Foul Bawl? The Cleveland Indians Toss Around a Name Change

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
AP featured image
A Chief Wahoo logo is shown on a baseball at the Cleveland Indians team shop, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, in Cleveland. Divisive and hotly debated, the Chief Wahoo logo is being removed from the Cleveland Indians’ uniform next year. The polarizing mascot is coming off the team’s jersey sleeves and caps starting in the 2019 season. The Club will still sell merchandise featuring the mascot in Northeast Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


It’s happening, just as you suspected: The Cleveland Indians have announced they’re contemplating a change.

Is it an offense to name your team after a group? How about the Yankees? Or the Steelers? Those, of course, are geographical and occupational references. If the name concerns the many tribes present in the early days of America, is that worse?

Some believe so. Therefore, following in the footsteps of the Washington Redskins, Cleveland is open to a new normal.

From the team’s statement via Twitter:

We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality. Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.

We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.

With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.

While the focus of the baseball world shifts to the excitement of an unprecedented 2020 season, we recognize our unique place in the community and are committed to listening, learning and acting in the manner that can best unite and inspire our city and all those who support our team


It’s a hot topic, and who’s right?

As for the word “Indian,” it’s been maligned by some for quite a time, despite the fact that tribe members use it: Consider the 98-year-old Association of American Indian Affairs as well as — for American Indian Movement.


At some point, wordsmiths decided members of the nation’s tribes should be called “Native Americans,” using that term (which denotes one’s birthplace) to instead mean one’s heritage. That usage, however, is misapplied according to experts who say those forming tribes in North America came here from Asia by way of the Bering Strait.

So where does that leave us?

And here’s a question: If you remove from the American lexicon all references to the country’s tribes, have you honored them or simply thinned the evidence of their existence?

Either way, certainly not every reference is created equal. Cleveland made that clear in early 2018, when it (sort of?) got rid of its mascot, Chief Wahoo. The Chief had been a staple since 1948.

At the time, The Daily Wire noted the alteration had been impending:

The Indians say the change has been in the works for some time, though they did not meet the deadline to have the mascot removed from the 2018 regulation uniforms, which must go into mass production before Spring Training begins in February. This season, fans will notice a scaled back Chief Wahoo presence, and he’ll be totally scrubbed by the beginning of the 2019 season.


Wahoo got replaced by the letter C.

And now, perhaps, the evolution continues.

Props to RedState’s Mike Miller — he called it Friday:

[M]emo to fans of the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Golden State Warriors, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Black Hawks, and Edmonton Eskimos: Your time is coming. Soon.

You’ve got your finger on the pulse of America, Mike. Let’s see how those other franchises make out.

A question I have is this: Putting Cleveland wholly aside, given the many things that are being canceled and undone…once we’ve erased everything, what will be left? Will nothing be about anything?

Will statues not exist, old television shows not exist, old music by old artists not exist, and history not exist?

Will you down your favorite generally-labeled cereal complimented by some generally-labeled orange juice and generally-labeled grits, and munch on a generally-labeled snack cake — all of which you bought from the generally-labeled grocery store? One of the things that makes life interesting is the specificity and quirkiness of names and labels surrounding us. Is each of us headed for an ACME-packed cartoon of a life? What will still be woke-approved?

Will you go to the stadium to watch the Pennsylvania Ironing Boards dig deep into the skirmish against the Iowa Dust Particles? Will you paint your face, hustle to the TwitterDome, and cheer on your beloved Condensation Measurements as they take on the rival Sheetrock Panels? How generic are we going here?


In the end, what will be left? Or Left?

It looks like we’re on a course to find out. Man, does it look like we’re gonna find out.



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