The Cleveland Indians are in the national spotlight as a result of making their first World Series in almost two decades. The social landscape has changed a lot since then, and more and more people are taking issue with the team’s Native American moniker and, especially, their logo/mascot Chief Wahoo.
Many people, both Native American or otherwise, feel that the nickname “Indians” is inappropriate. Even more people are opposed to the continued use of Chief Wahoo, a grinning caricature of a red-faced Native, complete with feather. Some compare Chief Wahoo to actors using blackface as a mockery of one particular culture.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred was a guest on ESPN’s Mike and Mike on Tuesday, ahead of Game One of the World Series in Cleveland. While they talked all things baseball, Mike Golic asked Manfred about the controversy before the interview ended. Manfred gave a interesting response, perhaps hinting that the league will at least ask, if not force, the team to move away from the offensive name and logo.
Well, I understand that particular logo is offensive to some people, and I understand why. On the other side of the coin, you have a lot of fans that have history and are invested in the symbols of the Indians. I think that after the World Series, at an appropriate point in time, Mr. [Larry] Dolan and I have agreed we’ll have a conversation about what should happen with that particular logo going forward.
The team has previously said that they would move away from the Chief Wahoo logo in favor of the simple block ‘C’ logo. However, the team was worn their alternate dark uniforms throughout the 2016 postseason, that feature Chief Wahoo on both their jerseys and caps. It was reportedly a player’s decision.
The MLB has previously defended Cleveland’s right to use their long standing name, as recently as the 2016 ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays when an activist filed a legal request to bar the team from using their name and logo while playing games in Toronto. The request was denied denied by an Ontario court.
Here is that section of the interview, if you’re interested: