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Bid to ban Chief Wahoo logo fails

David Briggs • Oct 18, 2016 at 7:00 PM

TORONTO — Chief Wahoo is free to cross the border.

Hours before the Indians played the Blue Jays in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday, a Toronto judge denied an attempt to make their mascot persona non grata at the Rogers Centre.

Arguing the controversial logo is a violation of Ontario’s human rights code, indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal sought an injunction that would have prevented the Indians from wearing their Chief Wahoo emblem — which appears on the sleeves of their road jerseys — and the announcers of the Canadian game broadcast from mentioning the Indians’ team name.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Tom McEwen said he would cite his reasons for dismissing the request at a later date.

“We would welcome a thoughtful and inclusive dialogue to address these concerns outside the context of litigation,” Major League Baseball said in a statement. “Given the demands for completing the League Championship Series in a timely manner, MLB will defend Cleveland’s right to use their name that has been in existence for more than 100 years.”

The Indians’ buck-toothed, red-faced mascot has been a source of contention for years. While the Chief Wahoo logo still strikes a sentimental chord with many long-time fans, others contend it is an offensive stereotype of Native Americans, including the small group of protesters who can regularly be spotted outside Progressive Field.

The Indians have steadily phased out Chief Wahoo, dropping the logo from its road cap in 2011 and its home batting helmet in 2013. It remains on the club’s primary home hat, but was replaced this spring by the Block C as the club’s official main logo.

Former Indians president Mark Shapiro, now in the same role in Toronto, said last week the logo was “troubling to me personally.”

OPTIONS OPEN: A week ago, Indians rookie Ryan Merritt was pitching in the Arizona Instructional League.

The stakes might be a shade higher this week.

Manager Terry Francona said the 24-year-old right-hander — a late addition to the Indians’ ALCS roster who has four career big league appearances — would start either Game 4 or a potential Game 5, depending on how Trevor Bauer’s stitched-up pinkie fared Monday night.

Corey Kluber would start Game 4 on short rest if Bauer had a “malfunction” and had to leave his start early, thus forcing Cleveland to ride its bullpen.

When that malfunction came in the first inning — and Bauer was forced out of the game with blood gushing from his finger — we likely got our answer.

Francona originally planned to start rookie Mike Clevinger today and use his bullpen extensively. But he decided Merritt could give the Indians more innings.

Merritt went 11-8 with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts at Triple-A Columbus this season. In his only major league start, he held the Royals to one run on three hits over five innings in a 7-2 win on Sept. 30.

Merritt would be the youngest Indians pitcher to start a playoff game since 22-year-old Jaret Wright started Game 1 of the 1998 ALCS.

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

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