Chapter 15 concludes — and also contains in its entirety — a grim period for Chief Wahoo and his charges: the fallow time between pennants, chapters 13 and 14 covering the 1954 season and the Indians’ 111 wins in boisterous fashion and then largely glossing over the ensuing sweep, perhaps framing “the Catch” in such a way as to highlight the publisher’s inclusiveness of diversity or however they put it now, without exploring too deeply how it was the first dagger-blow in a crushing defeat, because we have to be careful about whom we vilify.
The disappointments of ’94 — rife though the year had been with wacky adventures involving Grimsley in the ceiling — were swept away with the arrival of the new spring. Chief Wahoo, who was now a young woman for marketing purposes, felt hopeful, and also strong and independent, and also other feelings. She knew this would be a good season.
Cleveland was positively unstoppable for the length of the slightly-shortened schedule, but without being overbearing or otherwise sharing traits with traditional antagonists, tallying one hundred wins and securing the best record in all of baseball!
[Manny Ramirez’s contributions will probably be excised to avoid controversy — which is going to leave a lot of holes in the retelling of the events of ’97, too — but we can still say nice things about Baerga, Lofton, Thome, Mesa, Hershiser, etc. It’ll be enough to fill the space. Heck, we’ll probably end up giving short shrift to Eddie Murray, as is customary.]
Oh, but who should meet the Indians in the World Series but that very same foe from the early days: the Braves? Now native to Atlanta, the club sported a new logo, inanimate and rude, who would hardly converse with Chief Wahoo, and also was suggestive of violence in a bad way. As potent as the Indians were, they were overcome by the might of the Braves’ rotation, whom we here depict sympathetically as that is the prevailing sentiment. Chief Wahoo learned a lesson about pride, and matured a little.
The ’96 season will be visited later in flashbacks when we are demonizing the Yankees, and for now we leap to ’97. Cleveland struggled as they had not for two years, bravely emerging with the Central division crown as the only team above .500, and regaining their status as bold and scrappy underdogs.
There stood the Yankees, haughty and tall, but Chief Wahoo led her fellows in a deft surprise maneuver to defeat the gigantic opponent. There waited the Orioles, with the AL’s best record, but Chief Wahoo was clever and resourceful and Baltimore was denied, the logo being at that point a real-looking bird who mostly just chirped.
Who was that waiting in the Series? That is not our old enemy, the Braves, 101 victories and bloody hatchet in hand. Nay, that is some awful fish, unloved by the heavens and turned murderous and cruel in the darkness of this neglect. The Marlins’ logo flopped about with menace and malice, but Chief Wahoo was undaunted. Then from the shadows stepped a terrible shape, a beast of a man.
“I am the art-dealer Loria,” he sleazed, “And I am here to destroy your dreams.”
“That’s not possible,” protested Chief Wahoo, “You don’t own the Marlins yet; you haven’t even begun driving the Expos into oblivion!”
But Loria only laughed, “Fool girl, I have always been here. I ruin everything!” Then he attacked, cheating with lasers, and assaulting Wahoo’s senses with slimy and aggressive sexual advances. The Chief battled valiantly, and the Indians were close — so close . . . and then Mesa blew the Save, and that Error, and Edgar Rentería . . . and the Indians were banished to years of futility once again.