I think I was one of the first to re-tweet a picture of Indians fan Dennis Browns’ Indians jersey from which he removed the Wahoo patch. That got people talking about — and sharing — their experiences with “De-Chiefing,” or removing Chief Wahoo from their Indians merchandise. Today Paul Lukas has a story about Brown and others who have done this. Their motivations and the backlash they’ve received.
A lot of that goes exactly how you think it might go, but Lukas does make an excellent but overlooked point regarding all of this, and that’s that the organization’s silence on the matter has created space for the acrimony:
Indians officials have compounded matters by engaging in a slow but unmistakable campaign of de-emphasizing Wahoo, while refusing to acknowledge that that’s what they’re doing, resulting in a leadership vacuum that pro- and anti-Wahoo forces are both anxious to fill.
I started pointing out this de-emphasis on Wahoo a couple of years ago, and I’ll acknowledge that, as a policy, it’s probably the path of least resistance for the Indians to take. If they were to suddenly eliminate Wahoo from their caps and jerseys — or if they were to publicly state that they are getting rid of him eventually — it would create a pretty big firestorm. Political commentators would get in on it and it would be a giant mess that no baseball team wants any part of.
But Lukas is right: the Indians’ silence on this does create something of an adversarial relationship between those who would prefer Wahoo gone and those who would prefer he stay.