Did '19 All-Star Game Impact Indians' Decision On Chief Wahoo?
The Indians on Monday announced plans to remove the Chief Wahoo logo from their uniforms before the '19 season, and there is "no doubt" that Indians Chair & CEO Paul Dolan was "pressured to make the change" before the '19 MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Dolan "insisted there was 'no quid pro quo,' no threat from baseball to pull the game unless Chief Wahoo was benched." But the "last thing baseball and the Indians wanted" was the '19 ASG to "turn into a debate about Chief Wahoo." Both "sides wanted some type of settlement" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/31). In Cleveland, Ted Diadiun notes Dolan "tried to make it appear" that he and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred "reached the decision in concert." He "denied that Manfred threatened to pull" the ASG out of Cleveland "if he didn't cave." Diadiun: "I've got my doubts. ... Sounds to me a lot like, 'Nice little plan for the All-Star Game you've got there, Dolan. Be a shame if anything happened to it'" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/31).
MIXED REACTIONS: In Akron, Ryan Lewis notes most of the responses from outside of Northeast Ohio were "positive, with a tone declaring that this action was a long time coming." The local response was "more divided." Some fans were "happy with the move from a social standpoint, but others were upset that a locally beloved logo was being eradicated from the uniforms." A few "threatened to no longer go to games or even watch" MLB, "simply because of one insignia’s demise after this season" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/31). SI.com's Jon Tayler wrote this "wasn’t a moral choice for the Indians despite the obvious racism that Wahoo represented; it was a financial one." For years, the team "resisted entreaties from Native activists who called for Wahoo’s departure." Only when MLB "got involved did Wahoo begin to disappear." At "no point was this choice about sensitivity, or even about right and wrong." It was "about business, and so is the choice to keep selling Wahoo merchandise when the team doesn’t have to, or about keeping the logo until 2019 to placate those fans who are so dearly attached to a grinning red face and to give them a chance to celebrate and buy their racist memorabilia" (SI.com, 1/30).
FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARDS: An AKRON BEACON JOURNAL editorial states, "Ideally, the club would give up the logo and the nickname." But this decision "does represent progress." The "hope is, sooner rather than later, the club and baseball will achieve more" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/31). A TORONTO STAR editorial states, "It’ll be another year before the mascot is benched. And even then, the racist logo will still appear on items sold in the team’s souvenir shop. Apparently they just can’t let it go." The editorial: "Memo to the Indians and any organization that realizes it’s not on the right side of history: when you finally decide to change, just do it. Don’t prolong the embarrassment and the pain" (TORONTO STAR, 1/31).