Yesterday Bill wrote about the continuing — and important — efforts of some to get the Indians to get rid of their racist mascot, Chief Wahoo. The war over the mascot has been long-fought, but the most high-profile battles in this war take place on Opening Day in Cleveland, where the stadium is routinely picketed by anti-Wahoo forces. It’s always picketed by at least some people, but Opening Day is a focal point of these protests.
Two years ago one of the more ridiculous scenes ever witnessed at an Indians Opening Day took place. A fan showed up outside the stadium and got in the face of the protesters. The man was dressed up in stupid faux-Indian regalia and wore redface, which is insane to even contemplate in the 21st Century, but that’s what he was wearing. Even better? He felt it was important to explain to an actual Native American man how he was wrong to take issue with the Indians and their mascot.
Below is the famous photo of the incident, taken by Cleveland Frowns’ Peter Pattakos, who was working with a documentary filmmaker about Chief Wahoo and the “Indians” name. The full story behind what led to that confrontation and some additional photos can be seen here.
It was equal parts ridiculous and offensive and you have to wonder what in the hell the fan in question was thinking.
Well, there’s more to the story. Over at Cleveland Scene, Sam Allard reports that the fan in question, Pedro Rodriguez, showed up again yesterday for the Indians’ postponed Opening Day game and once again met with the Native American in the photo, Robert Roche, who is the local head of the American Indian Education Center. They talked. Rodriguez apologized. They embraced. It was pretty dang touching.
Rodriguez isn’t completely changing his tune. He is still a strong proponent of the Indians nickname — people disagree on the appropriateness of that as well as the mascot — but the tenor of the meeting and the photos from it were far more uplifting than that which went down in 2014. Go click over to see them.
People can change. They can let go of traditions that hurt others without losing anything themselves. It really can happen.
This has been brewing for some time, but last night Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said that the club and Theo Epstein are getting “close” to a contract extension for the team president. When the deal is said and done Epstein, based on some reports about all of this a month or two ago, should be the most highly-paid executive in baseball.
It will be well-deserved. What he did to lead the Boston Red Sox to their first (and second and eventually, after he left, a third) World Series title in decades is well-documented. Maybe not even as documented as it should be, really. It has become somewhat fashionable to diminish Epstein’s contribution to the Red Sox’ success in some ways, saying it was more about Dan Duquette or Ben Cherington or ownership or Terry Francona, but this rings hollow for me.
The Red Sox open their season today. Six men on their 25-man roster will consist of guys from the 2011 draft, which was Epstein’s last with the club. The players: Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Jackie Bradley Jr., Noe Ramirez, Mookie Betts, and Travis Shaw. That number of dudes from one draft on a major league roster is crazy and speaks to how strong an overall organization Epstein helped build in Boston.
And so it is with Chicago. When he took over the Cubs following that 2011 draft the team was a disaster, both on the field and off. There were stacks of paper everywhere to go with antiquated computer systems and antiquated thinking. Now the Cubs are a class organization, top to bottom, and are expected to win for a long time.
Epstein is a Hall of Fame executive. He’s gonna be paid like one. He totally deserves it.
Baseball’s never-ending Opening Day continues today. For a third day. Someone should make a movie about that.
Seeing their first action of the season today will be Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, and Marlins. The Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, every major league team will have debuted by the time we go to bed tonight.
The Astros-Yankees and Red Sox-Indians are obviously makeups from yesterday’s weather postponements. Let’s check in and see how things are looking this morning, shall we?
Hmm. How about in Cleveland?
Hey, clear skies and sunshine! Perfect baseball weather! Play ball!