Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says he plans to meet with Indians owner Paul Dolan
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says he plans to meet with Indians owner Paul Dolan after the best-of-seven championship concludes, which will be no later than Wednesday as Cleveland takes a 3-2 edge into game six Tuesday.
"I have talked to Mr. Dolan about this issue. We have agreed away from the World Series, at an appropriate time, we will have a conversation about this. I want to understand fully what his view is and we will go from there."
Manfred acknowledged the racism outcry over the Chief Wahoo logo from Native Americans, some of whom have protested outside the team's ballpark before World Series games.
"I know that particular logo is offensive to some people and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why," Manfred said.
"Logos are, however, primarily a local matter. The local club makes decisions about its logos. Fans get attached to logos. They become part of a team's history. So it's not easy as coming to the conclusion and realizing that the logo is offensive to some segment."
The Indians introduced a letter "C" logo in 2014 as its primary logo, reducing "Chief Wahoo" to a secondary logo. But the smiling face wearing a headband with a feather is featured on the team's World Series caps and a sleeve on team jerseys.
Manfred said the Indians' role in a high-profile World Series against the Cubs, who had not played in it since 1945 and have not won it since 1908, has drawn more attention to the issue.
"Obviously when a team is in the World Series, there is a spotlight on that team," Manfred said. "Everything about that team attracts more attention, and I think that's probably the case with respect to the logo issue."
A Canadian lawsuit last month sought to ban the Indians from displaying the logo or using uniforms with the team name before a playoff game in Toronto.
The Indians responded with a statement saying they were "focused on competing in the post-season" and would not comment more upon "matters that distract from our pursuit on the field."
A Major League Baseball statement regarding the lawsuit issue said that the league "appreciates the concerns of those that find the name and logo of the Cleveland Indians to be offensive" and that league officials "would welcome a thoughtful and inclusive dialogue to address these concerns outside the context of litigation."
But the statement added that because the games needed to be played "in a timely manner, Major League Baseball will defend Cleveland's right to use their name that has been in existence for more than 100 years."
Native American team names have become a greater issue on the US sports scene in recent years, notably the Indians and Atlanta Braves in baseball and the NFL's Washington Redskins, whose ability to trademark the name and logo remains an issue moving through the legal process.