A solid rule of thumb for mascot names is that you should be able to easily envision what the mascot actually is. There are exceptions that have acquired iconic status through sustained success and the sheer passage of time — “Yankees,” for instance.
But they’re exceptions.
What the hell is a “Guardian,” exactly?
My hot-take theory is that t-shirt printers told Cleveland they’d get a discount on producing new merch if they saved the “dians” part of the logo template.
The Cleveland Indians announce they will become the Cleveland Guardians in the 2022 season.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) July 23, 2021
The winged “G” with the baseball is more offensive aesthetically than the “Indians” name was morally. But oh well:
Team owner Paul Dolan said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the club’s name.
“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” Dolan said in a statement. “Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.
“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
Reportedly they went through no less than 1,200 possible names before somehow settling on … “Guardians.”
Many a Clevelander on social media this morning beat Dolan to the punch by advising outsiders that “Guardians” has meaning to locals. They envision something specific when they hear that word even if literally no one else in America does:
TBH, The Guardians is much more authentically Cleveland than most jokesters on this website understand
— josh grubbs (@JoshuaGrubbsPhD) July 23, 2021
Okay, but “ackshually it refers to our weird traffic statues” isn’t quite the debate-ender locals think it is. The complaint isn’t that “Guardians” is random, although it seems that way to most of the country. It’s that it’s unmemorable. In the 19th century the local Cleveland baseball franchise was known as the Spiders and featured star pitcher Cy Young. Revering to that mascot would have been a fine nod to tradition, instantly memorable, and unique. There aren’t many sports teams at any level with insects as their mascots, after all.
“Cyclones” would have worked too as a tribute to Young. Or they could have paid homage to their state by choosing “Buckeyes.” No shame in being the second-most popular team from Ohio with that mascot.
Heck, if they wanted to honor the Guardians of Traffic, they could have gone with “Cleveland Ugly Statues.”
They knew “Guardians” was going to be a hard sell to baseball fans so they lined up Tom Hanks to narrate this cornball video introducing it. I wonder what percentage of fans will be rejectionists wearing Chief Wahoo gear to the park next year.
Together, we are all… pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 23, 2021