Nashville sound official offends with Asian-themed music
By Ethen Lieser
Iowa Cubs Hee Sop Choi was greeted with Asian-themed music in Nashville.
Almost anything goes at a minor league baseball game. Here, the game has no one else to please but the fans. Most of the time, there are no television cameras, no Jack Bucks or Tim McCarvers being smitten with viewers. In between innings, kids can round the bases for a chance to win an autographed baseball. Or maybe they have to eat the most hot dogs on the pitchers mound. Yes, almost anything goes at a minor league baseball game almost.
During a Triple-A Pacific Coast League match-up between the Iowa Cubs and the Nashville Sounds in Nashville, Tenn., sound official Brian Kirsch walked the tightrope of good and bad taste. This time, he fell hard. After playing funk classic Kung Fu Fighting and David Bowies China Girl before Cubs South Korean slugger Hee Seop Chois at-bats during the Aug. 10-13 series, Kirsch was fired.
The Iowa Cubs organization, affiliated with Major League Baseballs Chicago Cubs, said Choi will not comment on this matter.
I have not spoken to [Choi] about it, nor has he or anyone else in the locker room come to me or said anything to me about it, said Cubs General Manager Sam Bernabe.
In addition, Kirsch played the song Tequila and a clip that made reference to burritos when another Cubs hitter, Pee Wee Lopez, batted. The Iowa Cubs do not play music for the visiting team in their home field in Des Moines, except on rare occasions, such as for former Cubs players.
As soon as [the Hee Seop Choi situation] was brought to the attention of management, we took immediate action and terminated Brian Kirsch, said Glenn Yaeger, the chief operating officer of the Nashville Sounds. The Nashville Sounds do not condone in any way, shape, or fashion anything that goes against somebodys beliefs, ethnicity or religion.
The racially-tinged situation in Nashville wasnt the first occurrence of its kind in professional baseball this season. Earlier this year, Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners was pelted by coins and ice during a game in Oakland, citing further evidence of work that needs to be done even after Jackie Robinson broke baseballs color barrier 54 years ago.
Im glad to hear that the individual responsible was held accountable for his ignorant and insensitive actions, said Mindy Kim of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium. But sadly, in a broader picture, this incident is a reflection of the depth of ignorance by the general public toward Asians and their diversities, and that people still dont understand why incidents like these offend Asian people.
Moreover, there is a continued influx of Asian and Asian Pacific Islander American athletes impacting major American sports today a change that is hard to swallow for many traditionalists.
It probably has to do with a superiority complex, said Soo Lim, the owner of a software consulting company in Newport Beach and an avid Korean American sports fan. In sports, most fans will go after the weakest characteristic. They like to play mental games to get the edge. Being an Asian person, since there arent many out there like you, theyll pick on you for that. You try to screw them up by pointing that out.
According to The Associated Press, Kirsch had been warned by fellow employees about going too far. But Kirsch said he had the right to pick the songs that he deemed fit.
I dont know that that was any more offensive to him than anything else Ive played for any of the other guys, Kirsch said to The (Nashville) Tennessean. My wife is from Thailand. My job was to push the envelope, unbalance the other team and entertain the crowd. I dont regret anything I did.
Choi, 22, the starting first baseman of the Cubs, is hitting .242 with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs this season. Baseball America ranked him as the 22nd best prospect in the minor leagues. The 6-foot-5 grad of Korea University is slated to be the Chicago Cubs first baseman of the future.
Reach Ethen Lieser at firstname.lastname@example.org.