295px-nagasakibomb.jpgI’m not one to pick a fight. Whenever the editor of a newspaper for which I don’t work for comes over to my cubicle screaming obscenities as to why the Internet is jacked up, I look down, blush red in anger, and bite my lip.

Loyal UmpBump readers know that I rarely have a bone to pick with anyone (well, except Jay Mariotti, but who doesn’t?!)

But this morning, as I unfolded the sports section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution I came across a column by one Furman Bisher, a pundit I’d never heard of in my life. And his column, “Sayonara, baseball tradition” though eloquent, rich in historical facts, embellished with romantic longing for yesteryear, came across as outstandingly ignorant and scandalous.

Now, as I said, I’d never heard of Bisher, so I brushed up on his bio just to know who I was dealing with, and it’s more than evident that he’s an eminence and he’s earned his place among accomplished sports journalists.

But passages like this have finally broken my impression of printed dates preceded by the number 19 as current or modern; and clearly, like Bisher, those dates belong in the 20th century, and not in the opinion pages of any publication:

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.

Oh, well, ‘scuse me. It’s just tough to get away from it when you turn on your TV in the morning there are the Boston Red Sox playing the Oakland A’s in the Tokyo Dome. Not only that, but the Red Sox pitcher is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who didn’t grow up in Wampole.

I have no problem with Furman waxing nostalgic about Red Stockings and how every season was opened in Cincinnati; yes, tradition is something we all long for and have a hard time breaking off. But when you go from Cubs-Mets in Tokyo, to the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor, to Daisuke and Opening Day ’08, it’s time to ignore the senile old man and let him sit in his chair, drinking his sweet tea.

Except, of course, he’s not sitting idly reminiscing on his better days. He’s in the opinion pages of both a major daily and its website!

Bah, who am I kidding. This is the AJC, and this is Georgia, where it’s still illegal to buy beer on Sunday. Too bad old man Bisher doesn’t realize that, much like him, some traditions, for better or worse, will simply not go away.

15 Responses to “Furman Bisher would like to remind you about the Japanese and World War II”

  1. Coco’s hair is the bees knees. Can we get a picture of him with his hat on? That would be awesome.

  2. Sarah Green says:

    Your wish is my command, Patrick! It appears our friend Coco has decided that *was* quite a lot of hair to try and fit under his cap—just take a gander at the new ‘do he was sporting yesterday:

    What a ponytail!

  3. Coley Ward says:

    Alejandro, I’m surprised you hadn’t heard of Furman Bisher. We’ve written about him here before.

    Also, Bisher isn’t the only AJC columnist who doesn’t like it that MLB is kicking off the season in Japan. Terrence Moore and Jeff Schultz both think it stinks.

  4. Alejandro Leal says:

    Ah, but that doesn’t explain why we didn’t have a Furman Bisher tag!

    Actually, I can care less that Bisher doesn’t like the season kicking off in Japan. I just heard Jason Stark say it’s a waste of time because the poor Red Sox will be jetlagged and boohoo, they won’t recover in time to play the first game States-side.

    I just think the AJC’s editors are reckless for letting Bisher run his xenophobic rants in print.

    But whatevs, the AJC, and newspapers in general are dying a slow and painful death anyway.

  5. Nick Kapur says:

    Good post Alejandro. It’s ridiculous to bring up Pearl Harbor in relation to a baseball game in 2008. That is just insane. This guy has a long memory? How old is he? 85? Because even if Pearl Harbor had happened when he was only 4 years old, he would already have to be over 70 now…

  6. Actually, Nick, Bisher is exactly 90 years old.

  7. Nick Kapur says:

    Wow. Okay. I guess if you are actually 90 years old, you are allowed to still be mad about Pearl Harbor then…

  8. Alejandro Leal says:


    But when you have Daniel Schorr (all of 91) yapping about on NPR, what are we to expect from the MSM?

    (Yes, dammit, NPR is MSM)

    Should be interesting, tho, to see those two live-blog Opening Night…

  9. Alejandro, I agree with your post.

    FYI, Bisher has been with the paper for-frickin-ever, since way before I was born.

  10. Paul Moro says:

    What the hell does “grow up in Wampole” mean? Perhaps Bisher’s purposely using language that my people won’t be able to understand.

    And Bisher’s not really angry that traditions are gone. He’s angry that things he likes are gone. He’s just calling it tradition to frame an argument that’s really about him, not baseball. Next week he’ll be writing about why no one does the Lindy anymore.

    And of course World Series games start around his bedtime. By the time he finishes the early bird special at the local Denny’s, he’s pooped.

    I also have no idea what he’s talking about when he says: “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.” I’ve never heard of the Tokyo Dome undergoing reconstruction. As far as I know, it’s been the same exact structure. I could be mistaken, but I’ve never heard of this.

  11. Alejandro Leal says:

    Yea, I googled “wampole” and all you get is a random set of search results, anything from the “Wampole family tree” to some kind of brand for some kind of medical something. Not sure if its a procedure or a drug or what (but this sheds some light on the subject – makes you wonder where Bisher got the word from).

    There’s nothing in the dictionary, nothing in Wikipedia.

    Talk about going way back. That word is so old, it doesn’t exist anymore.

  12. Sarah Green says:

    I think “not raised in Wampole” just means, this guy wasn’t born in the United States. And by that he means, this guy isn’t white. Because everyone born in the United States has blond hair and blue eyes and huge, straight, white teeth.

    I actually have a strange sensation here that Bisher thinks he is joking. Yes, racial jokes! Such knee-slappers! As they have been since WWII, when the United States was still a segregated society and we put Japanese people in internment camps! Har! Har har har!

    And not to sound like a total commie, but I think one of the readers commenting on Bisher’s article put it best when he or she wrote: “I must respectfully suggest that if any people know what “a few bombs can do to [their] property,” it’s probably Japan.”

  13. Love to hear you guys wail about how this xenophobic dinosaur has offended your progressive self-perception of enlightenment… In 20 years, the AGEISM rife in your smug commentary above will be viewed as being just as primitive and ignorant as rascist ‘N-word’ diatribes from 20 years ago. By then hopefully you’ll have gotten “old” too, kids… Alejandro, Mr. Bisher’s certainly not a xenophobe—he was happily working in the Soviet Union, Latin America and other foreign places long before you were born.

    Mr. Bisher DID in fact have to go to war against Japan and served at a place called Midway Island. Perhaps you’ve heard of World War Two on MTV…? You can thank Mr. Bisher’s generatioin that a nation that had been viciously attacking, enslaving and raping its’ neighbors for 50 years is now busy making Hello Kitty and electronic toys for whiney piss-ants like you. Yeah, THAT Tokyo…

    Sarah, I dare say that you might not exist had it not been for a couple of US bombs dropped on Japan in August 1945. If not for them, your grandfather or great-grandfather may well have been among the 2 million US casualties that would have died in Operation Olympic. Dare to pick up a history book and READ!

  14. Sarah Green says:

    James, go back to whatever political blog you wandered over from. Peace is what happens when countries move on. I think Furman Bisher and yourself should do the same. And my grandfather—a US Marine who fought in the South Pacific—would agree with me.

  15. Alejandro Leal says:

    Boy James, it’s obvious you were thoroughly educated on American propaganda films of the 40s and 50s.

    Let’s see, 60 years later and, just like Bisher, you’re still crapping that pseudopatriotism rhetoric you swallowed whole.

    But you know? I actually did think about the so-called “ageism” you refer to in writing this post, but I didn’t back down in saying what needed to be said; and I hope someone does unearth this when I’m 80 and I make outlandish remarks. It’s all about perspective; a sense of entitlement doesn’t take away the ability say idiotic things; sadly, it enhances it.

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