Literally nobody inside the Liquor and Rubber Ball Sports Emporium and Artesian Boil Popping While-U-Wait wants to see President Shithole’s State of the Union crap, so Don Tequila, tending bar tonight, sets the flat screens to assorted other brane-sucking content while we loyal imbibers huddle close, tell lies, and bray laughter into one another’s faces.
I join Duck Diamonds at the bar. Although Duck gambles on sports for a living, his conversation at the moment isn’t the impending Superbowl, but the Cleveland Indians. Turns out his hatchet-faced drinking companion is a diehard Indians fan from Shaker Heights, and is beside herself over the announcement that the team will abandon Chief Wahoo, its mascot, after the 2018 season.
“Been a fan since Rocky Colavito signed a baseball for me in 1959,” she says proudly. “And he wore Chief Wahoo his whole career. We all had hats, shirts, coozies, bumper stickers, and everyone loved it. What’s the problem? This is political correctness gone nuts.”
Don counts among his charms and talents his ability to goad unsuspecting victims to violence and self destruction. “I hearya, love,” he says, in his reasonable work-with-me-here voice. “But how many actual Native Americans do you know that share your fond memories?”
“The same number I’ve met at ball games,” she retorts. “Zero. So they got no say. No skin in the game.”
Now there’s an unfortunate metaphor.
“I bet you didn’t know the team was actually named after an Indian. Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian from Maine, was this amazing outfielder for the National League Cleveland Spiders at the end of the 19th Century. The called him the ‘Deerfoot of the Diamond.’ The mascot isn’t an insult. It’s a goddam tribute.”
“Times change,” says Duck. “You’re not dancing for dollars on tables in dyke bars anymore, and Indians don’t like being depicted as packs of simple-minded grinning savages.”
“Oh, ferchrissake.” She’s practically spitting (and I can’t, just can’t imagine what she looked like dancing near-naked. I just hope the table legs were solid. Eerily, she reminds me of wrestler Dolph Ziggler, also from Cleveland. Must be the Cuyahoga water. Scary.) “Chief Wahoo is a savage? You have some serious snowflake issues, Duck. Lighten up, willya?”
“It’s part of growing up, old salt,” needles Duck. “And it’s not just the Indians. The Washington Redskins are under pressure – that name is just plain racist. The Braves. A whole bunch of college teams dumped the name Redmen.”
“Where’s this headed? I can see the Audubon Society demanding they change the names of the Seahawks, Blue Jays, Eagles, right? Stereotyping birds of prey! Our poor feathered friends! The Mighty Ducks!” She’s bellowing now, much to the delight of the entire bar. “’A duck could be somebody’s mother,’ like the old song says! Is White Sox reverse racism?”
“You go, girl!” somebody calls.
“It’s just the mascot,” Duck tells her. “They’re keeping the name. And the team will suck as bad as they have their whole lousy history no matter what they’re called or who their mascot is.” He glances up at a teevee over our heads. “Ten o’clock and the President is still yapping.”
That’s not the President, Duck. That’s a Mister Ed rerun.
“Yeah, I know – isn’t he the original Stable Genius?”
That costs him a round.