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.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.