January 29, 2018

Cleveland Indians Will Drop Chief Wahoo in 2019: The upcoming 2018 season will be the last that Chief Wahoo is used on uniforms by the Cleveland Indians, the New York Times reported today. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been pressuring the team to drop the racist caricature, an effort that increased after the league awarded the 2019 All-Star Game to Cleveland. For several years Wahoo was kept off team uniforms and other gear at its spring training games in Goodyear, Arizona. There may still be Wahoo items sold at team gift shops and in Ohio.

posted by rcade to baseball at 01:28 PM - 12 comments

I was coming here to post about this. Good on Manfred for finally getting this done. I've got a lot of friends and family who are fans of the Indians and on both sides of this logo. Some Clevelanders are going to grumble about this, but I think they'll get over it relatively quickly--as mentioned, the team has been diminishing Chief Wahoo's visibility in recent years anyway.

I wonder if there will be further movement to change the name. That's certainly a bigger undertaking than changing a logo, and the name is far less egregious than the logo, but if it were up to me, I'd make a clean break and change them both.

Your turn, Dan Snyder.

posted by bender at 02:23 PM on January 29

They should bring back the Spiders mascot. It's got a history with the city and would be pretty unique (and kind of badass).

posted by Ufez Jones at 04:19 PM on January 29

+1

Your turn, Dan Snyder.

I'm thinking Snyder dug in his heels so far he can't see out of the hole.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:32 PM on January 29

People from outside North America have a hard time believing that Chief Wahoo was a real sports logo for a mainstream team. Two people I know thought it was a parody of sports logos. They could not believe that a professional team would want to associate themselves to such a terrible caricature.

posted by grum@work at 06:07 PM on January 29

Not sure why the Chief can't be done away with right now. Is it a negotiated exit? Is he getting a farewell tour?

Clevelanders can handle sudden change if they have to. They endured Belichick's abrupt dismissal of Kosar and LeBron's South Beach skills relocation. And the stunning shock of The Fumble and the Willie Mays Catch.

The logo will still be used for team merchandise sold at the stadium, so the wearing of that coded apparel will set up divisive boundaries and perpetuate strong signals in the future. Not the healthiest outcome, but what do we know about civic health at this point?

posted by beaverboard at 06:57 PM on January 29

It's been posted before I think, but the Spokane Indians baseball team has taken a lead here. Of course, Spokane is named after the tribe so it's a little different but if they do continue to use "Indians" as a generic term (which they shouldn't) there are a lot of respectful ways they could rework their jerseys. I see they are going to keep selling Chief Wahoo merchandise to maintain their trademark (couldn't they just offer non-existent always out of stock wahoo merchandise?).

(Arguable Cleveland is just as offensive a name if you are Native American)

posted by rumple at 07:05 PM on January 29

Not sure why the Chief can't be done away with right now.

It is all about the size of his Social Security check. Late retirement means a larger monthly check. Of course, if he makes too much money on merchandise sales, the amount of tax liability will be greater. Retirement makes one face some tough decisions.

posted by Howard_T at 09:16 PM on January 29

Reading the comments of average sports fans on this reminds me of why SportsFilter was created way back when. So many dumb takes.

Sports stadiums sell their names to the highest bidder. If a ballpark's name isn't sacred, a vile racist caricature shouldn't be either.

I don't expect the Indians to ever change their name, but Cleveland Spiders is a fantastic name from their history. That could be a terrific mascot.

posted by rcade at 12:50 PM on January 30

I see they are going to keep selling Chief Wahoo merchandise to maintain their trademark ...

That wouldn't take much commerce. Selling items in one shop would be sufficient. If they keep Wahoo all over the place at their ballpark it undoes some of the goodwill this change brings.

posted by rcade at 12:52 PM on January 30

If a ballpark's name isn't sacred, a vile racist caricature shouldn't be either.

To many Clevelanders, the name of the stadium will always be Jacobs Field, despite whatever the signage may say.

posted by bender at 01:10 PM on January 30

so the wearing of that coded apparel will set up divisive boundaries and perpetuate strong signals in the future

That's what has me less than cheering the team here. From my bleeding heart perspective, this reads as, "We give up and will comply with your PC culture, but first we are going to make a mint selling Wahoo gear to aging racists."

Reading the comments of average sports fans on this reminds me of why SportsFilter was created way back when.

WHADDA ABOUT THE FIGHTIN IRISH?!!

To many Clevelanders, the name of the stadium will always be Jacobs Field

Which is a little strange to me since that name honors two guys who owned the team for 14 years. Wahoo.

posted by yerfatma at 01:16 PM on January 30

I visited Cleveland in the early days of the Jake. A friend had his wedding reception there, in a multi-level hall on the third base side. It is a fantastic shrine to the game.

I don't think 14 years is long enough for Jacobs Field to be a name that fans use "always." It has been Progressive Field for a decade and another 6 years remain on the deal.

There's also the issue of when the team will go back to the public financing trough and build a new one. The Rangers' many-named stadium opened the same year as the Jake and will be replaced in 2020.

posted by rcade at 01:45 PM on January 30

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.