Goodbye Indians-Hello Guardians

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My favorite Major League baseball team abruptly announced its name change on Friday. While we all knew the change was coming in 2022, the statement nevertheless came as a bit of a shock, to be honest. The team of my youth, the team I’ve lived and died with, will now be called: The Cleveland Guardians.

Bye-bye, Cleveland Indians.

After the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced in July of 2020 that the racist and divisive team name was going to change, Cleveland baseball team officials announced they were strongly considering doing the same. I wrote a post in this space supportive of both endeavors. I spoke of how hard it would be to let the name go but knew that the times we’re now living in made the action necessary.

More than anything else, money and corporate sponsorships are what ultimately made the decision a must-do for the organization. While the team finally did away with its racist logo and mascot, Chief Wahoo, in 2018, it became readily apparent by last year, the team name had to go as well.

This, of course, did not sit well with many in the fan base. Why the hell should the name be changed too? What’s so offensive about ‘Indians?’ It’s all about so-called ‘cancel culture,’ as the right-wing so often likes to remind us.

But the fact is, Chief Wahoo and the Indians team name are inexorably linked forever. Thus, for the team to continue to exist far into the future without protests and pressure from the corporate world, they needed a complete redo. Friday’s announcement brought that to fruition.

From what I heard on sports talk radio and social media, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Long-time fans were upset at the new name and complained about the cancel-culture mentioned above, with some even going as far as to say they were done with the team for good.

Even those who finally accepted the team’s decision to change the name absolutely decried the new name. The Guardians? Really? Couldn’t they come up with anything better than that? And to be honest, when I first heard the new name, that was my first reaction.

But 24 hours later, after listening to the team’s reasoning for the new name and reading some of the local journalists‘ take on it, I’m beginning to warm to The Guardians. It actually makes sense.

The name itself refers to the “Guardians of traffic” sculptures, built in 1932, that adorn the Bob Hope Memorial Bridge, which directs drivers around the facade of Progressive Field, which is where the team plays its home games. Funny, I’d been on that bridge before, and not once did I even notice the sculptures. But then I saw a photo yesterday with the bridge leading to the stadium, and I began to change my tune.

When the team was considering a new name, they asked fans and civic leaders what they thought about when they hear the word “Cleveland.” “We heard things like loyalty, pride, and resiliency in being from Cleveland,” said team president of business operations Brian Barren. “They’re protective of our city. They’re protective of the land and everything about it. Those all became part of what Guardians really started to evoke from an emotional standpoint.”

Pride. Loyalty. Resiliency. Protective. These are the words the team emphasized when coming up with the name. Again, it makes sense. You see, Cleveland really has been the butt of jokes over the years. “The mistake on the lake” was always something I heard growing up. I remember the Cuyahoga River catching on fire in the late 1960s. Entering the city from the South, 35 miles from Akron, my hometown, you couldn’t help but notice the enormous plumes of smoke coming from the steel plants as you entered the city. I mean, it really was a dump in many ways.

But we always had our sports teams. Nobody could take those from us, and even after years of futility and failure on the field, you’d always feel pride in rooting for all the professional teams. Even after moving away from Northeast Ohio as I did in 2004, that pride, loyalty, resiliency, and protective feeling never went away.

Yes, saying goodbye to the Indians was tough from an emotional standpoint. Those years in the late 60s and early 70s, as a young kid, heading up I77 North with my best friend and older brother to see the Indians clash with their team, the Chicago White Sox, are memories I’ll never forget. The cavernous Municipal Stadium awaited us – as did the hot dogs and pretzels. They were the Indians. They were The Tribe, as so many came to call the team.

But that era in time is now coming to a close – full stop. Things change. People change. Attitudes change. Many of my friends on the more conservative end of the spectrum are put off by these changes. Admittedly, most of them are white, male, and tend to skew a bit older.

The idea that sports reside so often at the intersection of politics, society, and culture doesn’t resonate with a lot of these folks. The quote from right-wing talk show host Laura Ingraham sums it all up: “Just shut up and dribble.” Yeah, that’s what she said about Lebron James a few years ago. And many of these same people who can’t accept the team name change feel precisely the same way.

I get a sense, though, that we’re entering a new phase in American society. While still indeed a vocal and opinionated group, the mostly older folks are slowly but surely drifting away. Their voices will still be heard. After all, with social media and the like, everyone can weigh in on touchy subjects, and that’s not going to change.

But to my conservative friends out there, and even those who are more moderate or even apolitical, who simply can’t deal with the new name, I’d ask that they at least give it a chance. If like me, you still love the baseball team in Cleveland, I suspect you will find a way to accept the Cleveland Guardians. You do not have to forget all the memories of what used to be. You simply should cherish them and move on.

And by the way, the new logo for the team, which replaces the aforementioned racist Chief Wahoo, isn’t too bad either. It features a baseball with wings – taken from the ones depicted on the bridge sculpture, and a script ‘G.’ That, as well, is growing on me.

Many will continue to criticize team officials with their choice of the new name and the timing of the announcement itself. But when you dig a bit deeper, you get a sense that they put forth an honest effort to move forward the best way possible. Finding a name that fans could eventually accept was never going to be easy. After all, the Indians have been the Indians, since 1915. It’s tough saying goodbye to that history.

But with The Guardians, I think they may have succeeded in that endeavor. Hopefully, in a few years, Chief Wahoo, The Indians, and The Tribe will fade into nothing more than some fond memories – replaced by something Northeast Ohioans can honestly say belongs to them.

Remember these words: pride, loyalty, resilience, protective. It really does describe the people of Northeast Ohio. Let’s give The Guardians a chance. That’s all we can ask.

21 comments

  1. Although I’m a National league fan, my wife is from Cleveland. Her reaction, when I told her about the name change, was basicly a yawn (perhaps I shouldn’t have told her just before bedtime). My reaction was pretty much the same as yours. Play baseball!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Well said, my friend. Change is often hard, especially as we get … um … older. But this was overdue … just like removing Confederate statues from public property, it’s past time to put symbols that reflect racism to bed so that we can move on. I rather like the new logo … it has energy!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks Jill, and for the reblog of course!
      Me too Jill. I like it as well. Those on the other side will bitch and moan about it, including a quotes I saw from the disgraced former guy and the clown Jim Jordan. My take? I could give a flying you know what, what they say!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, but you know … I’m getting just a bit sick and damn tired of those on the ‘other side’ and their consistent whining, lying, and bitching. They don’t want to wear a mask, they don’t want to be vaccinated, they still claim to believe that the former guy somehow won the election, they don’t like removing Confederate statues, they don’t like renaming sports teams, they don’t like paying taxes, they don’t believe the U.S. has a racist history, they will defend their guns over the lives of their children … they are assholes and I’m tired of them. I’m tired of the press giving them attention. I’m tired of hearing them open their bloody mouths! Sigh. Sorry … stepping down off my soapbox now. 🤷

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’m with you. Enough with their BS. They’re literally stuck in the 50s, most of them. Because that’s the world they want, when white people dominated anything and everything. And you and I both know it’s what drove the idiot disgraced former president to victory in 2016. Hell, they don’t even hide it anymore. UGHHHH

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Nope, they stopped bothering to hide their true, ugly selves when the former guy told them that it’s okay to be a racist, a homophobe, a misogynist … they came out from under their rocks and now we don’t know how to get them back under there.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. In 1902 the Football Team Newton Heath LYR (Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways) had a change of name and eventually became the best known team in the World, Manchester United. Fans and players survived this contentious decision. I’m sure Cleveland will survive too,
    Hugs

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Change happens, we as humans evolve as the world changes around us … it is how we survive, by adapting. One of those changes is the removal of racist symbols like Confederate statues, and renaming some sports teams. Our friend Jeff shares with us his feelings when his favourite team changed its name, and I found that I could understand his feelings, even though I don’t care a whit about sports and they could call themselves the Ding-a-Lings for all I care! Thanks, Jeff, for your insights!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Jeff, old school baseball fan here. While I understand the tradition, the name had to go. We’ll just have to get used to the new name. The same team that was the first American League team to integrate with Larry Doby, still had this name hanging over its head. It is funny, I was thinking of Bob Uecker and his role in “Major League” as I read this – “just a bit outside.” Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I hear you Keith. Agreed. As I wrote to Nan in comments, people will still proudly and rudely wear Chief Wahoo and Indians gear to the ballpark for years to come-unless the team bans them from doing so. Hopefully, as time passes, this will be nothing but a distant memory. The city will embrace the change-eventually.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m NOT a baseball fan so perhaps this puts me out in “left field,” but I didn’t think the team name of “Indians” was all that bad. (I do agree, however, that “Redskins” was definitely beyond the pale. )

    Although “proper” reference is now “Native Americans,” the “Indians” were actually indigenous people who lived on this continent for thousands of years — long before it was conquered and settled. Unfortunately, they, like certain other members of the human race, were considered “less than,” and thus have been relegated to a lower level of humanity. However, as a people, they have much to be proud of and for all intents and purposes, I personally think the disgusting prejudice of the “White People” shines through all this hullabaloo related to the name change.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I agreed with you for a long time Nan. I never saw a problem with ‘Indians’ as their name. But then I read some articles from some who called for the name change-their reasoning being that Chief Wahoo, the racist logo, will always be connected to the Indians name. Thus, the name should go too. So once they got rid of Wahoo, the logo, the next step, in their eyes had to be the team name as well. It is what it is Nan. I fully support it.
      Many fans will still come to the ballpark proudly wearing the Chief’s memorabilia. You can count on that! It will be kind of a “I’ll show you” defiant protest against changing any of it. I suspect, though, that after a few years, those folks will fade more into the minority.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So simply changing the logo wasn’t an option?

        Personally, I’m sick of what’s going on with all this hullabaloo related to proper title/names for this, that, and the other thing. Perhaps some feel it’s “progress,” but to me it’s just adding to the dissension and division that’s already going on in this country. Maybe we’ll all come out for the better on the other side, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

        Liked by 1 person

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