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Saturday, April 07, 2007


Hail to the Chief

It's baseball season again. Just saying that makes me feel all warm and cozy. My beloved Cleveland Indians are not so warm and cozy. In fact, they've been crushed under the weight of a weekend snowstorm and have not had a chance to play--and beat the living shit out of--the Mariners.

I come, though, not to praise The Tribe, but to whine about them.

I was in the bathroom the other day. I won't say what I was doing, but suffice it to say that our cat had had a very busy day. I took a look in the mirror, at my ratty old Indians t-shirt. Chief Wahoo stared back at me accusingly in the mirror, that big smile of his seemingly asking, "Are you proud of yourself, douchebag? Are you happy to support a team that has me as a mascot?"

And the truth is that I'm not.

The debate has been around for ages, I know. And there are thousands upon thousands of people who think, "What's the big fucking deal?" I can understand their point of view. The name is part of a proud baseball tradition dating back to the early part of the last century. And... Well, actually, that's the only argument I can kind of understand.

Have you looked at Chief Wahoo? Have you seen what a disrespectful caricature of American Indians he is? Can you blame American Indians for protesting this?

Look, I'm not a PC Nazi. I kind of think "hate crimes" have the same amount of hate as regular crimes. I don't think it's a good idea to try to legislate thought. I think that, in general, people get too uptight about this sort of thing and we all would probably benefit from lightening up a bit.

But Chief Wahoo is a bit too much. You'll notice that the Sambo's restaurant chain went out of business a long time ago. You don't see any new Charlie Chan movies popping up in your local cineplex. You think people would feel the same about the Boston Celtics if there mascot wasn't a cute leprechaun, but rather a bloated red-headed dude gnawing on a potato and vomiting on himself while taking a swing at a cop?

And, as some playwright pointed out a long fucking time ago, "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet." It's Cleveland's team. Would people be any less apt to root for them if they were called, say, the Cleveland Comets? (I'm really proud of that name suggestion, by the way, so kiss my ass if you don't think it rocks.)

I do not claim to have the only valid point of view on this. Neither do I think that people who disagree should be boiled in their own mucous. All I know is that, if the Indians were to change their name, I could enjoy my favorite sport without feeling even a tiny bit guilty.

Go Comets!

I'm with most comfortable favorite old hat has Wahoo on it, and I wish that it didn't.

Comets, though? WTF? You suck at naming shit, dude. This dates back to high school when you named your car "The Shatmobile." *cringe*
As someboy who grew up rooting for the other racist mascot baseball team, you know I'm with you. I just can't wear my t-shirts with a tomohawk on them anymore.

It was even worse in the 70s, when they had an actual Indian (as in a Native American, not Apu) mascot who's name was "Chief Nocahoma" (say it out loud).
That's big of you, Joe.
K-jam: See above suggestion for what to do if you don't think the name Comets rocks.

Deni: Yeah. I guess I can take comfort in the fact that we never did the Tomahawk Chop.

ESG: Thanks, I... Hang on, is that a sarcastic "That's big of you"? Or are you saying that I... Dammit, I'm just confused now. Darn this tiny brain of mine!
You're lucky that snowstorm saved your Comets from a thumping by our mighty, mighty M's! You should be thanking the sno...

Christ, I can't even type that with a straight face. Gonna suck to play those make-up games in late August when Cleveland is angling for the playoffs and Bivasi and Hargrove are scouring craigslist together.
No, no, that comment was totally sincere.

When I was a senior in high school, there was a movement to change our school mascot from the "Indians" to something else. They held a vote, and the student body voted to keep the name, but it ended up being changed anyway.

I was mad at the time, mainly because of the whole tradition thing (my mom had attended the same high school as me, and my grandma had been a teacher there, and our teams had been called the "Indians" for over 40 years). And, I admit, it irked me that our vote was overridden and our mascot got changed, while Cleveland and Atlanta and the pro football and hockey teams all kept theirs without apology.

Now, though, I do think it was the right thing to do. In fact, my sweetie is a journalist who used to cover the Minnesota Twins for the Minneapolis paper. One of the things that persuaded me to go out with him was finding out, from a third party, that he had managed to cover the 1991 Twins/Atlanta World Series without ever once using the word "Braves" in print.
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