This morning, the Trib's Rick Morrissey led his column about Kosuke Fukudome's second year with the Cubs by describing the lowly Cubs fan taking a Fukudome t-shirt out of his closet and putting it on. The weather is warmer, and you paid for it, so you might as well wear it. Then the column about whether Fukudome will be good or not follows, and all is well in Newspaper Land.
More than remind us Fukudome's play, though, the column's lead refreshed my memory on the most unfortunate aspect of the Japanese player's sudden rise (and subsequent fall) in popularity in 2008: the Horry Kow t-shirt. You remember the shirts: An Asian-stereotype Harry Caray with big glasses and slanted eyes shouted "Horry Kow," because, ha ha, get it, all Asian people tark rike dis? Isn't that utterry hirarious?
Fukudome publicly decried the shirt, and the Cubs banned vendors from selling them outside Wrigley. But vendors didn't stop. Why didn't they stop? Because people still wanted to buy the shirt. There was a huge demand for them. Meaning there is at least a decent-sized portion of the Cubs fan base that has no problem with insensitively stereotyping a player because he's not from America.
Ostraciziation apparently didn't work. Neither did the ban. The only thing that could possibly reduce the sale of such t-shirts is, yes, if Fukudome stops being so popular. After a second half in which he barely hit anything, that doesn't seem like it's going to be a problem.
Of course, most Cubs fans will hope for a Fukudome rebound, and rightfully so. He deserves to play well in a Cubs uniform again. But if he doesn't -- if his decline continues -- the one bright side of the whole ordeal will be that those stupid, racist t-shirts will go away. Hopefully forever.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who hates those headbands, too. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.