Is it me, or is Chief Wahoo, the symbol of the Indians for almost a century, one of the most racist caricatures of a human that one could draw? It is almost as bad as the cartoon ads from pre-WWII Nazi Germany depicting Jewish citizens as evil incarnations. It is appalling that MLB could let this go on for that many years.
Having said that, however, it is also something that is near and dear to me, though not for its potential to incite. It is a reminder of something I love, something that brings me back to my childhood, something that bound me to my dad, and my son to me. It is a momento, a symbol, a touchstone that makes me wish I had swung the bat some more or played more catch with my dad.
It is me.
How could I be a grotesque like this? How could I let this be part of my identity? Well, let's go back to psychotherapy to determine that. But really, it is that I identify with the Indians, perennial losers and runner-ups, only winners in the movies, second fiddle to the Red Sox or Yankees for WAY too many years. Even in David Halberstam's fantastic Summer of '49, the Indians were the foil to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Good, but not good enough. Jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
Yes, that is how I have always thought of myself. I yearned to be a great baseball player. My heydey was 8-year-old slow pitch on a team named after a funeral home, with red jerseys, where I was the winning pitcher and team MVP (along with the coach's son). It was all downhill from there. I guess it mirrored my beloved Indians' travails. Always next year. Forever next year. Lots of promise, but always coming up short.
I have moved on, and survived, even thrived. I have a wife, two beautiful healthy kids, a place to live, a good job, friends. I wouldn't give it up for anything, not even a chance for a moment in the Big Show. (I do have an extra kidney or testicle floating around that I don't necessarily need. I'd give one of those up...well, maybe that's not such a good idea.)