Things are never as good as they seem, and so it has proven with Cleveland’s MLB team’s name change. The hunch was that they would always wait until 2022 to actually change the name, much like how the Washington Football Team couldn’t find another one for this year. The excuse they’ll trot out is the “logistics” for a change that quick just being too much, but of course owner and chairman Paul Dolan kind of let the cat out of a bag by opening his mouth. When are these presidents and CEOs and owners going to learn that they’re not nearly as smart and swift as their amount of money makes them think they are? To wit:
Now obviously, simply trying to pretend that Cleveland didn’t have an offensive nickname and a horribly offensive logo for the better part of their 105-year history isn’t the way forward either. But “honoring” indigenous peoples through the selling of racist merchandise ain’t it either, boyo.
Dolan makes it clear that they have these things on the racks and they’re not just going to get rid of them for anything new, so they’ll have to sell it all first. And you best believe they’re counting on some of the bombastic blowhards yelling at the rain are going to buy as much of that merch up as they can to own the libs. This will make it easier for fans to spot the assholes sitting near them at The Jake, though. Even more so than the Ohio State gear.
Dolan went on to say that all proceeds from the sale of Chief Wahoo merch would be donated to Native American causes and organizations, which is something of a faint wave of benevolence. What would make more of a mark is Dolan donating some of his own cash to the causes of a people who have been hurt by Cleveland’s logo and name, rather than merely deflecting incoming cash that will assuredly be offset by the rush for new gear when the team announces a new nickname. It would be a much-needed admission that the franchise profited off something that offended and hurt people, and trying to make at least some amends. But you might as well be asking for statehood for Narnia.
And you can be sure there will be some funny business as to what gets defined as Chief Wahoo-emblazoned merch and what cash actually goes into those avenues. Will the hats with just the “I” for Indians be considered in that category? Probably not. Watch the goalposts dance on this one for a while.
Acknowledging your history is not the same thing as selling shirts and hats featuring racist caricatures, and Dolan must know that. Cleveland can certainly put up displays at Progressive Field and pages on their website detailing the club’s history, and why it was a problem, and why they didn’t do anything about it, and then why they made the change. They can list out various causes and organizations that fans can research and donate. That would be taking ownership of your mistakes. Selling off your inventory so you don’t have to eat it — while guising it as a gesture of goodwill — is somewhere around total horseshit, if not up to the knee in it.