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Plain Dealer editorial board joins anti-Wahoo chorus

sad-chief-wahoo

wahooIt’s not going away. I’m speaking of the conversation about Chief Wahoo. We’ve talked about it here. It’s been talked about many other places as well. It’s not going to go away until the Chief goes away for good. Love it or hate it, that seems to be the inevitable truth. Now the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial board has joined the chorus in their editorial.

But Americans have a long history of giving up on once-acceptable traditions when they come to realize the consequences — as unintended as they may be — of keeping them going.

The bottom line is that having Wahoo on the roster won’t provide the team with a right-handed power hitter, a shutdown closer or a third baseman who can hit. Wahoo contributes nothing to the performance of the Indians on the field, and makes the team seem hopelessly backward in the eyes of the world.

It’s not unlike a lot of things that have been discussed ad nauseum right here on WFNY. It seems that there will never be wholesale agreement on the topic, but my current position is one of pragmatism even more than anything else. We know enough about the cultural shifts in the country over time to unequivocally know that the Chief won’t last forever. Oddly enough, as much as Chief Wahoo offends or even de-humanizes people, it serves as a catalyst for Cleveland and its fans to stand in the line of fire.

My plea is for it to end, if for no other reason, than to stop the shots being fired at Cleveland from judgmental, scornful outsiders. Bending to outside pressure isn’t a lot of fun, but we know how this thing is going to end. Might as well hit the fast forward button. I’d like to just talk about baseball again. There’s only one way to do that.

Andrew at WFNY discussed the topic most recently in October. Make sure you read his post.

It’s time to say goodbye to Chief Wahoo

  • Ed Carroll

    Just to clarify, the editorials by the PD like this (or in any other paper) are usually meant to represent the stance of the paper as a whole. This is why they are unsigned/without a byline.

  • Ed Carroll

    Not sure if I agree with that. They rightfully side-step this issue.

  • EyesAbove

    I hope the government wouldn’t step in and force their hand.

  • EyesAbove

    Best comment Ive seen so far on cleveland.com

    “Chief Sockalexis is a guy from Maine who played 94 games in Cleveland. His career ended when he broke his leg jumping out of a brothel window, and he got released from the 1899 Spiders, the WORST TEAM EVER, then he died of alcoholism at age 42. Why are we honoring this guy? Is it because of all the Native Americans in Ohio? Because there are actually FEWER Native Americans in Ohio THAN IN ANY OTHER STATE. Is it because of all the success we’ve had with him? Oh wait, everyone who was alive the last time we won a World Series is now a senior citizen.
    Even if it doesn’t offend you, there is no reason to keep Wahoo. It makes no sense. It’s the smiling face of failure.”

  • Steve

    I think I’m with Ed on this one. I think a lot of the communication issues stem from the fans already being determined that Dolan is cheap, or Shapiro is a liar, or whatever narrative you prefer.

  • nj0

    Yeah, maybe I should reword that. The Indians are very good at communicating their message. For a pro sports team, they’re surprisingly honest and forthcoming.

    What they’re bad at, in my opinion, is positively shaping public opinion through their message. They aren’t very good at spin. That said, I also agree with Ed in that they have handled the issue of the Chief pretty well from a P.R. stand point.

  • nj0

    I should add – minus the whole Sockalexis fairy tale….

  • Steve

    I’m on board with that. But I do wonder how positive they feasibly could shape their image. You have to still try, but it’s become such an uphill battle at this point.

    And yeah, Sockalexis. I don’t get how they even think they’re getting away with that yarn.

  • joey

    When I was a kid with a Plain Dealer paper route the first thing I looked at in my bundle of papers at 4am was weather the Chief was smiling or frowning on the front page (mostly the latter) from the game the night before. Shame on you PD for joining the liberal lemmings going over the cliff on this non-controversy.

  • The American Way

  • MoreGolfLessWork

    And we won’t have chief wahoo any more, because mostly people who are not native american thought it was politically incorrect, but real native americans generally do not have an issue with it. Next thing you know, people will be protesting about the Browns name because it somehow symbolizes white owners making money of of black players. Or we will have people who have ties to “cavaliers” so we better change that name and logo too!!

  • mgbode

    just change the symbol because you’re tired of hearing about it

    or truthful. it’s where alot of us are on the issue.

  • mgbode

    interesting. if that is what they are going for, then they failed to make any meaningful stance for the reasons nj0 already noted.

  • mgbode

    choosing a side is fine. but, how you demonstrate your message is another.

    too often the sides end up screaming obsenities and hate rather than working through the actual issue in a humane fashion. it is one of the reasons that I choose to post here at WFNY, we have reasonable debate even on polarizing issues.

  • mgbode

    that would be about worst case scenario for me.

    (1) love red/white/blue for our flag, but too many baseball teams use it.
    (2) hate the block-C
    (3) Spiders? ugh. let’s celebrate one of the low points in our sports history by resurrecting a team name.

  • left out

    i would guess that the teary-eyed logo featured in the graphic would be considered much less offensive to those critics of the caricature than the current one. though i don’t really see how anyone can be offended by either of them. the sad chief does seems to fit the state of cleveland sports over the years though

  • Ed Carroll

    I completely agree with ya on that one. I agree with the PD’s overall stance, but even I admit it’s a poor editorial. Very weak wording, and its main argument is essentially “The Indians should get rid of Chief Wahoo because it’s the right thing to do.”

    I’d expect that as a conclusion, or maybe in a column written by someone with a byline. But from an unsigned editorial meant to propose the paper’s/Web site’s/whatever they wanna call themselves now’s official stance on an issue, that’s awful, regardless of the stance they’ve selected.

  • nj0

    Agreed. I went to the piece expecting some concrete policies to be laid out. Something along the line of the various outlets who refuse to use the term “Redskins” any more. Found nothing.

  • terry

    You just had to start talking about them dang liberals because you are just the worstttttttttttttttttttttttttt

    And then this one’s fun… “bigotry is in the eye of the beholder.” What? Is this a joke? Is your hobby to just take idioms and change them as you see fit? And you cannot possibly believe bigotry is subjective. Bigotry is a lot more objective than beauty, you crazy bag of banana pudding.

    Oh and then here’s another comment that’s just gold: you call it a “manufactured controversy.” I want to stab my eyes out so that I never have to read it again. Manufactured controversy? Manufactured controversy. Holy crap, you actually called this a manufactured controversy… if you don’t at least realize that our logo is a cartoon representation of an entire race of people, then there is no hope for you. You are just the worst.

    People like you are just a nickel a dozen.

  • terry

    Yeah! And next thing, and next thing you know… people will be protesting you because they’ll see your username and believe you want to ban work and make everyone play golf. Are you high?

    You’re dumb. Your comparisons are dumb. The name is “The Indians” because they actually refer to American Indians, and the logo is an American Indian Chief because it’s supposed to be an American Indian Chief. Don’t be so obtuse and play dumb on purpose, you’re dumb enough as it is when not trying. You should change your username to “MoreBooksLessSayingStupidGarbage.”

  • sam

    I’d be down with that. Also, I think there’s some middle ground – play more into how we call them “The Tribe,” which we do anyway.

  • nj0

    Blaming liberals? Check.
    Pithy senseless idiom? Check.
    Argumentum ad nerdiness? Check.
    Appeal to REAL fanhood? Check.
    Apocalyptic Wahoo survivalism? Check.
    Invocation of the country’s decline? Check.

    Well, looks like all you’re missing here is a “lamestream media” for a perfect score.

  • nj0

    Pick one:
    Misuse of the transitive property. Five yard penalty. Repeat third down.

    Or

    You misunderstand the nature of likenesses.

  • terry

    If we refuse to go to games because they took our racist logo away, I’d say we deserve to be laughed at.

  • Turkey Sandwich

    Hey so I posted a longer comment this morning soon after this post hit the site, one that I actually cared to put a lot of thought into. Make fun of me all you want for whining that my dumb comment isn’t being posted, but that’s super sleazy if you chose not to approve it because I took issue with your post. I used swear words sure, but not in a derogatory way towards anyone in particular.

  • MoreGolfLessWork

    Oh, I love when internet tough guys tell people they don’t know how dumb they are! Maybe I should change my username like you told me to, but then the people who like saying stupid garbage would be offended, so I can’t do that. You may protest me!

  • mgbode

    if serious, then you may want to read “Before You Comment”

  • terry

    You’re right, I don’t know you. All I had to go on is the dumb comment I originally read of yours, and now here’s a second. Based on those, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out you’re actually not a human with a mind, but rather a crude pile of cans that has magically developed the ability to type.

    And I don’t know if you understood what I was saying, because the main point is that nobody is going to be offended by the browns or cavs or your stupid golfbro name because YOU ARE TOTALLY GRASPING AT STRAWS IN THE MOST OBVIOUS WAY POSSIBLE. I merely protest your refusal to make a strong or smart argument.

    You. Are. Terrible.

  • Turkey Sandwich

    Ahhhh POOP. Just read it. That flippin’ stinks. thanks.

  • terry

    Don’t really know why you’d guess that. They both still depict a racist stereotype of an American Indian with red skin. And if you can’t see how anyone can be offended, then you can be excused to go into the TV room and play with your legos. It ain’t that hard to understand.

  • Tron

    I think what people in this country still have not fully realized or fail to fully grasp is that the native population of this continent or “Indians” were not the victims of a genocide that was an accidental occurrence or an inevitable consequence; but were in fact the victims of a genocide that was fully calculated and ruthlessly executed for commercial and Imperial purposes.
    When we understand this fact, figures such as Chief Wahoo easily become what they really are: Monstrous.
    We should eliminate Chief Wahoo not because it is “PC” to do so, or because it will help with sponsors and corporate advertising. We should make a statement that we recognize the power that symbols carry and no longer are we willing to hide behind the face of Wahoo in order to deny our past and misrepresent our present. Lets start from here and then lets go win an F’N World Series!

  • Turkey Sandwich

    And that’s a fine opinion for anyone to have, but I too would hope this website holds itself to a higher standard than to just conclude they’re tired of hearing about it. This is clearly a controversial issue, about a Cleveland sports team, and it gets national attention… I think there can always be something of more substance to say. Otherwise, just don’t write about it.

  • KnoxvilleBuckeye

    So where were you 20 years ago on this non issue? It isn’t like the Indians just adopted this mascot yesterday. Quit being a media sheep and think for yourselves. It wasn’t an issue then and it isn’t now.

  • Steve

    So because people thought one way about an issue a generation ago, we shouldn’t bother rethinking it? Do you live in a bubble?

  • There’s still time for them to get ahead of it. If they make the change and explain why they’re making it, they can control the story. There’s no way the media won’t praise them for it. Then it flows neatly out of the news cycle once games actually start or other sports stories fire up.

  • (1) There actually are some really sharp examples of Tribe-themed gear out there, sans the Chief. My go-to has become GV Art and Design, which frequently (and deservedly) gets love around here: http://gvartwork.myshopify.com/

    (2) Avoiding the name is substantially harder. Especially if you’re trying to eliminate “Tribe” as well. I’ve seen some Block C BP jerseys out there, as well as “Cleveland” gear in the team’s colors, but you do often have to put some effort into the process.

    (3) I don’t know about this one. I mean, if you want to organize days of getting folks together for a game (always a good group activity) and have the folks in that group go Chief-less, then great. But as soon as it becomes some sort of organized show of opposition to Wahoo, it’s only going to stir up the pro-Wahoo crowd, which means more crowd shots of fans in red face paint and head dresses doing war whoops, which will inevitably bring the wrong kind of attention. Subtle seems the better way to go here, at least in my mind. But maybe the issue needs a high-profile blowup?

    (4) Money talks. The team has plenty of examples at the college and pro level over the last 10-15 years that should be pretty convincing from that standpoint. It certainly does have the potential to energize the fan base and generate positive buzz. Unless you’re the Florida/Miami Marlins–yikes. Or the Akron RubberDucks.

    (5) This. Must. Happen. That logo is gorgeous. I once again cast my ever-meaningful fan vote to the idea of adopting the Feller logo, changing the team’s name to “Blues”, and going with the navy and white color scheme. There was a bit of group elaboration on this in a previous post on the topic of the Chief, and it just makes sense for so many reasons.

    (6) A team-directed “rebranding” could keep the Chief available for throwback appearances, but I think it would have to be in a somewhat limited for to avoid the appearance of the team not really giving up on him. If an Albert Belle bobblehead features him in a Chief-logo’d hat, cool. Visors with Wahoo? Borderline. No t-shirts. Rare throwback jersey appearances, perhaps. No, it’s not an exact science, and maybe that means no vintage gear at all. But I feel like a compromise of some sort could be found.

    I will forever think of Chief Wahoo when I think about the Cleveland Indians. And while there is a name and logo change I could support, my nostalgia regarding the Chief will always be there. But continuing to defend his featured presence in 2014 has become increasingly uncomfortable.

  • Ed Carroll

    I consider myself a real fan. I know I’d gladly buy new team gear with an unoffensive logo/name on it.

    Bigotry may be in the eye of the beholder, so let’s try to view the issue through someone else’s eyes then, eh?

  • Ed Carroll

    “There’s no way the media won’t praise them for it.”

    Lol, you’re unfamiliar with Cleveland media, huh? Seriously though, the team shouldn’t rely on a media that doesn’t understand the game very well.

  • Ed Carroll

    That’d be pretty sweet, living in a bubble. Assuming you could bounce around and stuff.

  • Hopwin

    Yay for furthering the conversation via childish name-calling!

  • Hopwin

    I personally would love to replace our reviled racial charicature with a creature that is literally universally reviled, in fact it is genetic: http://www.thefamilygp.com/womens-fear-of-spiders-is-genetic.htm Insert squashed spider jokes here.

  • This website has spent countless hours across multiple writers discussing the topic both in written form and on podcasts. This is just what I wrote today.

  • joey

    Thanks for adding the worst offender of all. Indoctrination works….for the weak-minded. Betcha there isn’t single native American posting here that gives a hoot one way or the other.

  • joey

    A nickel a dozen? Guess that makes us the majority.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Change the mascot now before Cleveland becomes the answer to the terrible trivia question…what professional team was the last to abandon it’s Native American mascot?

    It would be like being the last team to racially integrate. That was Boston, for the record.

    If anything, in addition to being inappropriate, Chief Wahoo nullifies the attention Cleveland could receive as the first AL team to integrate. The team was ahead of the curve then…now, they look stuck in the 20th century.

  • mgbode