Chief Wahoo’s Waterloo: With one photo, the debate over the Indians’ logo goes national

by Cleveland Frowns on April 10, 2014

The debate over the Indians’ name, too, technically. Anyway, here’s this week’s cover of Scene, with a story by Sam Allard that includes more detail about last week’s Opening Day encounter between Robert Roche (at left) and Pedro Rodriguez (in redface), including a lot of quotes from Roche and Rodriguez themselves, as well as from other Cleveland baseball fans who shared their thoughts about the anti-Wahoo and team name protesters.

Wahoo's Waterloo

“Only twice in three hours did we observe pro-Wahoo folks talk politely with the protesters about the root of their opposition or try to explain their own difficulties with the logo,” Allard writes, before getting to specifics, like, “Talk to Obama if you think it’s racist,” and “It’s funny because they all look homeless.” 

Thanks to the folks at Scene for continuing to keep a light on this issue.

Please check back tomorrow or Saturday with a post on a big Sin Tax/Issue 7- related announcement, and for an excellent read check out Dan McGraw’s latest at Belt Magazine on Cleveland’s problem with attracting and integrating immigrants into the City.

  • Cleveland Frowns

    Oh, I did a podcast with WFNY’s Craig Lyndall yesterday on Wahoo and Sin Tax stuff if anyone’s interested.

    Curious to hear what folks think of McGraw’s immigration piece. He’s doing such excellent work for Belt.

    • Shadow_play

      Belt Magazine is a really great site. I want to thank you for sending me their way a few months back. That immigration piece was really good and had a lot to digest. What pains me about reading pieces like this, and also the great piece on the Burke Airport, is that local government almost never has an answer to the questions presented. It seems I read a lot of either “Mayor Jackson was asked to comment but gave no response” or if there is a response it is just a non-committal “We are working toward what’s best for the city.”

    • Allen Pervo

      Another “thank you” for referring us to Belt. Terrific site, so much so that I ante’d up a membership.

      The immigration piece was as excellent as it is depressing. As much as I want to be optimistic about the future of our region, the continued failure of our leadership to grasp symbiotic opportunities (such as natural resources and immigration-friendly neighborhoods) to recover and grow really makes it tough.

      • Cleveland Frowns

        Really happy to introduce folks to Belt but I don’t think failure of leadership is something that’s unique to Cleveland at all. Politics and media are broken all over the country (and the developed world) for obvious rea$on$. I think it might just be easier to see here because Mother Nature loves Cleveland the most (LOL).

        • Shadow_play

          “Politics and media are broken all over the country (and the developed world) for obvious rea$on$. ” Thanks for the perspective, but that really just depresses me further. I guess I’m just wondering how these $y$tem$ can be broken. I am encouraged by the work that you do here and that Belt Magazine does as well.

    • jimkanicki

      loved the podcast. random and tangential points.

      1. i share craig’s like of the Rock-a-Fella logo but for it to happen, a rule would have to change. Currently teams are not allowed to profit from likenesses of deceased players. One would think something could be worked out with Feller’s heirs, but still that’s a current hurdle.
      2. when i watch the indians and hear rick manning tell me issue 7 wont raise taxes, i cringe. it’s not a lie I guess but if taxes are scheduled to be reduced and this vote keeps them the same.. then the net is that you will pay more tax if this vote passes. i just find that tack shady. yet i suspect it will be effective.
      3. i was hoping you two would touch more on mr. rodriguez. i find his story very interesting and his big day maybe a screenplay/modern-parable. here’s this guy who obviously feels strongly about wahoo but who maybe didnt think it all the way through and then was forced to. he’s kinda saul on the road to damascus. ive noticed that youve treated him ‘care’.. i wonder if you picked on something as in a real life example that the issue awareness raising has yielded a tangible convert?

      • Warburton MacKinnon

        a follow up interview would seem to be in order and possibly great. I wonder though wether or not he gave Frowns contact info…though I guess it wouldn’t be hard to find now,but if he gave it it would say he is open to revisiting the issue.

    • jamick6000

      I like the Belt a lot and this reporter’s other work; thanks for introducing me to it.

      Read the article and I’m not a big fan of this one in particular, for a couple reasons.

      1. I thought the “native born panhandlers” line at the end was a huge cheap shot. and i think he kind of scapegoats black people and unions.

      2. It presents more immigrants as a panacea, and i thuink the idea that more immigration will save our economy sounds nice but if you do some quick math you can see it’s absurd.

      He writes, “Breaking down the numbers more reveals how far Cleveland has fallen compared to other major American cities. For instance, the number of high-tech immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States grew by 63 percent between 2000 and 2011, while in the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area, the number grew by only 43 percent, from 244 to 350.”

      Say that we did have the *same* rate of increase in high tech entrepreneurs. That would mean 47 more high tech entrepreneurs in the cleveland metro area.

      Say each employs 10 people (I think this is reasonable because tech startups usually aren’t huge?). This would mean 470 more jobs if we grew at the same rate as nationally. Cleveland metropolitan area has 3.5 million people in it (source — google), say that the labor force size is 1.2 million in the area.

      This would give an increase in jobs of .004 percent.

      Say we increased the rate of growth in attracting high tech entrepreneurs magically by ***10 TIMES, HUGE SUCCESS*** the national average, now we’ve got a .04 percent increase.

      This is not a solution. The problem is that 30 years of trade policy by the federal government has destroyed Cleveland’s economy.

  • actovegin1armstrong

    I hope this pic becomes as popular and powerful as the native american shedding a tear in the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign.

  • nj0

    I have been MIA and missed all this. Very well done. A few people working hard and smart enough can create change.

  • Warburton MacKinnon

    nice article from scene, being on point and pointing out Rodriguez wasn’t drunk nor an asshole excluding him wearing redface,abd great contrast to most fans it seems that are pro-wahoo

  • Joe Bialek

    This issue is the absurdity of absurdities. Let me get this straight: the purpose of the Sin Tax is to gouge those who purchase alcohol and cigarettes not because anyone is trying to discourage consumption but rather so the County can use that money to pay for sports stadiums that do not produce anything but a fleeting moment witnessing the passing of a football, the dribbling of a basketball and the throwing of a baseball so that such a minute tidbit of diversion can be enjoyed by all. The stupidity of this proposition is enough to make your head spin even though the spin doctors advocating passage of this nonsense are already doing a pretty good job of hypnotizing the voters to actually consider supporting it. At least the Robber Barons of the previous centuries provided something tangible such as oil, steel, railroads etcetera. These team owners do not even provide one tangible thing that could ever be considered with the term “value added.” Almost everyone discusses this “enterprise” as though it is the same thing as industry {which it is not}. The price of admission is essentially a voluntary tax paid by those who can afford it to pay those who don’t need it. If this isn’t a transfer of wealth I don’t know what is.

    The real outrage here is the fact that taxes on alcohol and cigarettes will not be used to aid in the reduction of addiction {hence the reference to “sin”} but rather to stuff the pockets of all three teams who could easily afford to pay for the repairs themselves. The vote was rammed through the last time {under somewhat suspicious circumstances} and hear we go again. But this time…not so fast!!! We the voters of Cuyahoga County are going to fight the proponents on this one and we don’t care if the teams up and go somewhere else {please see my views on entertainment below} because quite frankly there are simply more important things than sports and the unearned money that comes with it. Those in public office who are too stupid and lazy to find other ways to grow a major American city need to resign and leave their self-seeking political ambitions on the scrapheap of history. Don’t ever let it be said that this was time when the tide ran out on Cuyahoga County but rather was the time when the voters rose up to welcome the rising tide of change and rebuked this pathetic paradigm our previous elected leaders embraced. Let the battle be joined.

    And now to the real underlying issue at hand:

    One of the most disturbing facts about our capitalist nation is the misappropriation of funds directed to the salaries of entertainers. Everyone should agree that the value an athlete, movie star, talk-show host, team-owner, etcetera brings to the average citizen is very small. Granted, they do offer a minuscule of diversion from our daily trials and tribulations as did the jesters in the king’s court during the middle ages. But to allow these entertainers to horde such great amounts of wealth at the expense of more benevolent societal programs is unacceptable. They do not provide a product or a service so why are they rewarded as such?

    Our society is also subjected to the “profound wisdom” of these people because it equates wealth with influence. Perhaps a solution to this problem and a alternative to defeated school levies, crumbling infrastructures, as well as all the programs established to help feed, clothe and shelter those who cannot help themselves would be to tax this undeserved wealth. Entertainers could keep 1% of the gross earnings reaped from their endeavor and 99% could be deposited into the public coffers.

    The old ideas of the redistribution of wealth have failed, and it is time to adapt to modern-day preferences. People put their money into entertainment above everything else; isn’t it time to tap that wealth? Does anyone think this will reduce the quality of entertainment? It seems to me that when entertainers received less income, the quality was much higher.

  • Trent

    I am with you on this…. You moved me over with the Joe Lull audio…. “Why can’t they stand up for themselves?” – well Joe Lull considering their race was nearly wiped out and they are still recovering from that and other social issues…

    The arguments for it are a mess… Just a bunch of people doubling down on their own stupidity.

    How about we yank wahoo and let the Native American tribes create their own symbol that they can be proud of to symbolize their people… Honor their people… Give them a voice through the Franchise. I feel like just removing all ties to the Indians is just furthering our past sins of removing them from the land.

    However, if that’s what they want… So be it…

    Keep up the great work… And ignore the doubling down on ignorance… They are just scarred to admit the truth…

  • Cleveland Frowns

    Here’s our proposal for an obviously preferable alternative to the Sin Tax:

    Will have a post up on it and the Pro Sinners’ incredible response to it hopefully tomorrow.

  • Cleveland Frowns

    Local immigration attorney Richard Herman posted the following on facebook that I think is worth sharing here:

    “At least for this long-time Indians, Cavs and Browns fan, the gig is up. The “fan experience” has been soiled. The “Sin Tax” is not about preserving community assets or supporting the common good. This is big money at play. The teams and their lobbyists have over-reached, baring fangs rather than a Norman Rockwell smile.

    “After hearing Indians radio announcer Tom “Hammy” Hamilton, in his rapid-fire voice dripping with Americana and apple pie, peddle the Sin Tax during a recent Indians broadcast, after watching the Cavs claim that a facility-fee is bad (while pocketing their own facility-fee), after watching Jimmy Haslem’s other company over-charge consumers they felt were too “unsophisticated” to notice, after watching their scoreboards flash advertisements supporting the sin tax, after listening to the owners ask for millions more from taxpayers for flashy new scoreboards (to generate new advertising revenue for the owners), after listening to Shapiro defend the immoral corporate logo of Chief Wahoo, after seeing them enjoy sweetheart leases, charge $8 for a beer (at least that’s a real consumer-borne charge), and seek sin tax subsidizes from those Cuyahoga County residents who drink or smoke (while none of the money goes to curbing the abuse of those “sins”) to underwrite sports entertainment for a large number of consumers who don’t even live in Cuyahoga County…..

    “whew…. at least for me, I’ve got to say, “enough.”

    “Using the “Keep Cleveland Strong” mantra, talking of community assets, parading Frank Jackson and Kevin Kelley and pr wizards from GCP (a chamber that is member-driven, by a few corporate players, usually real estate related, not community –driven), in one of the poorest and fastest depopulating cities in America, is insulting to the taxpayers intelligence and has an Orwellian flair.

    “The “fan experience” — a blend of supreme athleticism, family and community camaraderie, nostalgia and a suspension of disbelief that the product being purchased was less about billionaires shaking down the consumer and more about the purity of the product, is, at least for me, gone. Oink….oink.

    “Economic development… real economic development…. is about people. Not buildings. It’s about good paying jobs….not minimum wage jobs selling hot dogs. It’s about bringing a divided and segregated community….together. It’s about taking control of our own destiny.

    “Want an authentic fan experience? Adopt a local high school or college team……and watch the magic (without having to hold on to your wallet).”

  • Cleveland Frowns

    Another good post on Wahoo by @NathanielBowler:

  • Sherrie Noble

    Ok, sports, all sports, for the owners are a combination business/vanity project. I would love to untangle the sin tax from the MLB team name/logo(Wahoo is officially a logo, the mascot is Slider last I checked) issue. Not sure that is possible. I have an transcript of a discussion larry Dolan had in Oberlin at the College when he was a trustee some years ago. Dolan firmly rejected the idea that Wahoo is racist. He’s a lawyer. I wonder what definition he was using?

    For myself I find this useful: The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. From Oxford Dictionary as a noun

    Racist, same source: Having or showing the belief that a particular race is superior to another:

    Seems clear to me the name and logo are both evidence or racism and racist and at a place of public accommodation both the team and the municipal stadium can be charged as perpetuating discrimination. If the current Supreme court were a bit more reliable couldn’t a case be brought, by Native Americans or any American that the sin tax is using government to perpetuate racism? Take about a big issue!

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