Do Better, Indians (No, That's Not Better)
by Drew Pelto, AKA *censored*

Three and a half years ago, I wrote an article in favor of removing the Chief Wahoo logo from the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe had announced the 2018 season would be their final usage of it, but also said at the time the Indians name would remain.

And now, today, the name is officially gone along with it. I get it; and once again, I don't mind it. As my previous article said, I'm going to support the Cleveland baseballers no matter what their name is. If you're freaking out over the name change then it makes me wonder how big a fan you were to begin with. Did you boycott Pepsi when they changed to blue cans in 1997? Did you lose it when the Washington Bullets became the Washington Wizards? If not, then why freak out over this one?

But at the same time, the Guardians' name and logo are just... bland.

I like the fact that they made a nod toward Cleveland history with the name. But the Art Deco bridge it's named for is a bit of Cleveland minutiae to which even the most die-hard local might not get the reference. I lived in Northeast Ohio on and off from 1985 to 2005. The first time I ever drove over that bridge? 2014, almost a decade after I left-- and only because I took a wrong turn trying to pick up I-71 leaving Downtown while very tired at about 1 am.

Even if the name is kind of boring, the logos are just bad. If your name is Art Deco inspired, use some Art Deco imagery. The wings on the baseball look out of place. The text is the same as the current script, just with the first two letters removed and five new ones stuck on. Hmm, maybe that's why they did it: Dolan was too cheap to pay for a new name and he could just recycle pieces of the old one.

If I made a depth chart of names I liked, it would go something like this.

1: Cleveland Cyclones. Why was this not pitched (no pun intended) by more people? First off, you get alliteration: though two different C sounds, the block C can mean either the city or the team. Second, Cyclones are scary: ever been in one? I've only been near one and that's more than enough. Third, it has history related to Cleveland baseball as there was once a pitcher for the old Cleveland Spiders known as the Cyclone before it was deemed too long as a nickname. He was pretty good too, he has an award named after him, but you'd know him better as Denton True "Cy" Young. Because, wouldn't you want a pitching staff composed of Cy clones? It references a former player while also not being as sleepy sounding as the old Cleveland Naps moniker. Cleveland Cyclones. This was a massive missed opportunity.

2: Cleveland (something that actually honors Louis Sockalexis). Let's forget about the trite story of how some little girl said they should honor the great Native player. There is no evidence of that ever having happened. Sockalexis was largely forgotten within a few years of his career ending. You can find very few references made to him from then until well into the 1940s. No matter how hard people want to cling to the story, there is no evidence from the time of the name's adoption that mentions Sockalexis: American society at large was still trying to force Natives to be more white. The name was not adopted to honor him; if anything, uses of it even in his day as an informal reference to the club were disrespectful and based around the idea of Natives as savages. So to claim the name was created to actually honor him, put your money where your mouth in: meet with the Penobscot tribe of which Sockalexis was a part. Meet with the Erie tribe who once inhabited the lands of Northeast Ohio. Ask how they can be accurately depicted and honored. Find a name that comes from a word of their language. You could keep the theme while being respectful, much in the same way that Florida State University regularly meets with Seminole leaders. But that would require a significant degree of humility from team ownership.

3: Cleveland Blues. Cleveland baseball clubs went by the Blues moniker from 1879-1884, 1887-1888, and 1901. Blues played nto the creation of Rhythm & Blues, which Leo Mintz renamed Rock and Roll at his Cleveland-area Record Rendezvous stores (before a corrupt glory-hog disc jockey took all the credit). The city has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a case could be made that the electric eels were the very first punk band-- and they hailed from Cleveland. It's something musical to point out the city's mark on it, while also keeping to a baseball tradition. Of course the MLB's Toronto Blue Jays and the NHL's St. Louis Blues may want a word with team ownership about this.

4: Cleveland Buckeyes. Surprising winners of the 1945 Negro League World Series, upsetting a Homestead Grays squad that had won back -to-back World Series and featured future Hall of Famers Jud Wilson, Ray Brown, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, and Cool Papa Bell. It's the state tree and the state candy (even if it started our as nothing more than an accidentlly-deformed peanut butter ball). The name for a baseball team actually predates The Ohio State University adopting it for sports-- which it did in 1950. But that still could be a point of legal contention.

5: Cleveland Generals. Okay, hear me out. I heard calls for the Naps name to be resurrected, which I didn't like. Sure, it would reference a former leader much like the Browns reference Paul Brown because before the Indians, they were the Naps, named for future Hall of Fame player-manager Napoleon Lajoie. But as I said above, Naps sounds like they're going to lie down for a rest. So, how about another Napoleon? Napoleon Bonaparte was a famous French general. Cleveland Naps, to Cleveland Napoleons, to Cleveland Bonapartes, to Cleveland Generals. Yeah, not even the girl at the Dairy Queen counter has grasped at this many straws. Never mind, move on.

6-Pentultimate: Anything else, Guardians included, except...

Last: Cleveland Spiders. Look, I actually like the Spiders name. It's different, and spiders have a sneakiness about them which is perfect for a sport rife with cheating. It clearly has loads of history in Cleveland baseball as the name from 1889 to 1899. They had six Hall of Famers. But the 1899 squad is enough to ruin the name for me. That year, the team's owners also bought the St. Louis Perfectos (now Cardinals, no relation to Mr. Telles) and in an epic conflict of interest took all of Cleveland's top players, shipped them to St. Louis for the Perfectos' worst, and treated the Spiders like a sideshow. They finished 35 games out of 11th place in the 12-team National League with a 20-134 record. Teams refused to play in Cleveland due to the dismal crowds. The pitcher for their final game was 18-year-old Eddie Kolb, a counter boy at a cigar shop in the Cincinnati hotel where the Spiders stayed. The kid told the manager he would give him a box of cigars if he could pitch the final game of the season. He went on to allow 19 runs (9 earned) on 18 hits across eight innings, with five walks, and one strikeout. He somehow got a hit as well in their 19-3 loss. The identity of the hapless Cincinnati Red who struck out is not known.

Hmm, Cleveland Kolbs? Okay, that one might be worse.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Drew Pelto, a lifelong Cleveland sports fan after living there for 10 years, lives in Texas with his wife and two cats. If you are considering trashing all your Cleveland cards, apparel, and other items in protest of the name change, he humbly asks that you mail them to him instead.