Cleveland Indians Change Name to the Better-But-Still-Bad “Guardians”

The team announced its new moniker Friday with a video highlighting the history of the city

Terry Francona
Manager Terry Francona of Cleveland's MLB team.
Julio Aguilar/Getty

In a video that was released on Twitter early Friday morning, Tom Hanks informed us that of all the names Cleveland’s baseball team had to choose from to replace their current, soon-to-be-defunct one, the club went with … the Guardians.

Named the Indians in 1915 after going by the Spiders, Blues and Forest Citys before that, the ball club decided to change the name as more and more institutions and teams permanently drop logos and names that are racially or ethnically insensitive.

The name, which will go into effect after the 2021 season, is a nod to the statues along the Hope Memorial Bridge in Cleveland. The “Guardians of Traffic” sculptures on either side of the bridge are meant to symbolize progress.

Viewed in any light, the transition away from using the old nickname and its painfully antiquated Chief Wahoo logo is certainly progress. While “Indians” may not have been considered as outright offensive as the former name of Washington’s NFL team, it was certainly hurtful to some, and changing it was the correct and intelligent thing to do.

Perhaps not so intelligent? Going with the Guardians.

Following months of conversations with fans, franchise officials decided that the team’s new name needed to connect with the city, preserve the team’s history and unite the community. After initially coming up with nearly 1,200 potential new names, the team whittled that list down to just a few candidates and began vetting them for legal purposes in June.

“We’ll continue working with our creative team to revise and refine our new branding elements,” the team said at the time. “We want to make sure every element will support our new name, has a story to tell and aligns with the key themes we identified from our research (connect to the city, preserve our history and unite the community). Once we feel strongly about all elements, we’ll put the finishing touches to make sure they all work together as one cohesive brand.”

And Guardians — and the clunky and chunky accompanying logos — is what you came up with?

On the heels of Seattle going with the Kraken for their new NHL team and D.C.’s NFL team using the oddly cool Washington Football Team (at least on a temporary basis), Cleveland went with a name that a bad baseball movie might choose for a fictional team that can’t hit and can’t field, yet somehow pulls it together for a playoff run on the diamond while bonding off of it. It isn’t offensive and the historical context is fine, but the Guardians, as a name, is average at best.

Did anyone suggest Cleveland Rocks? The Presidents of the United States of America already took care of the team fight song.

That said, perhaps we should just be happy they didn’t go with the Polish Boys.

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