The Guardians are here and ready to start selling their merchandise, marking a new era of baseball in Cleveland, moving beyond the 73 years without winning a World Series, the decades of intransigence over Chief Wahoo, the...
That’s quite literally a bad sign.
As far as more figurative bad signs, the launch of Guardians merchandise does not include jerseys, according to Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan. Also, they’re still making money off the old name and Chief Wahoo, continuing to sell “select historic merchandise.”
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The Cleveland organization clearly does not really care about doing the right thing, just about maximizing its bottom line. Every piece of Wahoo gear should have long ago been sent out for fabric recycling. Instead, the message is clear: the Guardians are only the Guardians because the team felt it could no longer get away with its old name.
What they’re doing by selling the last of the Wahoo stuff is to cater to racists, the only people who will continue to embrace that disgusting red-faced caricature. Even just continuing to sell the merch with the old nickname sends a clear message: scoop it all up, keep wearing it to the ballpark, continue to be proud of the century-plus spent pretending as if there was some kind of honor in that name.
It’s not new. They’ve already made money selling retro, even more racist versions of Chief Wahoo swag. In 2019, I wrote, “If you’re really against it, why not just say in no uncertain terms that the logo is racist and there’s no place for it in civilized society, or even in professional baseball.” I also wrote, acknowledging the cynicism of it, that “what Cleveland ownership needs to realize here is that once you change the name of the team, everything with the old name instantly becomes vintage material, and can be sold at a markup.”
And here we are, at a place where Chief Wahoo and the rest of it can be said to represent “heritage” and “tradition.” And you’ll see it alongside other symbols of “heritage” and “tradition” like the Confederate flag. Same shit, different century.