Indians Buddy Bell

The Best and Worst Uniforms of All Time: The Cleveland Indians

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The Best: Let’s be clear about something: I despise Chief Wahoo. I despise him with the intensity of a thousand burning suns. He’s racist. He’s stupid. And anyone who defends him as “part of the team’s culture and history” should defend this, this and this and argue in favor of their continued use or else they should just shut the hell up about it.  If I ran that team I’d scrub Wahoo out of all current merchandise and marketing materials faster than you can sing a medley of “Kaw-Liga” and “Running Bear.”  For now, however, I’m just rating uniforms, so the best I can do is to eschew every single uni that included Wahoo in some way. That takes out the bulk of the past 60 years and — until they get rid of the lone, small Wahoo on the sleeve — keeps me from picking their home alternates as the best, even if they look great otherwise.  Non-Wahoo division: I love the the 1921 ‘World’s Champions” look just like I loved it when the Giants did it back in the aughts. More practically speaking, I liked the early 40s ensemble.

The Worst: Obviously anything with Wahoo. Let’s go with these as the worst, because from what I can tell it’s the largest Wahoo the Indians ever used. Non-Wahoo category: the all-red 1975-76 ensemble would have been terrible even if Boog Powell had never joined the team.

Assessment: Every time I bring Wahoo up, the conversation takes on the same pattern, so let me at least try to preempt a few comments: I don’t have a problem with “Indians” as a team nickname. People feel differently about that, I realize, but I think of it as harmless. As far as names go, only “Redskins” is bad in my view, inasmuch as it is an epithet in and of itself. “Indians,” “Braves,” “Blackhawks” and the like are not problematic as far as I’m concerned, inasmuch they’re not demeaning a people with racist caricature or stereotype. Sure, you may need to be more careful about how you use the trappings of the nickname in such instances — no white boys in war paint going “woo woo woo!” and no Tomahawk Chop — but the name itself doesn’t strike me as problematic.

If you wish to take issue with me on that, please first tell me where you stand on the Wahoo issue. Because I’m willing to be persuaded on the names thing by people who are reasonable. If, on the other hand, you can’t acknowledge that a red-faced, big-toothed, hook-nosed Indian is offensive, and you are simply taking me to task on the “Indians” thing as a means of showing me to be a hypocrite, then no, I won’t listen to you or respond to you. In such an instance I am merely drawing an arguable line. You, on the other hand, are being either schizophrenic (“Chief Wahoo is OK, but ‘Indians’ is not!”) or else you’re just being cute. The image is a zillion times worse than the name and you know it.

Bet you weren’t expecting a rant like that in a uniforms post.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.