Perhaps baseball's biggest surprise in 2022 was the young Cleveland Guardians team making the playoffs and winning the American League Central. It was, indeed, a season of note in the franchise's long history as the youngest team in baseball won a division expected to be dominated by the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox in the spring.
But it was always going to be a memorable season and one the franchise would remember. In 2021, Cleveland decided to change its mascot and franchise name after decades of controversary. This year was the first year under that new name, the Guardians.
But they aren't the only team to have changed its name and branding this century without moving cities.
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In fact, the team the Guardians play in the American League Wild Card, the first postseason series as the Guardians, is that very team.
Here's the names to know in the Cleveland vs. Tampa Bay series.
Why did the Cleveland Guardians change their name?
For more than 100 years, the Major League Baseball team in Cleveland used Native American terms and logos. For the last few decades, the use of that name and imagery became a cloud hanging over the franchise as many in the sports world pushed the team to change their name and mascot.
Together, we are all... pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) July 23, 2021
What are the Cleveland Guardians named after?
The Guardians are named after the Art Deco statues on the Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field in Cleveland. The statues are known as the "Guardians of traffic."
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Why did the Tampa Bay Rays change their name?
It was a subtle change, but a change nonetheless. Founded in 1998, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays played under that moniker from 1998 to 2007.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were among the worst teams in baseball from 1998 to 2007. When Stuart Sternberg purchased the team after the 2007 season, he changed the name by removing the "devil."
Tampa Bay Devil Rays was never the name the team wanted
According to MLB.com, the franchise wanted to be the Tampa Bay Stingrays, but a winter league team in Hawaii already had the trademark, which lead to the "Devil Rays."
Some Tampa Bay fans hated the 'devil' in the name
Fans in Florida didn't like "devil" being apart of its name, even though it had nothing to do with the bible. After nearly a decade of pushing to remove it, Sternberg finally acquiesced to fans.
The Tampa Bay Rays logo and name actually has nothing to do with fish
The name change to "Rays" was actually meant to signify the state of Florida, the sunshine state, and rays of sunlight. It's why the sun appears in the current logo.
But when you have a fish tank in right centerfield, it's hard to hide from the origin. So the franchise still uses the devil ray image in some logos.
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Why did the Cleveland Guardians change their name? Tampa did too