombs can do to our property.
I'm assuming that the entry is supposed to be about tradition but Mr. Bisher just goes all over the place:
A Japanese newspaper chain, Yomiuri, foots the bill for this Oriental excursion. Yomiuri is not exactly the Chicago Tribune of Japanese baseball. Yomiuri owns several teams. The Tribune owns only one team, and that team hasn’t been in a World Series since World War II. (Sorry to have to bring that up again.) Yomiuri’s team has been the Yankees of Japan, and I’m not sure, but I think they call themselves the Giants.
It would be my guess that in Japan, emperors don’t throw out first balls, or even have any kind of presence at such a sweaty game. I saw a game in the Tokyo Dome once, but it was more dome-shaped then. It now appears to have gone oblong to oblige the new long-ball society.
It is standard foreign-blogger-in-japan operating procedure to point out errors such as how the Yomiuiri (yes, they're called the Giants, Mr. Bisher) only owns one team and how the emperor is not really the equivalent of the President of the US (anymore) but Prime Ministers have thrown out first pitches in recent years. Thankfully the rest of the sports blogosphere and Bisher's own commenters take him to task for his inane ramblings.
But it's not just his ranting about the Japanese that's so jarring. There's his odd comment about making baseballs:
So much for tradition, of which about all that remains is that the baseball hides are actually sewed together by hand by ladies in some Latin American country.
Wha? So in addition to being xenophobic he's also a supporter of slave labor? And don't forget that when he refers to "our property" Hawaii was just that to the US at the time: property. Not a state yet. Just some place a bunch of fun-loving plantation owners thought would be a nice place to grow pineapples (NOT native to Hawaii, just to let you know) provided the government help them get rid of that pesky monarchy.
By the way, war is bad. Of course it is. No one who is commenting about this article is going to dispute that part. A lot of people agree with the underlying point of the entry ("Changing tradition is bad.") but the way in which it came off ("Those damn Japanese need to stay off our lawn.") was utterly distasteful.