Watching Boston at Cleveland for games 3 through 5 tested my patience in so many ways. Watching Cleveland beat Boston's brains out isn't fun for a Sox fan no matter where they're playing (though I'm grateful they pulled out a win and the series returns to Boston, regardless of the outcome of tonight's game). But adding insult to injury were Fox's presentation, the Cleveland mascot, and the most visible of Cleveland's fans (see above).
Start with Joe Buck. I've never had beef with him until this series. Maybe I'm the one who's biased, but it seems to me his commentary was one-sided -- as though Cleveland winning was inevitable and favorable and he just couldn't wait to get it over with. Is he bitter about the Sox sweeping the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series? Don't know, don't really care, but I certainly wouldn't call his commentary objective. Not to mention he and Tim McCarver kept getting Ortiz and Ramirez mixed up. They have some things in common, sure (both great Sox hitters of Dominican descent), but are they really that hard to keep straight?
The worst was when Buck, in game 3, went on and on about the Cleveland organization, which he characterized as "classy". Um... what?! Sorry -- any team with Chief Wahoo as its mascot could not be called classy. This seems like an incredibly obvious point but, if anything, that makes it all the more important to make.
I grabbed the picture above from King Kaufman's Sports Daily. (No point in rehashing the whole column, but I agree 100%.) His point is that this was posted, without comment, as the lead photo on the ESPN website. What he doesn't mention is how often Fox showed these jackasses (and many others, also offensively attired) during the game, also without comment. (On a side note, Cleveland fans, step away from the towel. Only Steelers fans can get away with it.)
I'm not singling out Cleveland. Boston, home of my Sox, has been guilty in the past. It's had Braves and Redskins franchises. (Unfortunately, though they're not in Boston, they live on in Atlanta and Washington.) The worst of all these mascots, in my opinion, was a college mascot -- Chief Illiniwek. Luckily, it's gone, though it took threatened sanctions from a governing body, the NCAA, to convince the University of Illinois to retire it.
That brings me to my point. Major League Baseball: Do the right thing. Obviously, Cleveland is not going to get rid of its racist mascot without strong incentives to do so, and that's what you must provide. In the short run, it might be painful -- to fans, possibly to the city itself -- but it's the right thing to do.