Overdoing it with Braves, Indians and Redskins

Mike Royko

October 23, 1991|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

I CAN SEE YOU got the shakes real bad," Slats Grobnik said. "And red eyes and the sweats. The whole works. You're a real wreck."

Yes, I've had better days.

"Goin' through controversy withdrawal again, huh?"

That's it.

"Yeah, I figured. All those weeks of Judge Thomas and Professor Hill and the goofy senators and the blacks being mad and the women being mad and everybody in the country being on one side or the other. Now, bam, it's all over. Now you're coming down. Controversy withdrawal. And you got to go cold turkey."

If only I could control the twitching.

"You know what you need to calm the nerves? A hair of the dog that bit ya. A stiff belt of controversy."

Sure, but the party's over. There's nothing left but the dregs, some dull pontificating about heightened sensitivity.

"Yeah, but there's other stuff. It ain't got the same 86-proof jolt, but it would help you come down off your high."

Such as?

"Well, what about the Indians? They might not send you on a controversy bender, but you ought to be able to get a decent buzz on."

The Indians? I haven't been paying attention. Are they irate about something?

"Oh, yeah. Lots of them are mad because the Atlanta Braves fans have been doing 'the chop.' They swing little toy tommyhawks and make noise like they're on the warpath. And some of them wear those hairpieces with feathers. The real Indians say this is an insult and a stereotype. And they say that the only time real Indians wear those hairpieces with feathers is on a few solemn occasions. And a ballgame in Atlanta, with Jane Fonda in the front row swinging a tommyhawk, ain't one of these solemn occasions."

I can see their point. They have long objected to Native Americans being used as the symbols of sports teams such as the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Braves.

"Right. And when you think about it, that don't make sense. There can't be many Indians living in Cleveland. If they were, they'd bust out of Cleveland and fight their way to a reservation. And the only guy I see in Washington with red skin is Ted Kennedy after he had a bad night. Or a good one."

That's true. And it must be painful to the Native Americans when, year after year, they hear fans say that the Indians stink. Or that the Braves were pathetic.

"You got it. I mean, why should teams be named after Indians anyhow? If we want to be fair about it, teams should be named after the biggest ethnic groups in the cities they represent."

Such as?

"Like New York. They got a big Jewish population, and Italian and Irish, right? So instead of the New York Mets, they could be called the New York Rabbis. And maybe the Yankees could be the New York Paizanos."

I don't know about that. Some people might be offended if they saw a headline that said: "Cubs Crush Rabbis."

"Sure, but they wouldn't be the Cubs. What's the biggest ethnic group in the Chicago area?"

We have the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw.

"Right. So the Cubs become the Chicago Poles. Think about that. When the fans got pumped up, they could all start dancing the polka. That's better than a wave. And they could sing it too. Maybe that one I like, the 'I Got a Girlfriend, Her Name is Mable Polka.' See, Mable rhymes with table, so you can put in dirty lyrics. Or instead of Mable, 'I Got a Girlfriend, Her Name is Nelly,' and Nelly rhymes with belly, so that one can get wild, too."

No, I think those songs have a potential for trouble. And I would be apprehensive about a headline that says: "Poles Stomp Rabbis."

"Yeah, you might be right. OK, then instead of the Rabbis, they could be called the New York Bagels. Then the headline could say: 'Poles Chew Up Bagels.' "

That could be acceptable, I suppose, but it still doesn't resolve the grievances of the Native Americans.

"Sure it does. Atlanta has a big African-American population, right? So they'd become the Atlanta Africans."

Yes, but then you could have headlines saying: "Africans Bite Bagels." That would be bizarre.

"Not if the Bagels won. Then it would be 'Bagels Conk Africans.' That would be even more bizarre. I think your idea might be too controversial. What if we wound up with a season in which Atlanta and Chicago were in the final game of the playoffs. You know what the headline would say?

"Yeah. 'Showdown between Africans and Poles.' Sounds exciting to me."

I think this has the potential for creating ill feelings.

"So? How do you think those Native Americans feel when they see a story that says: 'Yankees crush Indians'? No wonder they're mad."

You have a point.

"Sure. So we can rename all the teams that way. Figure out what the biggest group is in a city."

OK, which city is next?

"How about San Francisco?"

I think I've had my controversy fix, thank you.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.