Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has shown a willingness to make changes to the game since he took over. Some of his ideas have been implemented quickly. Between-innings breaks have been shortened, and pitch clocks have been installed in the minor-leagues. Others, like trying to make the game more appealing to a younger audience, have become more of an ongoing process.
The issue of the Cleveland Indians and mascot Chief Wahoo falls into the latter category. Since Manfred has taken over as commissioner, he’s been asked countless times about whether he believes the team should use the mascot.
While Manfred has acknowledged he understands why a certain set of fans find the logo offensive, and has hinted that he would like to see some changes made, he has yet to give a definitive answer on how the Indians and league plan to work through the issue.
That still appears to be the case. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Manfred said his conversations with the Indians regarding Chief Wahoo are ongoing, but held off revealing much more than that.
Manfred’s full quote read:
“I said during the postseason that I understand why some people have concerns about the logo. I think that’s pretty straightforward. We’re having conversations, ongoing, with the owners of the Indians about exactly what should be done with this logo. Those conversations will continue. When we’re ready to give you the full-blown plan, we will get it out there.”
While Manfred failed to give specific details, the team has made an effort to slowly moving away from Chief Wahoo in recent years. Cleveland made the “Block C” its primary logo back in 2014, though Chief Wahoo still appears on certain uniforms.
The controversy over the mascot grew louder during the team’s World Series run. Along the way, the team faced a court order seeking to bar the mascot in Ontario. While that didn’t work, Toronto Blue Jays play-by-play man Jerry Howarth refused to say the team name during broadcasts.
Once Cleveland reached the World Series, Wahoo’s usage became impossible to ignore. Native American groups protested prior to games at Progressive Field. During the games, shots of fans dressed in red-face or holding signs featuring the mascot were tough to miss.
As Manfred says in his above quote, he met with team owners around this time to discuss utilizing the logo.
While nothing definitive came out of those meetings, the team took another step in phasing out the mascot during the offseason. The team’s 2017 blue home alternate jerseys will no longer feature the Chief Wahoo cap. Instead, the team will wear a red “Block C” cap with those uniforms. Wahoo will still appear on the jersey’s sleeves, but it’s another small step toward making the mascot less visible moving forward.
So far, that appears to be the extent of Manfred’s meetings with the team. Based on his comments, however, more changes could be coming in the future.
Those changes may not come quickly. Manfred has shown a willingness to be patient when it comes to important issues. He was criticized by some for his handling of players subject to the league’s new domestic violence policy. Though Manfred ruled on all those cases before those players stepped back on the field, some thought he could have acted sooner.
That may be the case here. Manfred will wait until he finds a solution he deems to be appropriate. While that’s going to frustrate some fans who want Wahoo gone now, the patient approach has worked for Manfred in the past.
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