Posted on October 26, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
One of the unfortunate bi-products of the Cleveland Indians reaching the World Series is that it has brought negative attention to the team with regard to their logo, Chief Wahoo, who many have deemed offensive to Native Americans. There’s little that Major League Baseball can do about the issue in the middle of the World Series, although MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said that after the season he plans to sit down and discuss the issue with team owner Larry Dolan.
The issue is not with the name of the team, which distinguishes the situation with the Indians from that of the Washington Redskins, who have been criticized for having both an offensive name and logo. However, the caricature of Chief Wahoo has drawn the ire of Native American groups, including those who were outside Progressive Field protesting during Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night.
While appearing on ESPN’s Mike & Mike Tuesday morning, Manfred was asked about the controversy surrounding Cleveland’s logo. “I understand that particular logo is offensive to some people, and I understand why,” Manfred said. “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. Dolan and I have agreed we’ll have a conversation about what should happen with that particular logo going forward.”
A MLB spokesperson has since confirmed that both sides have agreed to discuss the matter during the offseason. Two years ago, the Indians made their block-C logo their primary logo. However, players voted prior to the postseason to wear their second alternate dark blue Wahoo uniforms for the duration of the playoffs. Cleveland’s home jerseys also feature Chief Wahoo, and so the logo has been visible on Cleveland’s jerseys during their run to the World Series.
The Chief Wahoo image created a stir earlier this postseason when an indigenous protester in Canada filed an injunction to prevent the Indians from using the logo while playing in Toronto during the ALCS. That injunction was denied, but it did force MLB to issue a statement to acknowledge the issue.
“Major League Baseball appreciates the concerns of those that find the name and logo of the Cleveland Indians to be offensive,” the statement read. “We would welcome a thoughtful and inclusive dialogue to address these concerns outside the context of litigation. Given the demands for completing the League Championship Series in a timely manner, MLB will defend Cleveland’s right to use their name that has been in existence for more than 100 years.”
However, that statement and the promise to discuss it during the offseason has not stopped Native American groups from protesting at the World Series, as they wish to bring awareness to the issue and force the team to do away with its Chief Wahoo logo once and for all. It seems likely that those protesting at Game 1 will continue to do so throughout the World Series, as those who oppose the logo are quite adamant in their stance.
At this point, there’s little that Manfred and MLB can do about the logo in the middle of the World Series. The promise that the issue will be discussed this winter should be seen as a small step in the right direction for protesters. Of course, there’s no guarantee that anything will come from those talks. We’ll just have to wait and see what Manfred, Dolan, and others come up with this offseason to address Cleveland’s controversial logo.