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The Cleveland Baseball Team

The Major League Baseball team in Cleveland will get a new name.

Napoleon Lajoie, of the Cleveland Naps

Cleveland’s Major League Baseball franchise has decided to change its team name, moving away from the Indians moniker it has employed for more than 100 years and that is considered insensitive to indigenous peoples. Team owner Paul Dolan has confirmed the news Monday, which was originally reported by David Waldstein and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times on Sunday night.

“We’ll be the Indians in 2021 and then after that, it’s a difficult and complex process to identify a new name and do all the things you do around activating that name,” Dolan told the Associated Press. “We are going to work at as quick a pace as we can while doing it right. But we’re not going to do something just for the sake of doing it. We’re going to take the time we need to do it right.”

Dolan added: “It was a learning process for me and I think when fair-minded, open-minded people really look at it, think about it and maybe even spend some time studying it, I like to think they would come to the same conclusion: It’s a name that had its time, but this is not the time now, and certainly going forward, the name is no longer acceptable in our world.”

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The club is planning to use the Indians name and uniforms for the 2021 MLB season before changing names. Another option would have been going the route of the National Football League’s Washington franchise, which dropped its own offensive nickname in July. The club has since been known as the Washington Football Team.

“We don’t want to be the Cleveland Baseball Team or some other interim name,” Dolan said. “We will continue to be the Indians until we have identified the next name that will hopefully take us through multiple centuries.”

Cleveland’s decision comes more than two years after it started to distance itself from the “Chief Wahoo” logo. Back in July, when the Washington Football Team announced its altered identity, Cleveland announced it would investigate the “best path forward” with regards to the team name. Subsequently, our Dayn Perry offered several replacement options, including the ever-popular “Spiders,” as well as the “Rockers,” the “Crows,” and “Dobys,” named after Hall of Famer Larry Doby, who was the American League’s first Black player.

“We are not going to take a half-step away from the Indians,” Dolan said. “The new name, and I do not know what it is, will not be a name that has Native American themes or connotations to it. Frankly, (Tribe) would have been a name that I would have loved to pivot to. But in talking to these groups, they made it very clear that the issues that are attached to the Indians don’t go away with Tribe, particularly since Tribe has been tied to the experience of our team for many many decades.”

I saw the first hints of this on Sunday, and I saw a lot of support for the old Cleveland Spiders name, though I’ll be honest and admit that associating with a team that went 20-134 in its final season, even if that was entirely due to ownership shenanigans, would give me the willies. But even if it’s taking them another year to do it, at long last they are dumping their supposed-to-have-been-temporary racist nickname. Better (very) late than never. ESPN and The New Republic have more.

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One Comment

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    Why aren’t we renaming the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish? And the Boston Celtics?