“Wahoo’s tail of tears”

Cleveland Frowns does not like the Cliff Lee trade, but it’s for bigger picture reasons, not necessarily because of the return realized by Mark Shapiro:

But it becomes harder and harder to care about how these trades pan out as it becomes easier and easier to be sure that any real star developed by the Tribe will be shipped out of town on or near a contract year . . . Competitive balance in baseball continues and will continue to get worse and worse . . . It’s a classic case of the rich getting richer. There’s simply no way to look at the data and conclude that payroll doesn’t make a significant difference in teams’ ability to compete.

An imbalance that corresponds to our growing indifference toward our Indians and the MLB as yet another scalp is dropped along Wahoo’s Trail of Tears. Albert, Manny, Thome, Bartolo, CC, and now Clifton Phifer Lee.

The guys at Cleveland Frowns and I have gone around and around on competitive balance issues before. And though I’d argue that the Lee trade isn’t a classic instance of “the rich getting richer” as Frowns puts it (there are lots of other things going on here), I’ll grant that it’s depressing to see so many stars go out the door.

But the fourth name on Frowns’ “trail of tears” is worth thinking about: Bartolo. As in Colon. As in the big money pitcher who shipped out several years ago amidst the gnashing of teeth and the renting of garments. Shipped out in exchange for . . . Cliff Lee, among others.

If I had to guess, I’d say that there’s no Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore or Brandon Phillips in the haul received from Philly, simply because that kind of talent doesn’t grow on trees. Also because, unlike that Expos team, Omar Minaya isn’t the Phillies’ GM. But still, it’s worth remembering that one can’t judge a trade like this by only looking at the star that went out the door. One must also consider the talent returned. And, in the case of a prospects deal, the talent returned may take a year or two to consider.


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APBA Guy
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APBA Guy
Cleveland will get lots of sympathy from us Oakland fans. Our list may be longer, but I doubt our stars were bigger than Cleveland’s: Giambi, Miggy, Hudson, Mulder, Zito, Haren, Harden… We try not to think about what our team would have been like last year, starting 44-29, if we’d kept Harden and Haren for the whole year. And as for the prospect return: 1) it takes several years to show a return 2) you must possess a bushel basket of prospects, since you can’t accurately predict who will turn into a major league regular. The talent is just the… Read more »
Jason B
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Jason B
I know we like our instant analysis and everyone enjoys making a snap judgments of trade winners and losers, but I would soooooooo much prefer waiting a year or two down the road to see how things play out.  Did the traded star continue performing at the expected level?  Did he help his acquiring team to a division title, pennant, or World Series title that they otherwise wouldn’t have won?  Did the traded prospects develop into something more than expected? Something less? Did they progress? Regress? It’s like we’re judging “War and Peace” on the opening couple of paragraphs, or… Read more »
Mike Eller
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Mike Eller
Jason, It probably is a good idea to wait a year or two to see how this trade plays out. Jason Knapp intrigues me and I think that Carlos Carrasco’s 5 ERA is a little misleading, even in Triple A. However, it seems to me that the problem at hand is the philosophy of the Indians. This the second year running we’ve given up. Only this year we give up 2009 (inevitable) AND 2010! As for Mark Shapiro. You’re telling me the Indians couldn’t compete with an aging White Sox team, a Twins team with major holes, and a Tigers… Read more »
Peter Campbell
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Peter Campbell
I really admired your recent Rickey Henderson post.  I know you’ve spoken to this in the past, and I know that many consider “Wahoo” to be inevitable/not that big of a deal, but the Chief Wahoo mascot is, incontrovertibly, a racist caricature, and the phrase “Wahoo’s trail of tears” promotes the same racist diminution of American Indian culture and history that the mascot itself does.  The connection is evident in the similar work performed by the mascot and the phrase: “Wahoo,” the mascot, represents and promotes a series of racist stereotypes and images of American Indians.  To call bad trades… Read more »
kyle s
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kyle s

it’s funny. get over it.

Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra
Peter—that phrase came from the post I was quoting (and related to the key pasage on which I was commenting). My use of it in the title was not meant to glorify it or anything; simply to draw people into the subject.  I probably wouldn’t choose to use it myself, but at the same time, I’m not going to censor someone else’s writing either. If you do a Google search for “ShysterBall” and “Chief Wahoo,” I think you’ll find that I am more than in agreement with you regarding his merits as a mascott. I’ve written on the topic many,… Read more »
MooseinOhio
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MooseinOhio

Peter – Valid points all.

Peter Campbell
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Peter Campbell
Craig, I should have been more clear about this in the beginning of my comment – I have read (not all, but a lot) of your writing on the subject, and (as I indicate in reference to your Rickey Henderson post), it is one of the reasons I appreciate your baseball commentary.  I admire you, and other baseball writers like Rob Neyer, for being so public with such an unpopular position.  My point is that I think that if you feel compelled to respond to an author’s use of racist speech/imagery/connotation in writing about Rickey Henderson, then the (unecessary) use… Read more »
kyle s
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kyle s

a grad student crusading for political correctness? shocking.

Motherscratcher
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Motherscratcher
Peter – I’m an Indians fan and I agree with your points.  I would gladly give up the Chief Whaoo mascot. I think that the difference here may be that Craig condemned the Rickey Henderson writing because the whole point of that story was based in racist sentiments.  The “Trail of Tears” line is an unfortuate desription used to describe a topic completely unrelated to racism at all, that being the state of the Indians ballclub. If Craig wanted to start this topic again, he could have, as he has numerous time in the past (which you already know).  But… Read more »
Pete
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Pete
It’s easy (and fashionable in Cleveland) to blame the spot the Indians are in, which forced this move, on: – the Dolans, for penny-pinching – the economics of baseball, where teams in small(ish) markets can’t pay market rates for proven stars – the economy in general In reality, the blame should lie almost solely at the feet of Shapiro. His regime’s complete inability to draft (or sign internationally) and develop stars is what really crippled this team. It’s what forced it to head into a season where it had delusions of contention, but starting pitching options that included Scott Lewis,… Read more »
Nick Whitman
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Nick Whitman

Mr. Campbell is spot-on.  That sort of casual racism is pretty horrifying to me.

Motherscratcher
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Motherscratcher

“Shapiro has a great track record when it comes to trades like this—let’s pray he knows what he’s doing here… “

This statement reflects the only thing keeping me sane (allegedly).  I’m absolutely certain that Shapiro knows way more about baseball then I, and most other people, will ever know.

It does, however, make me nervous to have guys like Keith Law call this a “heist”.  Not good times.

Jason B
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Jason B
As a Blue Jays fan, I will say be careful what you wish for—we can develop and keep long-term some players envisioned to be franchise cornerstones.  Sometimes that’s not all it’s cracked up to be (paging Vernon Wells), if you don’t have the depth of resources that allow you to easily cover those mistakes. I guess what I’m saying is…I’ll gladly trade our slightly greater ability to sign longer-term, higher-dollar deals, and instead work under tighter payroll constraints, if we can swap divisions. A fixed, semi-permanent ceiling of third place sets a franchise adrift in the sea of malaise, just… Read more »
dlreed52
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dlreed52

Thank you, Peter Campbell, for speaking out on the subject of racial stereotypes. 

I too appreciate Mr. Calcaterra’s writing and also the stand he’s taken against the odious Cleveland mascot in the past.  His work today was not one of his more thoughtful efforts.

Cleveland Frowns
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Cleveland Frowns
Mr. Campbell, dlreed52;  Your criticism of Mr. Calcaterra re: his use of “Wahoo’s Trail of Tears” is misplaced.  He was quoting me there, from Cleveland Frowns, where I write a lot about “The Curse of Chief Wahoo,” which is an idea that attributes Cleveland’s unprecedented sporting misery to karmic obligations resulting from the City’s clinging to the awful mascot.  Craig has written on our Curse piece before.  So when I write the phrase “Wahoo’s Trail of Tears,” in a post at Frowns, it serves to emphasize that the competitive imbalance in baseball, and the pain experienced by we Cleveland fans… Read more »
dlreed52
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dlreed52
Pete of the Cleveland Frowns— Although you addressed both Mr. Campbell and me, I’ll speak only for myself. I’m aware of Mr. Calcaterra’s laudable stance on the Chief Wahoo logo.  If I didn’t make that clear in my earlier post, let me do so now.  I also appreciate your view that it’s an awful mascot.  But I believe the diction being used is faulty and the excuse that he was quoting you is facile.  Whatever the intentions were—and I believe they were utterly without malice—the linking of a professional sports franchise’s shortcomings with a tragic episode in the systematic genocide… Read more »
Cleveland Frowns
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Cleveland Frowns
Dang, there are some excellent writers here.  Appreciate that.  Also really like the phrase that “the coaches used to say to the players . . . , “Have an idea out there.” And “Thoughtless”?  Not if viewed in the context of my writing about the Cleveland Indians at Frowns.  And probably the opposite.  Far from “trivializing” the Trail of Tears, I suppose we’re actually calling attention to its awfulness, and I’m not sure why it’s out of bounds to do so just because it happens to be relevant to a discussion about baseball. Perhaps I could see where you’re coming… Read more »
Cleveland Frowns
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Cleveland Frowns

*crickets*

dlreed52
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dlreed52

“Far from ‘trivializing’ the Trail of Tears, I suppose we’re actually calling attention to its awfulness”

Discussing this topic, even a person of good will, is like watching Julio Lugo going after a routine grounder: you know he’s never going to get it, but you keep hoping nevertheless….

<sigh>

Cleveland Frowns
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Cleveland Frowns

Oh, Coachie, you obviously just don’t get it.  You’re like Julio Lugo in this way.

(???)

Cleveland Frowns
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Cleveland Frowns

?

*crickets*

coachie ballgames
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coachie ballgames

Just wanted to defend Cleveland Frowns. A casual reading of frownie’s site will reveal that he is most ardently against Wahoo.
And his use of the phrase “wahoo’s trail of tears” could indeed imply that the team continues to experience bad times because of its continued use of such an offensive logo and character.

dlreed52
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dlreed52

The second sentence should read: “Discussing this topic, even with a person of good will, is like watching Julio Lugo going after a routine grounder: you know he’s never going to get it, but you keep hoping nevertheless….

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