The story behind that awkward Chief Wahoo confrontation at Progressive Field on Opening Day

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In Cleveland on Opening Day, we were treated to a photo of a guy painted up in red-face confronting an actual Indian protesting Chief Wahoo outside of Progressive Field. The photo was taken by Cleveland Frowns’ Peter Pattakos, who is working with a documentary filmmaker about Chief Wahoo and the “Indians” name. Today he has the full story behind what led to that confrontation and some additional photos. Including a fantastic one of the red-faced fan apparently explaining to the actual Indian why it’s cool for him to dress up in redface.

I think the most interesting thing about it is that the fan does not, based on Peter’s description, seem to be motivated by racism. Which I think is the case with most people who are cool with Wahoo. It’s not about racism for them. It’s that they never put two-and-two together and appreciate that it actually bugs people. When they are forced to — as this fan was here — it’s amazing how soon they become reasonable about the matter. Or at least appear to on the surface.

That’s the thing about Wahoo that those who defend him don’t usually get: no one is saying people who wear it are inherently and necessarily racist. It’s that they’re insensitive and oblivious to the fact that the caricature itself is a clearly racist symbol. It’s the former assumption those who reflexively defend Wahoo are usually defending. The idea that they’re racists. It’s the latter part that they cannot seem to grok.

Victor Martinez played his final major league game on Saturday

Victor Martinez
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.

In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.

The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.

“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”

Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.