Friday, July 23, 2021

Cleveland Guardians

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From my inbox, back in January:

A humble suggestion: Please stop using the nickname of Cleveland’s baseball team in the newsletter.

—Dave Z.

At the time, I replied, "A reasonable objection. It is something I think about, but so long as the teams go by the monikers, writing around that constantly is awkward. While you’re the first person to mention it, that doesn’t mean others don’t share the opinion.”

Well, that problem has been solved. MLB and the team announced this morning that starting this winter, the Cleveland baseball team will be known as the Guardians. The name, which has been met with some chuckles, is a deeply local reference to the “Guardians of Traffic” statues that sit on the Hope Memorial Bridge in Cleveland. 

As with hats and uniforms and ballpark food and anything involving team social-media accounts, I struggle to have a strong opinion here. The new name has a local connection and isn’t offensive to a segment of the citizenry, so it’s fine by me.

Sports nicknames are pretty much entirely nonsense; there are no trolley dodgers in Los Angeles, no giants in San Francisco, no pirates marauding on the banks of the Allegheny. We have two teams named for hosiery, two others steeped in religious concepts, one based on a system of government we rejected 250 years ago. Maybe, given all that, it’s OK for a team to have a nickname based on local architecture.

It’s more offensive to me that Francisco Lindor won’t ever wear a Guardians jersey than that the name exists at all. 

The official transition won’t come until after the season, but there’s nothing stopping me or anyone else from making the change today. While admitting I’ll probably slip and forget, the team of Bieber and Ramirez and Clase and Francona is now, for Newsletter purposes, the Cleveland Guardians.