Yesterday, when we learned that the Cleveland Indians were going to host the 2019 All-Star Game, I asked whether or not Major League Baseball, in exchange for granting the Indians the biggest, most lucrative gift the league can give a team, extracted any promises from them regarding Chief Wahoo. Which would be appropriate given that Manfred himself suggested in October that the league would like to see the end of the Indians racist logo.
Today Paul Hoynes reports that Manfred and Indians owner Paul Dolan met to discuss Wahoo before the All-Star Game announcement. They are not talking about those conversations other than acknowledging that they occurred:
“I’m not going to speculate on what I want the end of the process to be,” Manfred when asked about Chief Wahoo after the All-Star Game announcement. “Paul has been fantastic about engaging. We’ve had a number of conversations.
“I want those conversations to continue and I think we’ll produce a result that will be good for the Indians and good for baseball. But what exactly that is I don’t want to speculate.”
If the end process is not the total elimination of Chief Wahoo, than Major League Baseball has squandered the best chance it will ever have to exert any sort of pressure on the Indians about this. The All-Star Game now awarded, there is not a future sanction or enticement the league can offer that can compare. The Indians, riding the highest amounts of good will following an American League Pennant and the signing of a major free agent this offseason, will never have more political capital to burn with their fan base.
So we’re left to trust Manfred that he did what a lawyer like him with years of negotiating experience would naturally do in the situation in which he has found himself: used his leverage to get a thing he is on record as saying he wants. If he did, wonderful. We’d like to hear about it soon, and in concrete terms. If he did not, it’s either evidence of poor negotiating skills or, alternatively, evidence that his claim that he is appreciative of the ugliness of one of Major League Baseball’s 30 clubs sporting racist caricatures on national television is phony.