The Curse of Wahoo strikes again


Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in the deciding seventh game of the World Series of baseball, an odd title for a contest in which the existence of only one Canadian team prevents the entire season from being an all-American affair. There had been hopes that the local baseball team would add to the national championship already won earlier in the year by the Cavaliers basketball team. In that case, Cleveland had fought back from a 3-1 deficit to win the last three games and the series but this time it was the reverse and the Indians blew a 3-1 lead. I think the reason is the Curse of Wahoo.

I am not a baseball fan and have made no secret of my distaste for the ghastly symbol of Chief Wahoo that the team is identified with. At one point in the recent past, the team seemed to be downplaying it and making it less prominent. But this year in the playoffs it was back with a vengeance, with the grotesque grinning red caricature prominently displayed on players’ caps and sleeves. Whenever I turned the TV on to get the score, I found the ubiquitous image so distasteful that I quickly turned it off again.

The baseball commissioner had said that he would be speaking to team owners about the Wahoo logo after the series ended but I do not expect anything to come of it. Many Indians fans seemed to have a deep attachment to what I see as a racist symbol, something that we should not be surprised about in a state that seems to have quite a liking for Donald Trump and his racist politics. The owners of the team will likely want to preserve their cash cow and not get rid of a symbol that so many fans seem to like and that adorns much of the merchandize sold. Professional sports franchises are, after all, primarily businesses.

So Wahoo will likely remain and the Curse of Wahoo will continue to haunt the team.

Of course, I do not believe in such silly superstitions. Jonathan Swift said, “You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place” so perhaps the converse is true and irrationality needs to combated with irrationality. Many players and fans are deeply superstitious and I am doing my bit to exploit that irrationality to undermine their irrational attachment to Wahoo by suggesting that a curse is associated with it.

Do your bit. Pass it along.

Comments

  1. flex says

    So now that Cleveland Indians have the longest number of seasons without winning a world series (68 seasons since 1948), you might get some traction.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    prevents the entire season from being an all-American affair.

    By America you apparently mean USA.
    Quite a number of the players are not born in the USA. Aroldis Chapman was born in Cuba, as just one example.

  3. says

    I’m always amused by how many American sports have “world champions”. Well, yes, I guess if you want to get technical they are the champions of all the world’s NFL or NBA teams.

    Oddly enough, I’ve never heard anyone describe the winning NHL team as World Champions, despite there being more than one Canadian team represented in the league.

    (And yes, I used “American” in my first paragraph to refer to “of the USA” because everyone knows what country is being referred to when someone says “American” and I refuse to capitulate to pedants on this matter.)

  4. mnb0 says

    The thing is, Tabby, that a similar argument applies to the NBA. Everybody knows that the team winning the NBA finals is the strongest team in the world and hence the World Champion. So when you are amused you do join the pedants on this particular matter.

  5. DonDueed says

    Reginal / Tabby: one justification for using “America” and “American to refer specifically to the United States is this: it’s the only country that has the word “America” in its official name.

    I really think racism is the main factor that keeps teams like Cleveland (and Washington in the NFL) from changing logos. Other teams have done exactly that, without vast amounts of fuss, when those logos were not racist symbols. So it can’t be just love of tradition behind that resistance.

    I can give one example: the NFL Patriots changed their logo from the old “Pat Patriot” (a football player in colonial garb) to the current “swoosh”. There were some fan objections at the time (and even now, to a small degree) but nothing like what you hear in Ohio or DC when the subject is broached.

    So to me it seems like the main objection is not the break with tradition. It’s that a lot of the fans of those teams really want to have a racist logo.

  6. says

    You might be interested in reading about the “Curse of Sockalexis” on Indian Country Today:

    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/10/31/curse-sockalexis-russell-means-cast-shadow-cleveland-indians

    Got pretty close: ” His curse specifically directs that the team make it to the seventh game of the World Series, with a 3-run lead, and lose on a walk-off grand slam home run on the very last pitch thrown. He wants the loss to be THAT excruciating for the city and its fans.”

  7. Holms says

    #4
    The thing is, Tabby, that a similar argument applies to the NBA. Everybody knows that the team winning the NBA finals is the strongest team in the world and hence the World Champion. So when you are amused you do join the pedants on this particular matter.

    The point is not about whether the team is good enough to be described as being world champions, the point is that no other single-nation competition that I have heard of has bothered to call the winner that. For example, there is an Australia-only sporting competition called the Australian Football League (AFL) involving a sport that is only professionally played in Australia (no, not the football you are thinking of). It would be quite reasonable to assume that the winner of that competition would be the best in the world by virtue of the fact that no other nation has bothered with that partciular sport, yet no one calls the winner of that competition the world champions.

    American competitions simply have a degree of hubris I at least have not seen elsewhere.

    #5 Don
    I really think racism is the main factor that keeps teams like Cleveland (and Washington in the NFL) from changing logos. Other teams have done exactly that, without vast amounts of fuss, when those logos were not racist symbols. So it can’t be just love of tradition behind that resistance.

    I suspect it is partly because the symbol is accused of being racist that people keep it – the statment ‘the team’s name and emblem are racist’ is taken as an accusation that every supporter of the team is racist. Indignation sets in, feathers are ruffled etc. and so many fans cling to it all the more.

  8. Trickster Goddess says

    The owners of the team will likely want to preserve their cash cow and not get rid of a symbol that so many fans seem to like and that adorns much of the merchandize sold.

    I would think that a business case could be made for changing a team’s logo every 5-10 years or so. That way fans would have to spend extra money to replace their jerseys and memorabilia, etc.

  9. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    Trickster Goddess #10
    Not only that.
    Your old discontinued crap are all now Collectables™.

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