Rooting for Laundry

This reflection was originally posted on November 2, 2016, shortly before Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. My ultimate donation, given Kluber’s general goose egg and Baez’s improved plate discipline, was only $113. 

So every once in a while, people find out I’m an Indians fan, and I get the response: “How does it feel to root for a racist team?” And while this shorthand may be overly reductive, it’s not unreasonable, and my answer is typically along the lines of “Not so great.”

But every time this has happened, the conversation ends there. They don’t expect me to abandon my team (and inertia/general sports conduct strongly discourages me from doing so even if I didn’t have a lifelong connection to the team and the deeper narrative behind its struggles). They also don’t expect me to do anything more than voice my displeasure about it. I’m absolved, right?

Over the past month, I’ve read five or six articles about Cubs fans donating to domestic violence charities every time Aroldis Chapman gets a save to try to balance their fandom with Chapman’s history. My reaction has been “that’s great, I wish more people would think about this and do things like that”. When you root for laundry rather than players, it’s virtually unavoidable that somebody you have reason not to like will be wearing that laundry.

And then it hit me yesterday, amidst the slow burn of Standing Rock news: Given how poorly the NA community has been treated in this country (which I hope you take as a given), isn’t it the laundry itself that I’m rooting for the problem? (It is, after all, literally the laundry.) And thus, isn’t this the least that I, as a fan of the only Big 4 team that uses an unmitigated racial caricature as part of its branding, can do to actively show that I do not agree with the logo?

Therefore, I will be donating the following amounts of money to the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund based on how tonight’s game goes:

$1 for every season Cleveland has used Chief Wahoo as a mascot (1947 to 2016 = $70)
$2 for every postseason game Cleveland has gone against its word to “de-emphasize” the logo this year and worn a uniform that heavily features it (14 out of 15 games = $28)
$3 for every strikeout by a Cleveland pitcher tonight (Kluber is on the mound, and in his previous two starts, the Cubs struck out 15 and 8 times respectively)
$4 for every clear ball Javier Baez swings at (Fangraphs has estimated 3-4 per game)
$19.20 if Cleveland executes a triple play
$19.48 if the announcers discuss Eddie Robinson in a positive manner. Robinson is the only living member of the 1948 team and subject of multiple stories indicating that he strongly opposed playing on the same team as Larry Doby, the first Black player in the AL whose first season was with Cleveland in 1947. Robinson was invited to Game 6 and the only discussion Buck and Smoltz had about him was how he looked good for a 95 year old.
$19.54 if a Cleveland center fielder makes a spectacular catch
$19.97 if a Cleveland pitcher collects a save
$20.16 if Cleveland wins
In dollars, the jersey number of any Cleveland player who walks off the win (ranges from $1 for Michael Martinez to $55 for Roberto Perez.

Perhaps the most telling thing is that I don’t envision having problems turning this into a semi-regular push to donate because I expect that there will be plenty of places where the NA community can use my money. In fact, I bet that Standing Rock is not the only place RIGHT NOW where donations can go a long way toward fighting similar oppression, and if anybody lets me know of such situations, I’d be happy to split my donation as well. (I don’t make enough money to double it up right now, unfortunately.)

Cleveland against the world, for better or for worse, reaches its apex tonight. Don’t forget the Native Americans against the world who don’t have that luxury.

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