Ed Carroll of Cleveland Jewish News reports* that Indians owner Paul Dolan spoke at an event last week and, during a Q&A with audience members, revealed that Chief Wahoo is either on the way out or on its way to extreme marginalization. Dolan said that this is happening “faster than we’ve ever liked” because of the involvement of Commissioner Manfred. He characterized the timetable on all of that as “within a couple of years.”
As we’ve noted, Manfred and, by extension, Major League Baseball recently changed its stance on Wahoo from one in which he merely understood that some people find the logo offensive to having a clear desire for the Indians to chuck it. As Carroll notes, Dolan prefers some middle ground approach but it sounds as if there is more pressure being brought to bear on the Indians by Manfred than Dolan expected.
I’m not sure that there is a “middle ground” on racist caricatures. I’m not sure that anyone is free and clear of criticism if they, say, have the players not wear a sambo character on their caps yet sell shirts and stuff with it on them in the team store off the main concourse. I’m not sure how, if one team is banning fans for life for uttering racial slurs, another team is totally cool to let fans dress up in racially insensitive costumes, complete with redface. Racism is racism and wrong is wrong.
I guess Dolan thinks he’s going to get to that sort of compromise under pressure from Major League Baseball. If MLB can pressure Dolan like that, however, it ought to use that pressure to completely eliminate the logo, not to simply marginalize it.
*UPDATE: Originally this post said that Vince Grzegorek of Cleveland Scene reported Dolan’s comments. There was a post about this there, but Carroll and Cleveland Jewish News originally reported Dolan’s comments.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.