After 105 years, Cleveland’s baseball team might be changing its identity.
In a July 4 press release, the Cleveland Indians confirmed they are prepared to discuss the possibility of changing their name. The announcement came just hours after Dan Snyder announced Washington’s NFL franchise is conducting a thorough review of the team’s name was underway after significant sponsors joined fans in demanding a change.
The Indians have also received their share of criticism over the years. In 2018, the team finally agreed to remove the Chief Wahoo logo — a Native American caricature that many felt was racist — from their uniforms and branding. Now though, the team may be ready to leave its identity since 1915 behind completely.
The possibility has received support from within the organization, including from manager Terry Francona. It has also been met with resistance from the outside, most notably from President Donald Trump. Above all else, it has restarted the conversation on whether it’s appropriate to use Native American names and symbols in connection. And it has given fans an avenue to creatively discuss which names might better fit Cleveland’s baseball team.
Let's hear it, baseball fans.— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) July 4, 2020
What would you change Cleveland's name to?
The discussion-turned-debate has produced several noteworthy suggestions. Today, we’ll examine some of the best.
As soon as word spread about a potential name change, nostalgic fans all pointed to one name — Cleveland Spiders. The Spiders were Cleveland’s original baseball team, launching as the Cleveland Forest Citys in the now defunct American Association in 1887 before moving to the National League and adopting the Spiders name in 1889. The team was disbanded following the 1899 season after finishing with a 20-134 record.
Although the Spiders did play in one World Series and even employed Cy Young, that dreadful final season is what baseball historians remember most. Bringing the Spiders back would allow Cleveland to rewrite the team’s history, and rebrand with a logo that most agree has enormous potential.
Between the history of having a former pro team in town with the name, the uniqueness, & great uni & logo concepts, I’m all-in on the Cleveland Spiders name change. pic.twitter.com/JfScDnCsEu— Dave Falvey (@Falvitus) July 5, 2020
Buckeyes is another name with historical significance in Cleveland. The Cleveland Buckeyes were members of the Negro American League from 1942-50. During their run, the Buckeyes played in two Negro World Series, winning the league championship in 1945.
Some have argued the Buckeyes name belongs to Ohio State University and that Cleveland would be best served to create its own new identity. Others believe there’s a legacy that deserves recognition and a potential rebirth. The Indians have honored that legacy before by wearing Buckeyes jerseys during regular season games. A permanent change would certainly feel fitting.
And yes, the Buckeyes also had fantastic uniforms.
I know it won’t happen cause of Ohio State but them honoring a team from the negro leauge would be cool, The Cleveland Buckeyes unis were sweet pic.twitter.com/Go9SVuCEz2— 🥵🥵Jeff🥵🥵 (@JXW727) July 4, 2020
Cleveland Wild Things
While history and nostalgia certainly have their place in this discussion, there is also room for lighter considerations. Hence, why some fans believe the team should be renamed after Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, the eccentric pitcher played by Charlie Sheen in the classic Major League film series.
The original film was based around Cleveland’s lowly franchise overcoming a tanking owner’s bid to move the team to Florida. It’s a fun story with a memorable cast of characters that 31 years later are linked to the team perhaps as much as any players who have actually worn Cleveland’s uniform.
Atop that list is the “Wild Thing.” Some might cool on that suggestion due to Sheen's checkered offscreen past. To that, we whole-heartedly understand. But the character itself is an undeniable part of Cleveland's cinematic and sports history. Not far behind is Pedro Cerrano’s voodoo figure “Jobu.” You know, we’d be here for the Jobus, too.
This one makes sense from a variety of angles.
First and foremost, Cleveland is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But Cleveland Rocks is also a well known song that served as the theme for the Cleveland-based “Drew Carey Show.”
Having a built-in theme song isn’t the worst thing from a marketing standpoint.
Some have also suggested the Cleveland Rockers or the Cleveland Sound to play off the city’s musical history. Others are dismissing anything related to rock or music because it might be too similar to the Colorado Rockies. We think there’s room for both if that’s the direction Cleveland wants to go.
This worked once before for Cleveland. Why not try it again?
During its early years, Cleveland went through a few name changes. The team was originally named the Bluebirds — or Blues — back in 1901, before changing to the Broncos and Naps.
The Naps name was short for Napoleon and was born from Nap Lajoie, a Hall of Fame infielder who played for the franchise from 1902 until 1914. If they could name the team after the franchise player a century ago, they could do the same with their current franchise player, shortstop Francisco Lindor. Who knows, maybe such a strong commitment could convince Lindor to sign an extension instead of testing free agency following the 2021 season.
Or maybe he’d think it’s crazy.
Either way, we think it deserves consideration.
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