in light of events that occurred in 2020, i felt an imperative need to come back to this blog post. the Indians are currently in the process of reviewing their team name and will most likely move on from it within the next two years. since the team was named for the/their first Native American baseball player from the late 1890s, Penobscot Louis Sockalexis, i do not see the name as being offensive or representative of malicious intent. however, i can understand why Native Americans believe it is an unacceptable moniker. i also sympathize with their fight against racism and for justice and equality. i know the purpose of all the protests was to be heard; i hear you.
while i can't take back what i wrote here in 2018 (i refuse to merely delete the post as if it never existed), i want to take accountability for things that i said that could be construed as insensitive and inappropriate. i am always going to associate warm feelings with the Chief Wahoo because it takes me back to my childhood and it played a large part in my becoming a fan of baseball. but i acknowledge that those joyous feelings are not shared by everyone. i was wrong to propose that people not take offense to the Wahoo and the Tribe's name. i see things from both sides now, whereas i was unwilling to before, and i have no animosity toward those who disagree with my stance on this matter.
i apologize if my thoughts and feelings in this post were triggers for people who have an opposing view and if i came off as condescending. i'm truly sorry to anyone i hurt. i have and always will be very passionate about this Cleveland baseball team, but i want to make it abundantly clear that i do not wish any pain or ill will on any race. as someone who has a very hard time with change and will again need to go through a grieving period before i can accept the new reality, i sincerely hope the change that's forthcoming can somehow bring peace to all those who seek it.
START OF ORIGINAL POST:
by now you've all heard the news that the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo logo will be no more come 2019. i can't say i'm surprised because yes, i did know this was going to happen eventually. but getting word of the actual "expiration date" and learning that 2018 will officially be the final year that we see the Chief on the Tribe's hats and jersey sleeves is certainly a tough pill to swallow.
|photo courtesy of celinacolombo.wordpress.com|
i wanted to wait a little bit after the announcement on January 29 before compiling yet another blog with my reactions, thoughts, and support of the Chief. i needed to cool down; otherwise, this post would have been laced with
profanities, and i just don't need to be that vulgar to get my point across.
previously, i wrote two blogs about the gradual disappearance of the Chief and why the Indians should keep him, those being Where Are You, Chief Wahoo? Save The Chief!, published back on December 15, 2014, and an updated Save The Chief! Revised blog posted exactly one year ago on February 7, 2017.
i don't want to reiterate all of the things that i've already written, like the origins of the Wahoo and the Tribe's name, when the Wahoo first started being removed around the ballpark, how the Wahoo was phased out, the difference between a logo and the mascot, why i personally don't feel the Chief is a racist symbol, and my connection to the Chief. so for background on those, i recommend reading through my revised post from last offseason.
in addition, if you'd like to learn more about the creator of the Wahoo, check out the special blog i wrote about him following his passing in December 2017, titled RIP Walter Goldbach. it features Walter's thoughts on his caricature and the Block C as well.
The All Star Game For Your Chief
let me start with the obvious, or maybe it's not so obvious to everybody. Indians' owner Paul Dolan had the legal right to tell MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that he was keeping the Chief Wahoo. unfortunately, that was not done. the vibe i'm getting from the plethora of articles that were posted about this, is that Dolan, who was very aware that Manfred wanted the Indians to get rid of the Chief, grew tired of the constant debate and wished to settle the matter at long last. so he "sold out" the Chief.
some of the fans saw the writing on the wall as soon as it was publicized last year that the Indians were chosen to host the 2019 All Star Game. i automatically assumed it was an informal trade-off, where Manfred gave the okay for the ASG to be played in Cleveland in 2019 if and only if Dolan promised in return that the Chief would be gone by then. i'm guessing there was some kind of gentleman's agreement, but that's not something anyone will ever admit to if it's true.
Dolan claims making this decision had nothing to do with hosting the All Star Game. according to Terry Pluto's article on cleveland.com, Manfred was going to honor the commitment made by former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig regardless of the Indians' position on the Chief. in that case, Dolan looks all the more worse for not telling Manfred to mind his own business. Selig believed the Indians' use of the Chief was entirely up to the Indians--he didn't pressure the organization to abolish it in any way. but, as Dolan himself confessed, the Indians were "on a path to do something with Chief Wahoo" and Manfred pushed them faster to make a decision. therefore, i can't help but equate that to the Midsummer Classic. "hardest decision we've had to make during our entire ownership"? hardly.
|photo courtesy of Ted Crow via The Plain Dealer|
per Jordan Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians, part of Manfred's statement included how "the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball." well, i think a lot of Indians fans and baseball fans alike feel it's no longer appropriate to have Manfred as the commissioner of baseball. so when can we have him permanently expelled? this guy is ruining baseball, what with all his pitch clock proposals and pace of play ideas. he should leave the game alone and he should have left our Chief alone.😠
i definitely don't think bringing the ASG to Progressive Field was worth selling out Chief Wahoo for. why couldn't the Indians' neighbors next door host the ASG in their sport to draw in the millions of revenue to the city? that way nothing would have had to be sacrificed. at the cost of the Wahoo, not one cent made will be justified, in my opinion. i don't know how other people feel about the 2019 MLB All Star Game, but i for one am absolutely NOT going to be in attendance. not after what was done to get it. i'll proudly boycott that solo if i have to.🚫
Dolan is trying to appease the pro-Chief fans about this decision by emphasizing that he made a "compromise." except, it really doesn't seem like a compromise to me. Dolan feels he did good in this situation for three reasons: he insisted that the Chief Wahoo remain in our history, he assured fans that they could continue wearing Wahoo gear to games, and he made sure the Indians maintained the rights to the Chief so they can keep selling it in limited supply in the Team Shop for those fans who like it (and of course so they could still make money from it). how is any of that a compromise?
let me break it all down. so Manfred and Major League Baseball apparently wanted the Chief Wahoo to be completely erased from our history. they wanted anything with a Wahoo on it from our past to be extracted from Progressive Field. GTFO. that's insane. they expected someone to go around and rip down any and all old photos and memorabilia? omg. how dare they try to get rid of our history! they can't legally demand that and Dolan should have said no way. again, i don't see this as a compromise--get rid of the Wahoo from your future and you can keep him in your past? we should have always been able to keep him in our past. Dolan didn't do anything special here. this also shows that Manfred is not the brightest in the bunch. sorry, not sorry but you can't erase history, Robby. as the saying goes, those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. but in order to learn from it, it has to exist!
Dolan is acting like he did fans a favor by still "allowing" Chief Wahoo to be worn at games. do the Indians really think they could have told thousands of fans that they can't wear the Chief to the park or they'd be turned away at the gates? that never could/would have happened, so i don't see that as a triumphant part of the deal.
as for retaining the rights to the Chief so that no one else could ever use it (and make money off it), that's a bit contradictory if you ask me. telling us it's a good thing they did this is weird because if the organization knows that this is a symbol that's viewed as racist in this day and age and many people are outraged about it, then why would they be so worried that someone else might pick up the Wahoo trademark? (then that person/persons would have to deal with the racial controversy and the Indians would be totally absolved.) they didn't honestly care about preserving the Chief. this decision was all about money, which in turn supports my theory that the elimination of our Wahoo was the "compromise" to lock down the All Star Game.
a compromise in my eyes would have been telling Manfred, okay, we understand that the Chief is offensive to some people. but many fans in Cleveland have a long-standing emotional attachment to him. so here's what i propose: the Indians won't wear the Wahoo on the road in other cities, but will only wear him in our park. now that's a real compromise and actual resolution that would have made sense. all i see here is a team owner without a spine who wouldn't stand up to Manfred and say, "NO! you can't take our Wahoo away!"
i don't like how the Indians are trying to cutesy this by calling it a "retirement" of the Chief Wahoo either. are they going to do anything to recognize his historical significance in our franchise this season before he's officially gone? no. he's not retiring, he's being forced to go away. and if you could ask him, i don't think the Chief would want to retire.
oh and did you notice that this all wasn't revealed until AFTER Tribe Fest? how convenient. the Chief Wahoo was still on the Indians' jersey sleeves on January 20, which i was pleased to see, but it was only false hope. and wasn't it funny how no one in the front office addressed anything about the Chief or gave an update on talks with Manfred at the big event? i'm sure that was a calculated move done by the Indians--to wait and get everyone's money first, knowing that if they avoided this topic, the fans would be happy and hyped up for baseball again and nobody there would be pissed off or try to start something negative.😒
Give People An Inch, They'll Take A Mile: Is the Name's Retirement Next?
from an mlb.com release, Dolan disclosed, "with support from MLB, the team name Indians will not be changed."
too bad i don't believe that because they also once alleged the Chief Wahoo wasn't going anywhere. it's odd that Dolan doesn't mind the controversy about the team's name, yet he agreed to give up the Wahoo because he no longer wanted to deal with the controversy surrounding the Chief. why shouldn't we worry that the Indians name isn't in (future) jeopardy? i'll even go as far as to predict that within five years, the organization will formally declare they need a new name because "times have changed" and it's no longer appropriate and Dolan wants to end the complaints. may i suggest the Cleveland Manfreds?👎
think the protesters will sit back and simply go away now that the Wahoo's gonna be gone? don't kid yourselves, you know better than that. like i wrote, you give people an inch, they'll take a mile. their fight isn't over. this decision is not going to stop them because they will likely now be shifting all their attention to protesting the Indians' name.
if only there could have been another bonus compromise, something that discourages the protesters from coming to Opening Day and parading around in front of the park now that they got what they wanted with the removal of the Chief. i know it's their right to peacefully protest, but all that's gonna do is antagonize those who did not want to see the Chief go away and re-open/put salt in the wound. and honestly, after this, i could potentially see some of the fans in favor of the Chief engaging in physical fights with the protesters. don't poke the bear.
How Does This Help, Really?
what i want to know is, at the end of the day, how does this help Native Americans and their lives? the online masses have brought up that the Native Americans should have been focused on other issues that directly affected the quality of their lives. they felt that instead of worrying about and protesting a cartoon character of a sports team that many Native Americans probably never even watched or cared about aside from its logo, perhaps they should have exhausted their energy on matters such as alcoholism, addiction, and unemployment within their community.
now i can admit the way that group went about their inquiry was wrong and insensitive. but the question remains: what did this change? what does this do for Native Americans personally? are their hardships and racism against them gone because a caricature for one sports team has been pushed out of use? are they really going to live better now that the Indians' players will no longer wear the Wahoo on their hats and jersey sleeves after 2018? fans will still wear it, i guarantee that, so is their fight really over? was this their biggest battle and are they now satisfied with this victory?
i think, if anything, it's possible that people who like the Wahoo and wanted it to stay and were not prejudice against Native Americans prior to all this, could now resent those that were so anti-Chief within the Native American community.🤷
You Can Only Be Offended By Something If You Allow Yourself To Be Offended
okay, i'm going to drop some advice here that i got from watching a life coach on youtube. your thoughts create your feelings, which create your actions, which create your results. if we apply that within the context of this topic, then the people who are offended by the Chief Wahoo are basically choosing to be offended by it. would it be at all possible to choose NOT to be offended? continue to not support the team and concentrate on what makes you happy? maybe i'm naive but i do know that eliminating negative emotions can be very freeing and healing. the bottom line is we are all in control of our own feelings, and if you talk to a life coach, you will get similar feedback.
You Cannot Tell Us How to Feel
and speaking of feelings, i want to stress to people that NOBODY can tell you how to feel about something. i can suggest people not take offense here, but i can't demand or really even expect it. so, much like those who choose to be offended, if you want to be mad and upset about the decision regarding the Wahoo, then be mad and upset. don't let any articles or commenters or protesters tell you differently or try to make you feel bad about it. you do not need to adhere to the insistence by some to just "get over it."
the worst is when i hear, "you knew this was coming, you shouldn't be upset." that's like saying you shouldn't be sad or cry when someone dies because you know everybody's going to die sooner or later. knowing something's going to happen is not nearly the same as it actually happening. and as much as you can try to prepare for it, you can't fully prepare. people need to stop dismissing and disregarding the importance of a grieving process, especially when the Chief has been around for as long as he has.
the internet is a hotbed of comments and reactions about this and we are not all going to agree on what was done. but those who were in favor of keeping the Chief are going through a rough time right now, and that should be understood.
Write the Facts, Keep Your Own Agendas to Yourself
i was very surprised to see a large number of Cleveland Indians' writers/my top Tribe sources express how pleased they are that the Wahoo is being cast out. it disappointed me to learn how some of my favorite scribes viewed the Chief as a negative thing and it induced confusion. if they really felt so offended by the Wahoo, then why didn't they look for another place of employment and find another MLB team to work for and write about? maybe it's easier said then done, but if you think something racist exists within your employer, why not leave? or how about not ever having accepted a position with the Indians chapter of MLB to begin with? the Wahoo didn't just appear all of the sudden, and the debate over him has ensued for years. if the writers were on the anti side of it, why be associated with the Indians in any way?
this reminds me of a job i once had that i ultimately left when i no longer respected or wanted to be a part of what the company represented. my morals, values, and principles meant more to me than what was going on there. so i said goodbye and never looked back. it was not hard to do.
some of these guys--and yes, they're all men--are acting as though they had no choice but to stay where they were. it's coming off as though they were holding their tongue all this time because of their occupation within/for the organization. i don't think it should have had to come to that. i say, if it was so disturbing to them, they should have stuck to their principles and left their post. normally, when people feel so strongly that something is wrong, they don't simply accept and tolerate it. (much like the protesters who were against the Chief.) and if this hadn't happened, if the Chief was still around, would these writers have continued to keep their feelings hidden? how convenient now that they can confess just how against the Chief they are and have supposedly been for a long time. this is just building up more of a case for a common theme--money trumps all.
alas, some of these writers will be looked at disparagingly now. and if these writers are going to use the position that they're in to publicly take that particular stance on this matter, then they have to expect to receive some sort of backlash in return, especially if they haven't been covering the team long enough to truly grasp and appreciate the fan connection to the Wahoo.
since i did see several writers write against the Chief, i want to take a minute to identify the only beat writer i saw who actually disagreed with the decision that came down. Paul Hoynes' article on cleveland.com stating that Manfred should have stayed out of the Indians' business took the words right out of my mouth. it's a must-read if you're on the pro-Chief side. Hoynsie gets it and i applaud him for being so brazen.👏
People Who Support the Chief Should Not Be Automatically Labelled As Racists
another writer in baseball, someone i'm not going to name but i'm sure a lot of people will know exactly who i'm referring to, divulged how he lost a bunch of twitter followers after praising the Wahoo's banishment. then he added, "i think i've cleared out any racists from northern ohio." whoa. i'm not even from NEO and yet i felt somewhat attacked by that because i do still support the Chief and am by no means a racist.
this is wrong. referring to all Chief Wahoo supporters/people who disagree with your approval of the decision as racists, could not be a more ignorant accusation. someone in the public eye, who again does not know all the stories behind why people have affection for the Chief and what it means to them, should know better than to explicitly post something like that. my goodness. this whole thing is really showing an ugly side to some people.
What About the Other Controversial Team Logos?
i always disassociated the Indians' cartoon logo from the actual group of Native American people. not everybody can do that, clearly. so this brings up another issue. there are various other sports team logos out there that are alive and well within their franchises that should be perceived as offensive and racist. so why is ours the only one that has to go?
|photo courtesy of laloyolan.com|
|photo courtesy of usflags.com|
|photo courtesy of mlb.com|
and what about MLB's own Atlanta Braves? i know there's some well established controversy surrounding that franchise. so hey, Manfred, why don't you barter to get that organization to make an alteration? why was ours singled out as the primary focus and why are we the only ones forced to give up our "racist" Chief?
in my mind, logos that depict more real looking Native Americans would seem to be way more demeaning than our caricature Chief. yet nothing's happening with any of those team logos. i have to keep it real--it is not fair that we are the only ones reprimanded and that our Wahoo had to be eradicated while everyone else's supposed derogatory logos get to stay.
If the 2016 Team Was Bad, Would the Chief Still Be Around?
now let's talk about how this really all came to be in recent years. the whispers of people's dislike of the Wahoo noticeably turned into a roar only when the Indians made it far into the playoffs in 2016 and hit the national spotlight. what an unjust distraction for a team that was incredibly talented and almost rewarded by winning the World Series.
let's go series by series. i don't recollect the Boston Red Sox or their fans being bothered about the Indians' Wahoo in the 2016 American League Division Series. the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans were the ones who made the biggest stink about it in the American League Championship Series. as i wrote in my Chief blog last year, Mark Shapiro, former Indians president and current president & CEO of the Blue Jays since 2016, was very anti-Wahoo, but did not fully concede that outright until he left. and he's the one who rallied around making the plain, non-distinctive Block C the Tribe's primary logo while pushing the Chief down to a secondary. so of course when we played against Shapiro's new team, well it didn't seem like much of a coincidence that this came up and caused a commotion. then by the time the Indians made it to the World Series and faced off against the Chicago Cubs, the media had turned this into a very hot topic. but i don't remember hearing of any Chicago fans being incensed about our usage of the Chief--probably because Cubs fans had their own 💩 to worry about, like a 108-year championship drought.
even this past postseason, in the 2017 ALDS, did the New York Yankees and their fans whine because the Indians wore Chief Wahoo hats? they may have trash talked us, but i don't recall the Chief being a problem.
so i have to wonder: had the Indians not made it into the playoffs in 2016 at all, or had they merely not played the Blue Jays, would the Chief Wahoo have lived to see 2019? we'll never know. doesn't seem right that that might have been the case. being punished for being good? only in Cleveland.
The Block "C" Stands For "Cop Out"
as i previously mentioned, the Block C was Shapiro's idea to replace the Wahoo. well, Shapiro is long gone and the Block C cannot continue to be the team's primary logo. it's terrible. and a lot of people outside of Cleveland have no idea what the hell it stands for and represents.
where i live, unless people follow baseball or are specifically familiar with the Indians, then they don't unconsciously associate a plain C on a hat with Cleveland. they're more likely to assume that's a symbol for a local high school or college team. even my friends, if they didn't know what a diehard Tribe fan i am, would have no clue what i was repping if i wore something and all it had on it was a C.
do a google search for "Block C logos" and look at all the Cs that come up representing different teams. you get Cs for the Clemson Tigers, UC Berkeley Golden Bears, Charleston Cougars, and Cornell Crushes to name a few. it's not unique whatsoever. and yes, i'm aware that back in the early days of the franchise, the Indians did use a C, but as everyone likes to say, times have changed. we need a better logo.
i'll be honest. it's not my favorite logo obviously, but i do have some items with Cs on them that i think are particularly cute (because the C isn't the main focal point lol). be that as it may, i do not appreciate how that's mostly all i'm going to have to choose from going forward. i usually get the majority of my Indians gear online, and after 2018, the Wahoo will no longer be sold by the online MLB store. and as for the continued sale of the Chief in the Team Shop at Progressive Field, there's only gonna be a small inventory; they're still going to try to force that C on everybody and that pisses me off. give me something else!
right now it doesn't sound like they're working on coming up with a fresh logo. Dolan reported they might explore a complementary logo at some point. well, i think that should be a priority. what are they waiting for? start figuring out the best way to go about new branding. this current C sucks. the C might as well stand for Cop Out because that's what Dolan did as far as i'm concerned.
Closing Time 2018
so that's it. there's nothing more we can do. the decision has been made and there's no going back. when the Indians play their last game of 2018, it will be the last time we ever see the boys wearing a Wahoo. for our sake and our history's sake, i hope that game is Game 7 of the World Series.
there seems to be a lot of fans who are not happy about this, so i can guarantee that people, including myself, will continue to wear Wahoos in the stands. and i know we'll still see Jim Stamper's Chief signs around the ballpark:
|photo courtesy of usatoday.com|
you can take the Chief off the jerseys and hats, but you'll never take him out of our hearts and history! #GodSaveTheChief
all that's left for me to say is i wouldn't have caved on this subject matter, i wouldn't have settled, and i wish we had an owner who had the nerve to stand up for his franchise and not back down from anybody.
i'll always stand by you, Chief Wahoo. and unlike Mr. Dolan, i won't back down.✊
leave any thoughts you have and comments you want to convey below, but please keep it civil if you choose to partake in back and forth conversations with others!
now that this is over, i'm going back to all things Brantley and will be concentrating on any news and ankle updates that come out. you can follow me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 for all that information. i'm also honoring Michael in his final year as an Indian by posting special moments from his career every Monday throughout the regular season with the hashtag #CelebratingMichaelBrantley. look for that beginning on April 2!🎉
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