You’ve heard me go on and on about Chief Wahoo before. If you think I’m just being an alarmist liberal pansy about it, however, I’d ask that you educate yourself a bit and understand what Wahoo is really all about.
You can do that by reading my friend Peter Pattakos’ excellent article about it in the latest edition of Cleveland Scene. I think this quote from a team executive is telling:
“When people look at Chief Wahoo, they think baseball,” says DiBiasio. He calls the issue “one of individual perception” and explains that the franchise’s “acknowledgment to the sensitivities involved” is evidenced by the fact that it “does not animate nor humanize the logo.”
But the questions raised by the organization’s stance on the symbol are as glaring as Wahoo’s skin tone. If it’s a matter of individual perception, why would the perception of those who “think of baseball” when they see the logo matter more than the perception of those who see a demeaning vestige of America’s racist past? If the Indians recognize that it would be wrong to animate the logo, why keep it around at all?
And if they try not to “humanize” Wahoo, are they not admitting that, in its current form, it’s rather dehumanizing?
I know there is zero chance that this comments thread won’t turn into the same old Wahoo debate we always have. But what those often tend to lack is actual history and information. To that end, I ask that you read Peter’s article. You’ll learn about the origin of Wahoo and the nature of the opposition to the logo.
You’ll be shocked to learn that, yes, real people are deeply and personally affected by Wahoo. It’s not just liberal pansies like me.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.