Major League Baseball issues a statement on Chief Wahoo

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A court in Ontario is hearing arguments today on an attempt to bar the Cleveland Indians from using their team name and Chief Wahoo logo during tonight’s playoff game in Toronto. This based on a legal challenge by indigenous activist and architect Douglas Cardinal, who claims that the logo and team name violate human rights laws in Ontario.

The hearing is ongoing at the moment. Based on the comments coming out of the hearing — in one the judge asked how the game would be played if the Indians were not allowed to wear uniforms with their name and/or the Wahoo logo — it seems likely that the injunction will not be granted. We’ll update you if and when that changes, of course. UPDATE: The judge has dismissed the application for an injunction. The Indians can use their name and logo in tonight’s game.

In the meantime, Major League Baseball has issued a statement about the matter and about Chief Wahoo in general:

“Major League Baseball appreciates the concerns of those that find the name and logo of the Cleveland Indians to be offensive.  We would welcome a thoughtful and inclusive dialogue to address these concerns outside the context of litigation. Given the demands for completing the League Championship Series in a timely manner, MLB will defend Cleveland’s right to use their name that has been in existence for more than 100 years.”

It was a ready-made statement that other media outlets are carrying, but I’ll note that it was given to me in that exact form based on specific questions I posed to MLB this afternoon that did not deal specifically with the Ontario litigation. It makes one suspect that Major League Baseball has no desire whatsoever to weigh in on Chief Wahoo one way or the other, despite the fact that it and all of its clubs make money on the racist caricature via MLB’s shared revenue for merchandise sales. And, of course, despite the fact that the Indians and their mascot stand a good chance of representing one of its leagues in baseball’s most important event, the World Series.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.