I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve needed a day with limited pre-planned meetings to come in and knock out a to-do list that seems to only grow. Today was supposed to be that day. My red pencil is literally still sitting where it was when I walked into the office, with nothing crossed off, my day totally derailed by Team Dolan’s choice to rename his baseball franchise, the Cleveland Guardians.
To be clear, I have no objection to the need for a name change, even as iconic as Chief Wahoo’s face inevitably is. I still remember the old statue of Chief Wahoo mid-swing over Gate D at Municipal Stadium as a kid. In the late ’80s (before Major League did more for a city, sport, or franchise than any other movie, ever), it wasn’t uncommon to attend an Indians game with 3,500 of your closest friends in an eerily quiet monstrosity of a stadium. According to Baseball Almanac, the average attendance from 1986 to 1992 was somewhere around 15,000. No chance. Clearly the beginning of the “paid attendance” figures.
Since tickets weren’t exactly hard to come by, we did sit five rows deep behind the visitor’s on-deck circle in the shadows of a mammoth of a human being named Frank Thomas during his rookie season; I’m guessing I was in 5th grade. And since security wasn’t exactly Pentagon standards, we also walked out of the stadium one night with Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. as if we were both looking for the same cab. My family will remember, The Kid wouldn’t even sign an autograph for my sister, and told me he only had time for a picture (text me and I’ll show you the pic)…and then we took at least another 200 steps together. Where were those “Guardians” that night?
I liked the idea of the Cleveland Naps, even the Cleveland Lajoie’s, or Fellers. The city would have hopped on the Fellers for sure. It doesn’t end in “-dians”, which clearly looks intentional, but the Cleveland Doby’s even sounds better. Cleveland Spiders would have been my pick, a nod to one of the original nicknames of the city’s professional baseball clubs, and a more formidable mascot option.
I immediately sent a group text to our travel baseball coaches and the best response yet was, “we sound like a Marvel comic book.” Hard to argue. I can already picture Iron Man’s mask on an oversized baseball as the mascot. Are those wings coming off your “G”? Are you flying somewhere? Certainly not to the top of division standings anytime soon with Detroit slowly creeping back into the picture.
Could not have been the Rockers, a name jinxed by a crumbled WNBA team. The Cleveland Baseball Team would have been a mockery too, i.e. The Washington Football Club. And why’d they use Tom Hanks to do the promo intro? Dennis Haysbert couldn’t get a day off from Allstate? For God’s sake, he was Cerrano! There’s a whole cast of characters from Major League that would have been much more suited, voices plenty recognizable to deliver the message.
This is still fresh… pundits are already hopping all over this one today. As if the team needed another reason for people to mock them.
Maybe we’re banking on increased merchandise sales to help with the, “we can’t afford the big-name players in a small market” argument. Then again, perhaps the Erie Warriors fan club could borrow the protest tactics of the Nordecke to properly stage a revolt! (I can’t take credit for that one either, someone else already said it.)