The Best and Worst Uniforms of All Time: The Cleveland Indians
The Best: Let’s be clear about something: I despise Chief Wahoo. I despise him with the intensity of a thousand burning suns. He’s racist. He’s stupid. And anyone who defends him as “part of the team’s culture and history” should defend this, this and this and argue in favor of their continued use or else they should just shut the hell up about it. If I ran that team I’d scrub Wahoo out of all current merchandise and marketing materials faster than you can sing a medley of “Kaw-Liga” and “Running Bear.” For now, however, I’m just rating uniforms, so the best I can do is to eschew every single uni that included Wahoo in some way. That takes out the bulk of the past 60 years and -- until they get rid of the lone, small Wahoo on the sleeve -- keeps me from picking their home alternates as the best, even if they look great otherwise. Non-Wahoo division: I love the the 1921 ‘World’s Champions” look just like I loved it when the Giants did it back in the aughts. More practically speaking, I liked the early 40s ensemble.
The Worst: Obviously anything with Wahoo. Let’s go with these as the worst, because from what I can tell it’s the largest Wahoo the Indians ever used. Non-Wahoo category: the all-red 1975-76 ensemble would have been terrible even if Boog Powell had never joined the team.
Assessment: Every time I bring Wahoo up, the conversation takes on the same pattern, so let me at least try to preempt a few comments: I don’t have a problem with “Indians” as a team nickname. People feel differently about that, I realize, but I think of it as harmless. As far as names go, only “Redskins” is bad in my view, inasmuch as it is an epithet in and of itself. “Indians,” “Braves,” “Blackhawks” and the like are not problematic as far as I’m concerned, inasmuch they’re not demeaning a people with racist caricature or stereotype. Sure, you may need to be more careful about how you use the trappings of the nickname in such instances -- no white boys in war paint going “woo woo woo!” and no Tomahawk Chop -- but the name itself doesn’t strike me as problematic.
If you wish to take issue with me on that, please first tell me where you stand on the Wahoo issue. Because I’m willing to be persuaded on the names thing by people who are reasonable. If, on the other hand, you can’t acknowledge that a red-faced, big-toothed, hook-nosed Indian is offensive, and you are simply taking me to task on the “Indians” thing as a means of showing me to be a hypocrite, then no, I won’t listen to you or respond to you. In such an instance I am merely drawing an arguable line. You, on the other hand, are being either schizophrenic (“Chief Wahoo is OK, but ‘Indians’ is not!”) or else you’re just being cute. The image is a zillion times worse than the name and you know it.
Bet you weren’t expecting a rant like that in a uniforms post.