Home Opinion Opinion: Cleveland Indians (still) need to change its name

Opinion: Cleveland Indians (still) need to change its name

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It may not be immediately clear, but we might watch history be made in November. With all the news cycles, we can sometimes forget we are approaching a date that, depending on what happens, would send major shockwaves throughout all of North America.

Obviously, I am talking about the Cleveland Indians possibly winning their first World Series championship since 1948. As I write this, the Cleveland baseball team swept the Boston Red Sox and won the American League Division Series, becoming that much closer to bringing Cleveland yet another championship. With five sports championships won by Northeast Ohio teams or natives since May, one more sports championship would make 2016 a year of dreams for the city of Cleveland.

Unfortunately, with so much enthusiasm in the city, fans of the baseball team have touted its racist mascot, Chief Wahoo, harder than ever. Some Caucasian fans have even gone as far as to don redface and Native American garb for the games at Progressive Field.

At this point in time, not much can be said that hasn’t been said already about how racist Wahoo and the Indians’ name is. There are practically no more ways to get across that a cartoon caricature of a racial stereotype is racist. Despite Wahoo’s demotion to the team’s secondary logo earlier this year, hats with the mascot insignia on it are the best-selling items in the team shop. Keeping the Indians name allows for this fan behavior to fester, and the only solution is to fully change the team’s name.

So why not take the name of one of Cleveland’s classical baseball teams, the Cleveland Spiders?

The former names for the franchise that is now the Cleveland Indians are either currently taken by other sports teams or just stink. The Bluebirds (the team’s name in 1901) now belongs to the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Broncos (the team’s name in 1902) belongs to the Denver Broncos football team. The others, the Rustlers (1894-1899), the Lake Shores (1900) and the Naps (1903-1914) are just terrible names for sports teams in the 21st century.

While this franchise may not have any good names, the other professional baseball franchise in Cleveland’s history (yes, there was another one from 1887-1899) had some decent names. The short-lived franchise had three names: the Forest Citys, the Blues (1887-1888) and the Spiders. The Blues are too close to the name of the Cincinnati Reds, and Cleveland is not much of a “forest city” anymore, so the Spiders is the only historical name that would be viable to revisit.

I can already imagine the criticism of going back to the Cleveland Spiders. It would be easy to object to having such a creepy arachnid as Cleveland’s team name and mascot, but a sports mascot should not always be cute and approachable; it needs to signify the strength and cleverness of the team. A team named after an animal that captures prey in its own web and attacks it afterward fits both those criteria in a fantastic, unique way.

Other Cleveland fans have seen the potential of the reborn Cleveland Spiders; that’s why it’s an incredibly popular option. Multiple fans, and even a writer for Yahoo! Sports, have contributed logo and uniform ideas should that be the team’s next name. Plus, if the franchise could somehow strike a deal with Marvel, watching little children run around in altered Spider-Man costumes sold by the team shop would be the most adorable sight in sports.

I am fully aware of the Cleveland Spiders team’s negative history. In 1899, much of the team’s players, including future Hall of Fame inductees Cy Young, Jesse Burkett and Bobby Wallace, were shipped to the St. Louis Perfectos after the Spiders’ owners purchased the St. Louis team. This was done in order for the owners of the two teams, Frank and Stanley Robinson, to make more of a profit by sending the better players to a more-populated city. As a result, the Spiders finished with a baseball history-worst record of 20-134 and were disbanded after the season. It was basically “The Decision” more than 110 years before the actual “Decision” happened.

That 1899 season is just one of Cleveland’s bruises on its sports legacy. But after LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship back in June, all our woes have been forgiven. The city of Cleveland has been given a blank slate for its sports legacy. It’s time to look back at the Cleveland Spiders and give the name another chance.

In a perfect world, Wahoo and the Indians name would be removed because it is morally right and gives basic respect to those of Native American ancestry. Like many Cleveland sports fans, I grew up with Wahoo for literally all my life, and Cleveland’s baseball team is my favorite sports team. But I am willing to give up that part of my childhood in order to not caricaturize Native Americans and other indigenous people.

If that still cannot be agreed upon, can we agree that the Cleveland Spiders would be a fantastic name?

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