What baseball team is the guardians ? Perhaps baseball’s biggest surprise in 2022 was the young Cleveland Guardians team making the playoffs and winning the American League Central. It was, indeed, a season of note in the franchise’s long history as the youngest team in baseball won a division expected to be dominated by the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox in the spring.
But it was always going to be a memorable season and one the franchise would remember. In 2021, Cleveland decided to change its mascot and franchise name after decades of controversary. This year was the first year under that new name, the Guardians.
But they aren’t the only team to have changed its name and branding this century without moving cities.
Why did the Cleveland Guardians change their name?
For more than 100 years, the Major League Baseball team in Cleveland used Native American terms and logos. For the last few decades, the use of that name and imagery became a cloud hanging over the franchise as many in the sports world pushed the team to change their name and mascot.
After discontinuing the mascot and logo, but still using the nickname, the franchise changed the name in 2021 and even had actor and Cleveland baseball fan Tom Hanks help reveal the name.
What are the Cleveland Guardians named after?
The Guardians are named after the Art Deco statues on the Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field in Cleveland. The statues are known as the “Guardians of traffic.”
Cleveland Guardians were sued over new name
There was a lawsuit filed against the Cleveland Guardians over the name change. But it wasn’t angry fans. It was the local roller derby team. The two sides settled the dispute.
Why did the Tampa Bay Rays change their name?
It was a subtle change, but a change nonetheless. Founded in 1998, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays played under that moniker from 1998 to 2007.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were among the worst teams in baseball from 1998 to 2007. When Stuart Sternberg purchased the team after the 2007 season, he changed the name by removing the “devil.”
Tampa Bay Devil Rays was never the name the team wanted
According to MLB.com, the franchise wanted to be the Tampa Bay Stingrays, but a winter league team in Hawaii already had the trademark, which lead to the “Devil Rays.”
Some Tampa Bay fans hated the ‘devil’ in the name
Fans in Florida didn’t like “devil” being apart of its name, even though it had nothing to do with the bible. After nearly a decade of pushing to remove it, Sternberg finally acquiesced to fans.
The Tampa Bay Rays logo and name actually has nothing to do with fish
The name change to “Rays” was actually meant to signify the state of Florida, the sunshine state, and rays of sunlight. It’s why the sun appears in the current logo.
But when you have a fish tank in right centerfield, it’s hard to hide from the origin. So the franchise still uses the devil ray image in some logos.
‘Guardians’ is fine as a name for a baseball team
The baseball team in Cleveland has picked a new name for the 2021 season and they’ve settled on “Guardians.” The name was immediately met with controversy, which is inevitable in this day and age. But when it comes right down to it, “Guardians” is a fine name. It’s not showy or out there like a minor league team. It’s also not something that is currently the name of a lot of other teams. It may not excite a lot of people, but that may end up being its strength in the end. “Guardians,” as a name, is just fine.
The team that plays in Cleveland finally decided to change their name during the George Floyd protests last summer. They had been debating it for years and there had been protests of the old name for decades. But in the end, once they dropped the unquestionably racist “Chief Wahoo” logo in 2018, the team’s nickname was doomed. The block letter “C” that the team was using as a logo wasn’t, as team president Brian Barren said in the article linked below, a proper logo. And there wasn’t any possible logo connected to the old name that wouldn’t also bring up questions of racial insensitivity.
You can read up about all that went into the name change in this column by longtime Cleveland sportswriter Terry Pluto. In that article, you can discover that “Guardians” emerged from a list of names primarily because it had the fewest problems associated with it. Some of those problems were legal problems with trademarks and the like. Sometimes there were image problems with other names. Others, like “Rockers,” was just too close to “Rockies” to not cause problems. “Guardians” simply had the easiest path to being ready to go for 2022.
The Guardians, it was said, was picked because it represented how fiercely protective the people of Cleveland are about their city and its somewhat mixed reputation among people who aren’t from there. It also represents the “Guardians of Traffic” (or “Guardians of Transportation”) statues. These are a series of eight Art Deco statues built in the 1930s on the Hope Memorial Bridge in Cleveland, just outside of where Progressive Field now stands. There’s a photo of one of them with Progressive Field in the background at the top of this essay. I hadn’t heard of them before I saw the name as a candidate several months ago, but everyone in Cleveland knew about them. They also appear to be some pretty good pieces of public art, so if the name brings attention to the statues outside of northern Ohio, that’s a good thing.
Origins and Early History
The franchise that became the Cleveland Indians was founded in 1894 as the Grand Rapids Rustlers, a minor league club in the Western League. After the 1898 season, the team relocated to Cleveland and was renamed the Cleveland Lake Shores. The Western League itself was renamed the American League in 1900. In 1901, the American League broke away from the minor league status to declare itself a major league.
The Cleveland team was almost contracted by the American League after disappointing performances, but the owners changed the team’s name to the Cleveland Bluebirds in hopes of improving its fortunes. The ploy didn’t work, as the Bluebirds were almost equally unsuccessful. Before the 1915 season, the owners settled on a new nickname – the Cleveland Naps, in honor of star player Napoleon “Nap” Lajoie.
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