It took many years longer than some would have liked, but American sports teams are starting to do away with Native American or tribal nicknames. While it may have been culturally acceptable at one point in time, today, these names are widely viewed as offensive.
The North Dakota Fighting Sioux became the Fighting Hawks. The Washington Redskins became the Football Team (temporarily, anyway). And now, the Cleveland Indians are set to forever do away with the Indians monicker and Chief Wahoo, seen by many as racist. Will the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Blackhawks and others be close behind? Time will tell.
“Indians” is a bad team name regardless. It was based off of the notion that Columbus had landed in India and called the people he saw Indians. It should have been quickly apparent he was wrong and quickly corrected. Yet somehow, the term Indians stood. And over one hundreds years ago, the Cleveland baseball team chose to adopt the nickname, which remained until days ago when the team announced 2021 would be the last season of the Indians.
So, what should the new team name be? I will preface this by saying I am not from Cleveland, and in fact have only passed through the city once. Natives of the area probably have a much better idea of great nicknames than me, but hey, that’s what the comments are for!
The team actually began in 1894 as the Grand Rapids Rustlers. It would be a great way to honor the team’s humble beginnings. By the way, do you know what a rustler is? It’s someone who rounds up and steals cattle, horses, or sheep! Now that’s something to name a team after!
Another team name from a bygone era, Cleveland could once again become the Naps, named after perhaps their all-time greatest player, Napoleon Lajoie. Nap is short for Napoleon, if you didn’t follow. Plus, who doesn’t love a good daytime snooze? Would a Nap be any worse than a Twin or a White Sock in terms of inspiring fear? We say not!
8. Baseball Team
People actually seem to not hate the idea of going the soccer route and just… not naming teams. People are warming up to the Washington Football Team name. Think about it, who would win in real life in a baseball game—a baseball team or tigers? A baseball team or some blue jays? A baseball team or angels? Obviously, there is no actual better name for a baseball team than Baseball Team.
7. Lake Shores
Teams clearly like to go back in time to resurrect nicknames, I think. And what better name than Lake Shores, its name in 1900. It’s something Cleveland is geographically up against, too. Naming a team after the city’s famous lake shores would be sure to sell lots of aqua/teal colored merchandise!
Clevelanders are passionate about their beloved Browns football team, so why not go all-in and name the baseball team the Browns, too? The New York Giants were once both baseball and football. Same with the St. Louis Cardinals. Embrace the brown and orange!
Another one from the wayback machine, the Cleveland Infants first came about in 1890. Show me one person who doesn’t love infants! Can you imagine the baby attendance and promotional gimmicks the team could pull off with the infantile name? From big baby races in between innings to a diaper mascot, this team name really has it all.
4. Rocks (or Rockers)
This name has been floated as a new possibility, and it has nothing to do with granite or minerals. Cleveland Rocks! is well known from The Drew Carey Show, and Cleveland is also home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Yes, there is already a team named the Rockies, but the Red Sox and Reds have learned to coexist!
Okay, so if the Rock part of Rock & Roll is out, then why not Roll? Who would want to sign up to be rolled over? Not me! “Roller” has a secondary meaning of “a long swelling wave that appears to roll steadily towards the shore”. Hey, that totally applies to the Lake Shore thing. This is gaining some serious steam in my book.
2. Bones (or Thugs?)
If a team would name itself after Napoleon Lajoie or Paul Brown, why not local music legends Bone Thugs-n-Harmony? The legendary hip-hop group got its start in Cleveland in 1991, and today they are a household name. I could see how either version of the name might rub some the wrong way, but you would have to understand the context.
The Cleveland Spiders were worst team in baseball history, finishing the 1899 season an eye-popping 20-134 after most of their good players were sent to play for St. Louis. But the name is a good one, and it’s a crying shame it had to go away in the first place. Spiders are scary, and the branding and merchandising is an easy win. This is a no-brainer.
What do you think, sports fans? Do any of these team names resonate with you, or embody the spirit of Cleveland?