Letter to the Cleveland Indians

To the Director of Operations of the team formerly known as the Cleveland Indians or whatever your actual title is:

Dear Sir or Ma’am,

Firstly, let me applaud you for your decision to finally change your Major League baseball team’s name to something other than the Indians. While I’m aware that this never originated as an objectification of Native Americans, initially following the departure of Nap Lajoie—when your team was called the Naps—and was merely a revival of what your fans had been calling you previously (the Indians) due to team member Louis Sockalexis being one, much in the same way the four other New York mafia families in The Godfather referred to the Corleones as the Irish Family due to the presence of adopted son Tom Hagen, it’s nonetheless refreshing that you’ve come around on this issue, despite the fact that it’s been discussed for decades (maybe when you were out of the room).  I’ll just say then better late than never. So, point for you.

That said, I have to take issue with your chosen new name for the team—the Guardians. First let me point out that rhythm is an important aspect of any name. Ideally you want the first part to have more syllables than the second part. You, however, have reversed the order, having a two-syllable city name followed by a three-syllable team name. I find this both busy and mushy.

My second issue with this name is its blatant sanctimoniousness and self-absorption. You are the Guardians of what exactly? Women’s virtue? Wayward teenagers? The galaxy? Some unspecified gate? Let me further point out to you, since it apparently hasn’t been yet, that by giving your team this holier than thou name, you’ve set the bar so high for yourself that you’re doomed to fail. You can’t call yourself the Guardians and be bad at your job. In short, if you don’t win the pennant every year and then go on to win the World Series, you’ll have to consider the entire year a failure. I know I will. Along with a name such as the Guardians comes considerable responsibility to succeed and/or be an obvious aid to the community based on good deeds. Quite frankly I would not suggest it be a name adopted by any organization that isn’t headed by Curtis Sliwa—who also might sue you for trademark infringement, as may your very own Cleveland professional men’s roller derby team who happen to be named THE GUARDIANS. But that’s a different subject (and good luck getting their website domain name without having to hire Alan Dershowitz).  

Getting back to the clumsy-mushy-busy as well as the sense of superiority issue, if you’re imagining Joe and Jed Six Pack sitting on a girder saying, “Hey, did you see what the Guardians did last night?” that’s not going to happen (it’s not going to happen with the roller derby team either because the last time anybody watched men’s roller derby was when the Kingston Trio were considered controversial). I suggest you prepare yourself now for your baseball team to be ever referred to as the G’s. Evidence for this is already extant, and so allow me to direct your attention to the Oakland A’s. Yes, they are in reality the Athletics. But nobody calls them that. The reason nobody calls them that is because naming them the Oakland Athletics is as stupid as having named them the Oakland Freshman Year Economics.

I will give you credit for at least having thought about the name process, though. This is more than I can say for the assembly that came up with the Philadelphia Phillies—and if I may for a moment bring football into the discussion, the Houston Texans. In regard to the latter, I’m inclined to believe that the Houston Houstons was the choice that came in second in the polling. And in both cases this would be a prime example of a committee’s inability to think either out of the box or still in the box, and is what’s colloquially referred to as phoning it in. Allow me to opine that there was no further time spent on coming up with a name for either of these two teams than Neil Hefti spent writing the lyrics and music for the Batman TV show theme in the sixties. I mean really, did he compose this while taking a leak or what? It ain’t no Underdog I know that.

I digress and yet don’t; hang onto that Batman thought as we’ll be getting back to it shortly.

As I said, prepare yourself for a compression of your holy Guardians name. The Cincinnati Red Stockings lasted about a week before they reasonably just became the Reds (though ever so briefly returning to the Red Stockings variant of the Red Legs in the 50’s in order to avoid the scrutiny of Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee, but then promptly reverting back to the more fluid name of the Reds following McCarthy’s premature and convenient demise from alcoholism and whatever had accidentally rubbed off onto his suit from sitting next to Roy Cohn for so long).

Then we have the more recent incarnation of the old Washington Senators, they being eventually disbanded following years of awfulness, into the new and shiny Washington Nationals. I wish to note that a National is not a thing all by itself unless you’re referring to a brand of Jewish hot dogs. Consequently they more often than not are referenced simply as the Nats. On a side issue here, while this term also possesses the same degree of non-meaning as the Nationals, I fear that like the Indians’ name it will some day in the not-too-distant future be further reviewed as being an offensive racial objectification of the late Nat King Cole and Nat Turner. Who knows what offense might be found with The G’s (geez? Jesus? I don’t know). I also envision eventual doom for the San Diego Padres—no, not from the Catholic Church given that as far as I can tell they don’t object to anything that might be considered inappropriate (hey, sue me)—but from the Mayans of Mexico for this ugly vestige of Spanish colonialism.

Far be it from me to present a complaint and not have a helpful solution in regard to this name business. I have one. It’s been sitting there just waiting for somebody to grab it: The Bats! And I mean the animal. Yes, the Cleveland Bats. It rolls off the tongue. Also, there’s nothing to live up to here given that people have no idea what makes a bat successful. There’s also a double meaning as well in that “bats”—in this case the piece of wood with which you strike the ball—suggests slugging prowess.

But getting back to the animal, you have an automatically cool logo (see Batman and horror movie references). Also you have a mascot that just about everybody is irrationally terrified of. That can be you, Cleveland. Yes you!

Thank you for taking these thoughts under consideration. Should you come to your senses and realize the Bats is an ideal name (and Guardians stinks), you need not fear that I will expect some sort of monetary compensation for steering you in the proper direction, but a footnote with my name in your Wikipedia page would be not unwelcome.


U. Allen Plum

(Go Cubs)  

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