The Cleveland Indians will be able to use their name and logo in Canada during the ALCS. Just hours before Game 3 of the ALCS, Ontario Superior Court Justice Tom McEwen dismissed a case brought fourth by indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal that was meant to bar the Tribe from using their name and Chief Wahoo logo in Canada.
According to ABC News, 27 lawyers between the Indians, Major League Baseball, and the plaintiffs all attended the hearing. Judge McEwen dismissed the case, but did not yet give a reason — just that the ruling had to be quick, given the circumstances.
If you want an inside look at what was happening during the whole ordeal, I highly suggest the Twitter stream of Toronto Star reporter Azzura Lalani. She had just about everything covered from the hearing.
Jones: it is not necessary to meet the definition of hate speech - this is about promotion of offensive and racist names and logos 1/2— Azzura Lalani (@AzzuraLalani) October 17, 2016
Jones: experience of watching a baseball game w/ offensive logos can be expected to attack self respect and dignity of indigenous peoples— Azzura Lalani (@AzzuraLalani) October 17, 2016
While I completely agree that Wahoo needs to be removed sooner than later, Cardinal’s timing is a little... opportunistic? As it was pointed out during the hearing:
Lawyer: Mr Cardinal waited till the last possible moment. Friday evening after Rogers people went to Cleveland for games.— Azzura Lalani (@AzzuraLalani) October 17, 2016
Lawyer: Asks how Cardinal would be differently affected by a playoff game over the games played in the last 39 years between the two teams— Azzura Lalani (@AzzuraLalani) October 17, 2016
Lawyer: Harm to Mr Cardinal not clear how it's different from harm from other games over last 39 years— Azzura Lalani (@AzzuraLalani) October 17, 2016
In fact, Cardinal is not even in-country for the series, despite choosing the day the ALCS began to launch his case:
Lawyer: learned Mr. Cardinal is in China, a fact he did not disclose. He won't be in Canada for game. Rogers does not broadcast in China— Azzura Lalani (@AzzuraLalani) October 17, 2016
Prior to the hearing, the MLB released the following statement on the offensiveness of the Indians name and the Chief Wahoo logo and why they chose to defend it in court:
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.
That was not exactly a rousing defense, which isn’t surprising. MLB was defending the Indians’ right to use the logo, as they should, but their main reason for defending it, as it sounds in this statement, is to not interrupt the ALCS.
The name ‘Indians’ is light fare compared to a certain Washington team in the NFL, but Chief Wahoo is a logo that undoubtedly needs to go at some point. Pressure has been mounting on the Indians to do something about it for years. Prior to 2016 they finally announced they were moving the logo to a secondary role, behind the Block C. Despite this, Chief Wahoo still appears on their standard home hat and sleeve, their standard road sleeves, and their midnight blue alternates hats and sleeves.
As the Indians get closer to the World Series, more attention is being placed on the team and their controversial logo. Toronto Blue Jays announcers flat-out refuse to say the name ‘Indians.’ Even the club’s ex-president Mark Shapiro said the logo “troubling to [him] personally,” although he did not do much in his time in charge of the club attempting to remove, or even publicly denounce, the logo.
If the Indians can win two more games in the ALCS and advance to the World Series, all eyes will be on Cleveland, their name, and their logo. The national stage is not going to be kind to Chief Wahoo, a logo that has been with the Indians for nearly a half a century, but a logo that many believe is a deeply racist caricature of an already-mistreated race of people.
As Jason eloquently put it prior to the season, the Indians will make a swap when the calculus is right. But at this point, the longer Chief Wahoo sticks around, the worse it’s going to get for the team and the worse it’s going to get for fans embarrassed to root for a team that endorses Chief Wahoo as a logo. The Indians cannot just swap out their name and logo in the middle of a playoff run, but if they are still getting this kind of heat in the offseason it may be worth it just to rip the band-aid off and do it all at once.