Friday, September 19, 2008

Hello Cleveland!

Are these condiments racist?

More on that in a moment.

Today began at Pierogies Plus, a converted gas station in suburban Pittsburgh, where I got a dozen of the potato-and-cheese, swimming in melted butter and covered in diced onions. Tasty, though not amazing. The place had Billy Graham brochures by the register, and a bible passage was printed on my receipt.

Next up was Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Though four former Seahawks are enshrined, Steve Largent is the only 'baller primarily identified with the 'Hawks; the others gained fame elsewhere before hobbling through the Kingdome shortly before retirement. Still, the HoF has 2005 MVP Shawn Alexander's full rig on display... Elsewhere, a case dedicated to Super Bowl entertainment includes Paul Stanley's bass from Kiss's performance in '99; excluded is any reference to Up with People. Lots of patriotic overtones, with a special Pat "Friendly Fire" Tillman memorial. Conspicuously absent from the large non-NFL pro league display is the XFL, and its most famous player, He Hate Me. Biggest revelation: I'd never heard of the Baltimore Colts' ancestor, the 1946 Miami Seahawks.

Hello Cleveland, and Jacobs Progressive Field. I didn't see the left field drummer guy, and I didn't know of any signature ballpark food to seek out. However, there were unusually long-ass lines for the nachos, which look like the same crap I've seen at every other ballpark, movie theater, and carnival. I passed.

Random notes: the circa-1994 stadium feels slightly dated in this post-Camden era -- it could use a light facelift, updating the weesh signage and cheesy banners and whatnot... I shunned my free promotional Asdrubal Cabrera bobblehead, but enjoyed the postgame fireworks, choreographed with a medley of '80s hits... There was a fight! After getting plunked by Fausto Carmona, Gary Sheffield menacingly strolled to first, wielding his bat the whole way. Then, after a pickoff move, Sheffield stormed the mound, and the benches cleared... Seattle-born, Everett-raised Grady Sizemore dinged a dinger... Cleveland has the only ladies-specific souvenir shop I've seen, Tribe Pride: For Her...

Chief Wahoo is everywhere, including the mayonnaise dispensers. I appreciate his retro, we-didn't-know-any-better-at-the-time appeal, but today he just seems obnoxious, and when you get right down to it, offensive. Seriously, no outfit could pull off introducing such a cringe-inducing caricature today -- he's apparently grandfathered in as racially acceptable. And yet, I have to admit, I'm tempted to buy a cap with his goofy redskinned likeness, but I won't.

A proposed alternative: rebrand the team the Cleveland Spiders -- a killer name with historical precedence. Of course, their mascot would be Spider-Man -- far better than Slider, the Indians' shitty pink mascot, whose all-around awfulness is nearly as offensive as Chief Wahoo. There's just one hitch: Spidey's a Mets fan.

For the record, the Tribe prevailed, 6-5. Thus far on my rust belt road trip, the home teams have gone 4-0.

Tomorrow I'm gonna see this (NFSW!).

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