What’s in a name?
Until the Cleveland Indians reached the World Series, the hottest topic surrounding the team for the past five seasons has been their incriminating mascot, Chief Wahoo.
Love him or hate him, he’s been thrust into the national spotlight for his potentially offensive demeanor. Native American groups and supporters of change have protested outside of Progressive Field, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has even stated that he will look into banning the logo permanently.
The Indians took a step on their own to limit the use of Chief Wahoo.
On Tuesday, the team announced that it will discontinue their alternate cream-colored jerseys. With those jerseys, the Indians wore red hats with a block C logo. The team will retain the red hats with a block C logo and wear them with blue jerseys. Typically, the Indians wore a Chief Wahoo hat with the blue jerseys.
This is a small step in the team’s plans to slowly phase out the logo to appease the masses who find it controversial.
If the Indians want to a giant leap of political correctness, they could just stop being the Indians.
Professional sports teams have changed their names and remained in existence. The Houston Colt .45s became the Houston Astros, the New York Highlanders became the New York Yankees, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys became the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Florida Marlins became the Miami Marlins, among many others.
The outcry against the Indians might mostly come from outside of Northeast Ohio, but even Cleveland.com has come up with suggestions to what the Indians could soon become.
Do you like Cleveland Industrialists? What about Cleveland Blue Collars? How does Cleveland Sound sound?
Are you taken aback by Cleveland Guardians? Does Cleveland Inventors offer a spark?
Cleveland Spiders, perhaps?
Well, there was once a Cleveland Spiders in the National League that existed in the last 1800s, though they have no affiliation with the Indians we know today. Cleveland’s first American League team in 1901 was known as the Bluebirds, but they changed to the Broncos in 1902. That name last just one year, too, as the team took the field as the Naps (after superstar player Nap Lajoie) in 1903.
It wasn’t until 1915 that there was a Cleveland Indian. That name first came about as a copy of the Boston Braves, who also used a Native American as a logo.
So, Cleveland, it has happened before. More recently, Cleveland has had to endure an equally taxing change as Jacobs Field evolved into Progressive Field in 2008.
For all intents and purposes, it’s the same exact ballpark. Actually, Progressive Field is much nicer after a substantial renovation a year ago.
In Pittsburgh recently, CONSOL Energy Center was renamed PPG Paints Arena.
It, too, is the same structure. And, it sells out for every hockey game, just like CONSOL did.
A team changing its identity might seem like a much larger task than changing a stadium name, but it really isn’t all that different.
Professional baseball will still exist in Cleveland if the Indians ever change their name, just like baseball is still around in Houston, New York, Pittsburgh and Miami (even though nobody really attends games at new Marlins Park).
It will take some getting used to, but fans will learn to fall in love with a revamped organization, especially one that can compete for a World Series title.
If the MLB team in Cleveland were still called the Naps, people would still live and die on every pitch.
That will remain the case if there’s ever an Industrialists, Blue Collars, Sound, Guardians, Inventors or Spiders.
Or, even, Indians.
(Peaslee is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @HSDTsports)