Last week Stanford's acting (but not laughing) athletic director, Alan Cummings, announced that the band would not perform that week and that the scripts for upcoming away games would have to be approved by his department—the scripts already have to be okayed for home games. The band, said Cummings, "displayed an insensitivity and disrespect to the Oregon community. The department of athletics will not be embarrassed again by the band."
The most surprising aspect of the disciplinary action is that the Stanford band has done far more offensive routines in the past without repercussions. (Those who saw the band's recreation of the linkup between the Soyuz and Apollo spacecrafts 15 years ago won't soon forget it.) It's probably none of our business, but it does seem that sophomoric humor is the divine right of sophomores, not to mention freshmen, juniors and seniors, and that Cummings should maybe lighten up a bit.
TOUCHING HOME AWAY FROM HOME
When a Burly, well-dressed foreigner approached the front desk of a Tokyo hotel one day last week, a Japanese onlooker asked his companion who the gaijin was. Told he was a major league baseball player, the man expressed his amazement. "He looks like a sumo wrestler," he said.
During his return visit to Japan, Cecil Fielder was bigger than any sumo wrestler, figuratively if not literally. Fielder, who played for the Hanshin Tigers in 1989 and the Detroit Tigers this year, was the centerpiece of major league baseball's all-star tour of Japan, and not just because he broke the 50-homer barrier. He was, after all, a rising star returning to the Land of the Rising Sun.
When Fielder hit his 50th and 51st home runs on the last day of the season, he caused more of a stir in Japan than he did in the U.S. Interest in Fielder was so great for this tour that requests for interviews had to pass through a six-man chain of command. For a five-minute TV spot, Fielder received 200,000 yen ($1,560), and for every magazine interview, he got 50,000 yen ($390). The slugger was even asked his opinions on the Middle East crisis.
Fielder's popularity in Japan stems both from his power—he belted 38 home runs in 106 games for Hanshin—and from his respect for the culture, which he demonstrated when he and Oakland A's pitcher Dave Stewart joined two Japanese players for a ceremonial opening of the sake barrel that launched the U.S.- Japan series.
Many American players have bad-mouthed baseball in Japan. Fielder, to the contrary, says Japanese baseball taught him to be patient at the plate. When he first came to the Hanshin Tigers, Fielder was such a free swinger that he was dubbed ogata senpuki, "the big electric fan."
Batters on the American team resembled an entire shipment of ogata senpukis last week, losing the first two games of the eight-game series 4-1 and 4-3 in the Tokyo Dome. When Fielder grounded into a double play with runners on first and second and none out in the ninth inning of the second game, Japanese fans were truly torn. They were about to win the game, but they had just lost face. It is important to them that Fielder does well. Says Masaaki Nagino, an official of the Central League, "The best way is that the Japanese team beats the major league team, but Fielder hits one or two home runs a game."