After more than a century, the Cleveland Indians are changing their nickname. Sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan an announcement is expected this week that Cleveland’s baseball team will drop a name that has come under fire for being racially insensitive.
Here are answers to some of the questions about the change.
When will Cleveland’s baseball team have a new name?
While the team is expected to announce it is dropping the Indians name this week, it is unclear when a new name will be in place. Given the work involved in rebranding the team, including changing logos, uniforms and stadium signage, among other things, the team could have a transition period, as the Washington Football Team has this season after changing its name. So it’s possible Cleveland will go the generic route for the 2021 season.
What are some options the team might consider?
Old-timers might be pulling for the Naps (a nod to star player and manager Napoleon Lajoie), which was used before the Indians name was adopted in 1915. Even older old-timers might vote for the Spiders, which was used in the late 1800s but has some baggage of its own. More current options that have been suggested are the Rocks or Rockers, in reference to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which is in Cleveland.
Why is the team making the change now?
When the Washington Football Team announced it was changing its name in July, at a time when there was a rising sensitivity to racial issues in America, the Indians said they too would review the use of their name, which has been criticized as being racist for quite some time. Cleveland’s baseball team had already abandoned its Chief Wahoo logo.
Will the Atlanta Braves be changing their name too?
In July, the Braves said in an email to season-ticket holders that they would not be changing their nickname but would take a further look at the future of the tomahawk chop. In the letter, the Braves cited the team’s “active and supportive relationship with the Native American community for many years.” Whether Atlanta’s position changes in the wake of Cleveland’s move remains to be seen.
When was the last time an MLB team changed its nickname?
Other than franchise relocations, there hasn’t been a nickname change in Major League Baseball since the Tampa Bay Rays clipped their moniker from the original Devil Rays in time for the 2008 season. The National League hasn’t had a change since the Houston Colt .45s became the Astros in 1964, in advance of their move to the then-new Houston Astrodome.
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