Monday, February 18, 2013

The Curse of Cleveland

I have a friend from college who grew up in Philadelphia but has some old family ties to Cleveland. He seems to have retained an affinity for Cleveland’s version of major league baseball developed in the days of Larry Doby, Luke Easter, and Dave Pope, pioneer black professional athletes in the early days of baseball integration. 

Cleveland’s baseball and football teams were leaders back then in understanding that casting a wider talent net was good for business. Kids like me were unaware of the deeper social change that was going on but we knew it was cool that Bill Willis, Marion Motley, Pope and others lived in our neighborhood. We didn’t understand of course that they had no choice: every suburb in the county was closed to them as a potential residence. I was just glad to be able to say that I was Dave Pope’s paperboy.

Anyway, my Philly friend keeps bugging me out of his own childhood memories to update him on the Cleveland club’s 2013 prospects. The team has been awful the last several years but they have taken several steps to improve and with any luck should be at least in the middle of the pack [did you hear that, Sam?].

I’m like my Philly friend in a way. Baseball is something that was imprinted on me as a kid. It has to do with my personal and social history. I was a fan of Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella and Willie Mays before I knew what a Negro was. I played catch with my father during his rare free moments between work and work, or work and school [his, not mine]. And sometimes we went to games on languid summer days. Doubleheaders were especially great!

It’s hard for me to enjoy baseball in Cleveland these days. It’s not so much because the team is lousy; I can pick my spots. Last year for instance, I went to see Cleveland's Masterson duel Verlander on a scorching hot weekday. The Detroit ace was throwing 100 mph in the eighth inning. The homies scored the game’s only run on a first inning Shin-Soo Choo home run that landed not far from me. Great game!

The reason I visit Progressive Field infrequently is that damn butt-ugly racist mascot. It tweets a nonstop message to the world that we are a backwards, narrow-minded community. It’s a banner ad symbolizing our community's social intelligence, sort of on par with having a high school knucklehead like Jimmy Dimora at the helm of our government. 

It undermines the best efforts of Global Cleveland, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Case Western Reserve University, and our world-class medical community to project Cleveland as a progressive, forward-thinking community.

Baiju Shah, R. Steven Kestner, David Franklin, Barbara Snyder, Robert E. Rich Jr., Toby Cosgrove, Alfred M. Rankin, Jr., Monte Ahuja, Sam Miller: you guys run in the same circles as Larry Dolan. Please tell him that red-skinned, gap-toothed bigheaded Chief Wahoo brands us "City of Yahoos". He should be banned from your parking lots, windows, and employee attire. 

Consider it your contribution to improving our public mental health.


Mansfield said...

Wahoo must go if we are to move ahead

Richard said...

I am reminded that former State Rep. Peter Lawson Jones introduced a resolution calling upon the team to adopt a new logo. It went nowhere. Perhaps City Council would be a better place to start.