Friday, October 05, 2007

Tribe Gets Off to a Good Start

Game One of the playoffs went unexpectedly well for the Indians last night, with a lopsided victory. Here's hoping for more of the same in game two this evening. A handful of observations:

Can we stop obsessing over the ridiculous non-issue of Lebron James rooting for the Yankees? Only someone without a life of their own (and possibly without a brain in their head) would waste even a minute worrying about who a 21-year-old kid chooses to root for on the baseball diamond. Is Cleveland's civic self-confidence that fragile that grown people are fretting about this? As new PD sportswriter Terry Pluto observed on WCPN yesterday, from the volume of complaints streaming into the paper about it, "you'd think he wants to blow up the Cleveland Public Schools." Time to grow up, folks (not you, dear reader).

The Indians front office did make one classy move yesterday: inviting longtime bleacher-dweller drummer John Adams to bask in national publicity by throwing out the first pitch. For 34 years, the AT&T technician has been showing up with his drum, banging away through some very lean years in old Municipal Stadium. Along with the Browns' rabid Dawg Pound devotees, he's come to symbolize the town's long-suffering sports fans. Only he's a much better symbol, I think, because he embodies a strain of humble blue-collar work ethic that we could all use some more of.

Finally, this complaint about the team's Chief Wahoo logo, from a fan who posted his thoughts on the New York Times baseball blog today: "Is there ever a point in Cleveland where the fans feel a little silly to call their team “the tribe” and use that racist redfaced logo? Would it be acceptable to have a depiction of someone in blackface grinning ear to ear? Of course not."
UPDATE: The Plain Dealer chose to continue to stoke this meaningless "controversy" with a juvenile point-counterpoint pairing of stories (headlined "Lose the Lid" and "Keep the Hat") on its secondary front page. But at least Patrick O'Donnell, who drew the latter assignment, asked the right question: "Does our regional self-esteem hinge on whether our athletes think just like us?" That sounds a tad familiar, doesn't it?


At 10:03 PM, Blogger redhorse said...

Is Cleveland's civic self-confidence that fragile that grown people are fretting about this?

Apparently, John, the answer is yes. I agree with you, it's a non-issue. Fans should get past it and, oh, I don't know, maybe just root for the guys wearing Indians jerseys instead of obsessing over what a basketball star puts on his head?

At 10:44 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

You said it, man. And now, up 2-0, we have even less reason to worry about stupid things like this. Now, we can think about a possible return to the World Series.

At 3:47 PM, Anonymous MilesB said...

I agree. It's largely a non-issue.

However, I do give props to LBJ for coming out and supporting his team, no matter the consequences. And, I think it shows a lot of cajones to root for the Yankees against the Indians. And if nothing else, it gives the media something to kvetch about...

At 5:20 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I agree, Miles. As always, Lebron comes out of this looking like the class act, and the one who's mature beyond his years.

At 6:31 PM, Blogger redhorse said...

The irony, John and Miles, is the incessant call on talk radio to let LeBron be, hey he's just a kid and kids do silly things.

The silly ones are the older folks bent over he headwear choice.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Precisely right on the irony, horse man. That's basically what I was alluding to, but you articulated it precisely. Terry Pluto, who's known and covered Lebron since he was 15, has an interesting theory about this, which I think is right. He says that Lebron's a guy who has mostly done all the right things, all the things he's expected to do (and more), but that like every kid, he feels the urge to rebel here and there. And so his harmless rebellion takes the form of rooting for the Cowboys and the Yanks, historically the opposite of sports underdogs.

At 8:41 AM, Blogger Christine said...

I was horrified and embarrassed to see Chief Wahoo. I wanted to shrink into the couch cushions and disappear. I thought they were phasing it out.

Now, I'm not prone to strong statements, but there's no way Cleveland is ever going to be thought of as a progressive place with Chief Wahoo around.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Okay, this isn't the popular position, I know, but I happen to love the Chief Wahoo logo for its very over-the-topness (even mild shock value, you might say), plus the fact that it has roots going back more than half a century (if you think the current logo is racist, you should see the one they used 40 or 50 years ago). We're about the last team that hasn't caved to the PC police on this, and I find that kind of cool, I must admit.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Christine said...

Interestingly, after seeing plenty of representations of the old mascot at the Baseball Hall of Fame last year, I concluded that the new Chief Wahoo is much worse.

I grew up seeing the Chief and not really thinking about what was wrong with it until I moved to Montana, where there were lots of Native Americans.

If you think of Native Americans as a conquered people - which they are, essentially - doesn't parading Chief Wahoo around seem a little bit like, I dunno, rubbing salt in their wounds?

Did the Ostrogoths make cheap souvenirs depicting grinning, hook-nosed Romans to sell at their barbarian games? (The archaeological record suggests no...but what if they did? Wouldn't that have been, at the very least, slightly tacky?)

At 9:10 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

That's an interesting observation about the Indians logos, Christine. I've never really looked at them side by side, but now I will. I guess it's all in the way you interpret it. The old logo emphasized the nose more, while the new one has giant teeth. Pick your poison.


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