On Tuesday, Major League Baseball will host the 2019 All-Star Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. That the event is taking place less than eight months after Cleveland phased out Chief Wahoo from its uniforms has fueled a theory suggesting the two things are connected as part of a trade-off between the Cleveland franchise and commissioner Rob Manfred.
Manfred addressed the theory on Tuesday and attempted to dismiss it. Sort of, anyway. Here’s part of what he said, according to the Associated Press:
“The All-Star Game was awarded to Cleveland by Commissioner (Bud) Selig before I even had one conversation about Chief Wahoo,” Manfred said. “You can write that as fact.”
We’re not into legitimizing conspiracy theories, but this denial is going to spur more conjecture.
Consider that Manfred took office in January 2015, about two years before Cleveland was announced as the host. It’s totally reasonable to think Bud Selig had decreed Cleveland would do the honors before Manfred came into power. It’s also totally reasonable to think MLB — be it Selig or Manfred, his successor-in-waiting — pressured Cleveland to ditch Chief Wahoo.
Heck, Manfred has admitted MLB was a “driving force” behind the decision in the distant past that was … uh, Monday afternoon:
Manfred can say the All-Star Game wasn’t traded for Wahoo’s disappearance, and that’s likely true. There probably wasn’t an official transaction or a league-call to announce the deal. But that doesn’t mean there was never an understanding, or an implication that one begets the other.
We’re going to stop before we find a tinfoil hat that fits, but no matter the inspiration let’s just agree that whatever caused Cleveland to get rid of Chief Wahoo was a welcomed force.