Chief Wahoo decision could be sped up because of MLB involvement

Big League Stew

Nobody really expects the controversy surrounding the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo to go away anytime soon. If we’ve learned anything from the drama with the Washington Redskins and their name it’s that these fights are like the Energizer Bunny — they keep going. And going. And going.

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But from the sound of things, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred might have sped up the Indians’ timetable to figure things out when he said last month that he wants the Indians to “transition away” from Wahoo.

That’s actually something the Indians have been doing for a few years now, as they’ve changed their primary logo and de-emphasized Chief Wahoo on some of their uniforms. However, the message the Indians appear to be getting is: “Speed this up.”

A protester outside of Progressive Field before the Indians' home opener. (AP)
A protester outside of Progressive Field before the Indians' home opener. (AP)

Indians owner and CEO Paul Dolan, who is no-doubt in a tough spot here, recently addressed the matter at a sports night held last week at a local Jewish temple. Here’s what he told the crowd in attendance, according to Cleveland Jewish News:

About the controversy surrounding the team’s name and logo, Chief Wahoo that “some want to keep (Wahoo), some want to get rid of him, but the issue is not going to go. We are mindful that there are people who are offended by it, and frankly if you leave Northeastern Ohio, it changes, the prospective on this changes. We were on some path towards a middle ground, I don’t know what that path was, and that’s still where we’re headed, but we’re headed there faster than we’ve ever liked because the commissioner of baseball weighed in on this.”

Dolan said Manfred had reached out to the franchise about its logo, particularly after a Canadian lawsuit was filed against the team and MLB for using the logo during the playoffs against the Toronto Blue Jays in October. Dolan said he favors a reduced use of Wahoo without eliminating the logo, but he suspects the logo will be resolved one way or the other within a couple of years.

The money quote in there is “we’re headed there faster than we’ve ever liked” because Manfred stepped in. The Indians have tried to appease both sides shouting at them about Chief Wahoo — but as you know in 2017, trying to please two sides of any issue hardly ever works.

So what’s next? Ed Carroll from Cleveland Jewish News makes it sound like Dolan is at least aware of the fact that MLB interjecting could be baby steps toward MLB laying down the law. A phrase like “one way or another” doesn’t often make its way into conversations like this one unless there’s a chance some people aren’t going to be happy.

And as long as Chief Wahoo is the news, there’s a really good chance large sections of people won’t be happy. On either side.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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