Updated: Apr 4, 2020
By: Malcolm Wyley
Quick Note: This article was written prior to Game 5.
Maybe three years ago I bought my dad, from Cleveland, an Indians jersey for (I think) Father’s Day. It looks like it’s probably a batting practice jersey, doesn’t have any numbers on the back, but my dad isn’t really the jersey wearing kind of dude.
This year for Father’s Day, I got him a Cavs championship shirt. He got it a little late though because once overcoming a 3-1 deficit became a conceivable reality, it made sense to hold out. After decades of torment and being the victim of several moments, he deserved to be a part of the city’s first championship since he was four.
Cleveland Indians fan Austin Howell waits for the gates to open before Game 1 of the baseball American League Championship Series between the Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Cleveland. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) ORG XMIT: NSD101
Granted, while imagining a team in Cleveland winning anything seemed like an impossible task, they had LeBron James. Things tend to work out for the team that happens to have LeBron James on it at the moment. He hasn’t missed the Finals since taking his talents to South Beach. He then reversed course in 2014, took the Cavs to the Finals for the second time (you’ll never guess who took them there the first time) in 2015, and finally, after an entire season of me joking about how lame it sounded, he found revenge and simultaneously Got One For The Land. Not bad.
Even further from probability was the chance that the Indians, also of Cleveland though without one less LeBron, would find themselves repping the AL in the Fall Classic. Like LeBron’s latest Nike ad says, if anyone is not supposed to be here, it’s the (Chicago Cubs, and in second place the) Cleveland Indians. They haven’t won since 1948, nor have they made it since 1997.
Yet here they are, threatening to take a 3-1 lead. Seems like sort of a trend this year.
And that’s the thing with the Indians. You don’t just get a group of guys who’ve worked their whole lives to get to this point and potentially win it all. You get their fans, like this guy.
To be fair, this dude could be Native American. He’s painted well enough to make it hard to determine just by looking. But I really, really, reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally doubt it.
There’s also the fact that Indians players, or their fans immediately above their dugout, make what they assume to be “indian noises” (look at Chief Wahoo and you get the general idea) when they score.
Through being named the fucking Indians, they’ve enabled this kind of deplorable, openly racist behavior without directly encour…..yeah no I can’t even type that.
Earlier in the year the Indians made a plain block letter “C” their primary logo, demoting the grinning, painfully red-faced mug of Chief Wahoo to secondary status. It’s a step in the right direction
The issue that I, and I’m sure others, are having is that the Indians have seemed to have forgotten this. Throughout the AL Divisional and Championship Series, and now in the World Series, Chief Wahoo has enjoyed prime real estate atop the Indians players heads. Not just the normal navy/red combo but also the all navy lid.
It’s fair to point out that, up to this point, all the championship gear (AL and presumably World Series) uses the block C, as do the batting helmets, but isn’t all that somewhat negated if during the actual games, Wahoo’s goofy grin is all over primetime TV? Especially if there’s dumb white people scattered throughout the stands, especially (and ironically) at Progressive Field, as if they’re competing with each other in a game of who can look more offensive.
Speaking of offensive, it’s not something that’s up for debate. The Native American community has repeatedly expressed how offended they are by their logo (CC: Washington Racial Slurs), and therefore they should get rid of it. Regardless of what anyone’s poll says, White people don’t get to decide what Native Americans should and shouldn’t be offended by. How hard or terrible would it really be to switch a team to a new name, and gain tons in revenue doing so? A go-to excuse as to why they can’t outright dump Wahoo is because he’s part of their team history, which is kind of weird cause, y’know, 1948.
epa05602923 A Cleveland Indians fan outside before the gates opened for game one of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 25 October 2016. The best-of-seven series will be played with games first in Cleveland, then Chicago and back to Cleveland if necessary. EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO ORG XMIT: MCX019
There’s apparently plans for MLB’s fairly new commissioner to speak to the team about the use of Wahoo going forward, but that just seems like they’re waiting to squeeze every last dollar out of the caricature they can. Perhaps all this exposure to the full Cleveland Indians experience will lead to further discussion and, more importantly, action.
Because it’s how sports works, unless the meteor strikes us prior to its conclusion, someone will win these World Series, and while the Cubs are too goofy for me to ever imagine them winning a World Series (again, 1908), and despite how incredible it would be for two Cleveland teams to win in the same calendar year after 52 years of nothing, the Indians just flat out deserve to have bad things happen to them. At least, however many bad things are left over for them after the Browns get their share. Not that many things have changed.
That’s where my dilemma lies. When a team that hasn’t won in a decade plays a team with voodoo working against them, it’s hard to pick a favorite to win, but someone will, least I’m pretty sure.
There’s still time for that meteor though