Nothing is constant but change the old adage goes. And some changes are long overdue. This week it was announced that the Cleveland Major League Baseball team will be dropping its outdated and offensive team name by 2022. 

For most of my life, I can remember the name and especially the mascot being controversial. There were regular calls to drop the mascot when I was growing up in Northeastern Ohio. The controversy would die down for a few years before rearing its head again. While most often it was the mascot, a caricature of a Native American chief, that was cited as the biggest cause of offense, the team name itself was often called out for being problematic as well.

As a kid the name never really felt cool. It was confusing, too. Why would a team call itself something that well it very much wasn’t? And as my own awareness grew, I learned more and more about why it was a problem. An erasure of a people and culture happened in North America. The name wasn’t a celebration of culture but a painful reminder of how much had been brutally  taken. 

Protesting the Cleveland Baseball Team’s name and logo*

Calls to change the name grew when the Cleveland team played the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016 American League Championship. Canadian architect and indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal tried to file an injunction barring the Indians from using their name and logo for Games 3 and 4 in Toronto, but the application was dismissed by an Ontario judge. This action drew international attention to both the name and the logo which was phased out after 2016. The pressure to change the name continued, though. 

There were always those who clung to the name. It was going to be hard to get the public fully on board with a name change. Even in my own family, there were those who didn’t think it was a big deal. Now, 4 years later after a summer of protests, the seeds of changes planted so many years ago have blossomed. Or you could say major league sports is getting with the program. 

Change can be a very good thing. The pandemic and protests has made people open to large scale change. There is an awareness that was missing before especially amongst the average white male fan. Mainly, their children are growing up and telling them this isn’t cool anymore. 

MLB knows it needs to update it’s image and attract younger fans. Not mention brands are no longer ok with supporting teams with offensive names. Sure the teams want fans to get on board and accept it but the advertising dollars are driving this change.  

This all begs the question what should the new name of the Cleveland baseball team be? The organization has said it will allow for ‘some’ fan input. Right now, the Washington D.C. NFL team which also has ended the use of it’s even more offensive team name, calls itself The Washington Football Team. I love that. It’s simple, it’s got a vintage feel to it. Naming the club after the place takes cues from many Premier League football clubs. Cleveland could simply be The Cleveland Baseball Team or some have suggested The Cleveland Baseball Club. It gives off a classic vibe and a sense of longevity. Another name high on my list and everyone else’s is the Cleveland Spiders. This was a name the team used very early on. It also is a good name to chant. Try saying ‘Let’s Go Spiders’, sounds pretty good right?

There are a lot of great choices. In a year of so much horribleness there are silver linings. Yes, it shouldn’t have taken this long. It shouldn’t have taken unnecessary deaths and protests. There will always be an asterisk when it comes to this change. But here we are, it is finally happening. 

For me, with a new name I might even be able to be a fan of the team again. Sorry Blue Jays you will have to share my allegiance. Whatever name Cleveland chooses is definitely going to be cooler than what they had before. And I can cheer for that.

*We don’t condone the use of the soon-to-be-former name or the former logo on this site. In this case, both of being shown as part of a protest sign and x’d out. Which is a statement we can get behind.