CLEVELAND -- When the Cleveland organization released a statement that it was starting internal discussions to determine the best path forward in regards to its team nickname, “Indians,” ownership knew that it would require multiple conversations with many groups of people, including its own players.
On Tuesday, club chairman/CEO Paul Dolan met with president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, general manager Mike Chernoff, manager Terry Francona and all players to open a dialogue about the team’s name.
“There have been times over the course of my years here that I’ve been really proud of our team,” Francona said. “Back when we did the Larry Doby Fund was certainly right at the top. I’ll tell you what, today was pretty [darn] close for a number of reasons.
“The way the players expressed themselves in a mature and respectful manner and the way Paul listened and spoke back to the players, I was really, really happy and content to just sit there and let them talk back and forth. I think it’s one of the reasons that I speak so glowingly of our organization. Today was another reason why.”
Tuesday was not intended to be the day that the club came up with a resolution. There will be a number of discussions to determine what will be the right move for the team, starting with Dolan listening to the opinions of his own players.
“I don’t know that anything was actually resolved,” Francona said. “I don’t know if it needed to be. I just thought it was really good for the players to share their opinions and to let Paul be in the room and hear them and also share his opinions as an owner. I think sometimes perspectives can be different and it’s good for everybody to hear that, but I think everybody was so genuinely honest, but also respectful in the way they gave their opinions. I was really proud of everybody.”
The club has had a handful of team meetings over the past week to determine their health and safety code of conduct that it wants to follow during the season and to open the floor for all racial equality and social injustice conversations. But Tuesday's gathering was solely to focus on the team’s name, and Francona praised Dolan to the team for Dolan's effort in engaging in a face-to-face conversation.
“I told the players that today. I said, ‘This is part of why I’m so proud to be here is because these things don’t happen everywhere,’” Francona said. “And it’s not gonna mean that everybody is always gonna exactly agree or be on the same page. I don’t know that you’re supposed to be all the time. I mean, shoot, that’s just the way our world is. But when everybody listens with respect and talks with respect, I think we have a chance of moving forward, again, with respect. I think that’s what we’re trying to do.”