New Cubs infielder, Munenori Kawasaki, was thrown a party by his teammates and manager, Joe Maddon. Before letting out the “Aww” on how wonderful it is that the Cubs are making this eight-time Japanese league All-Star feel welcome in a new city and team, let’s take a look at this so-called “Welcome party.”
The Chicago Sun-Times covered the Cubs Friday pre-workout stretch on March 4, and there were some interesting choices made in this “Japanese-themed event.”
With all the players and field staff donning samurai headbands, this isn’t exactly a new thing for the Cubs. Back when Japanese baseball player, Kosuke Fukudome, was signed with the Cubs, fans were seen wearing these headbands and even rice hats in the stands. However, the Cubs team seemed to stand behind their player when it came to these controversial apparel items, including Fukudome shirts imitating an Asian accent with the script, “Horry Kow” on it.
At the time, the Chicago Sun-Times released a statement made by Fukudome regarding the racially insensitive controversy, and he stated, “I knew I was coming to a different country, so I expected something like this. Maybe not necessarily racial, but that anybody could take any context of my words and degrade me if they wanted to. But if I make a big deal out of it, it’s not going to benefit me, so I’m not going to make a big deal of it.”
Things may be a bit different now for Mumenori Kawasaki if something more could have been done to stop the racial insensitivity at the Cubs. Yet, the festivities didn’t end with just headbands at Friday’s stretch. The actual music played for the workout warmup was “Kung Fu Fighting,” and the rest of the playlist was a mix of everything from Chinese to South Korean music.
Kawasaki was then ushered on stage where he sang karaoke to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.” The video was promptly posted on YouTube, where fans got a big chuckle at the broken English-speaking Kawasaki and all his laughing new teammates.
In this “Black Lives Matter” society where everyone is looking for racial equality, it’s interesting how this type of behavior is accepted against those in the Asian community. While in other situations there would be an immediate response from management and a released statement, the Cubs aren’t reacting like it’s a public relations nightmare. On the other hand, management took full acknowledgement without apology.
Maddon was quoted by the Chicago Sun-Times as saying, “He loves karaoke. We’ve been planning this for a big, and then of course it got more inappropriate as it went along, which made it even better.”
When asked if he planned on doing the karaoke again, Kawasaki said, “No more. No mas.”