Mustard on sushi? Relish the thought!


February 07, 1992|By MIKE LITTWIN

Now, it's serious.

They wanted a few of our movie studios, OK. They wanted Rockefeller Center, fine. Pebble Beach, be our guests. Heck, we wish they'd buy Macy's.

But not, not, NOT, no sir, never, one of our baseball teams.

They're trying, though. You probably heard Nintendo of Japan actually wants to buy the Seattle Mariners. Is nothing sacred?

Before you could say Sadaharu Oh, they'd be pushing sushi instead of hot dogs at the ball yard. That wouldn't be so bad, except did you ever try to put mustard and relish on raw fish?

And then they'd want us to install one of those Japanese-made, big-screen things to show replays. . . . Oh, well, I guess we already do buy those, but you know what I mean. They'd probably want us to have crab races on them.

Here's the point: If we lose baseball, we lose the game that virtually defines us as a people. Italy has opera, England drama, France wine and Russia borscht. We've got baseball.

In a last-ditch attempt to save America, baseball owners have put in a rule that says the teams can't have foreign ownership, not including Canada, of course, which is not exactly part of the U.S. of A., but is more like a suburb. I like to think of Canada as just like the U.S., only without surfing.

The man who would be president of the Mariners is named Minoru Arakawa. He was born in Japan, but says he has lived in Seattle for 15 years and suggests that he might be more of a local owner than, let's just say for argument's sake, Eli Jacobs. Or, for that matter, the current Mariners owner, who's from Indianapolis.

Arakawa is the son-in-law of the principal owner of Nintendo, which, it should be pointed out, has ruined the minds of millions of young Americans who play Super Mario Brothers while their Japanese counterparts spend 16 to 18 hours a day in school just so they can kick our butts on math tests.

If Nintendo gets the Mariners, who are located in Seattle, which is where Boeing makes airplanes, which is one of the industries, like baseball, where we're No. 1, there's no telling what the Nintendo people might be able to do to the Boeing executives who attend Mariners games.

Sure, that's pretty paranoid, but is it any more paranoid than the notion that we don't trust the Japanese with our pastoral game?

Would people be upset if someone from France wanted to buy the team (so long as he spoke English and didn't want to put sauce on the hot dogs)? But 61 percent of Americans polled recently said that we shouldn't allow Japanese to buy our baseball teams. I'm guessing they're thinking if the Japanese won't buy our cars, why should we sell them our baseball teams? Actually, on one level, that doesn't make sense. If Nintendo pays $100 million for the Mariners -- this is smart, to pay that much for the Mariners? -- then we chop a cool $.1 billion off the trade deficit.

On the other hand, didn't the Japanese prime minister, on one of the days when he wasn't involved in a scandal, say American workers were lazy? I know that sets my blood to boiling. I personally have written as many as four columns in a single week and am occasionally forced to fly to exotic locales and stay in expensive hotels while living on exorbitant expense accounts in order to cover vitally important ballgames.

Why, I'll match our expense accounts against theirs any day.

Wait, let's calm down. Maybe we are getting too exercised about this. It isn't as if they're buying the Yankees or the Orioles, after all, or some important team. They're just trying to buy the Seattle Mariners.

Let's try to think of the greatest moments in Mariners' history.

Too tough?

OK, let's try to think of any moments in Mariners' history.

What I'm trying to get at is that if they moved the Mariners to, say, Osaka, and signed up the Whammer-san to play first base, who would miss them?

Who would even know they were gone?

Besides, this could be a great opportunity to show what America's made of. Just because the Japanese dominate the VCR market doesn't mean they know how to win at baseball. Have you seen their baseball? Let's just say, this time we're Honda and they're Chrysler.

So, as I sit here typing on the old word processor (made in Japan), listening to background music on my Sony five-disc CD player, getting ready to file this column with my Panasonic phone, I say, what the heck? Bring 'em on. Let's pocket some of their money. I say it's about time we win one for a change.

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