The New York Times reported Sunday night the Cleveland Indians will be changing their nickname.
The alteration follows years of protests deriding the name as racist, putting Cleveland in position to reconsider, then subsequently change the nickname, akin to the Washington Football Team.
What’s next is unclear, according to the Times. The paper said the change could come as soon as next week. Cleveland manager Terry Francona is scheduled to meet with reporters Monday via Zoom as part of widespread media opportunities with managers that would typically take place at the winter meetings.
But any move to unbrand a more-than-century-old sports franchise nickname involves several layers. Merchandising concerns, signage, memorabilia. It will all have to be quickly changed since spring training -- should it start on time -- is roughly two months away.
A possibility for Cleveland is to replicate what the Washington Football Team did: eliminate the offensive nickname, then move forward without it while deciphering what to do next. Fans need to be consulted. Reworking uniforms and logos will be ongoing. Cleveland began removing logos and imagery of its cartoon mascot, Chief Wahoo, throughout 2019, moves which now appear to be a precursor to the more dramatic alteration reported Sunday night.
Cleveland began playing in the American League in 1901. It is one of Major League Baseball’s legacy franchises with six World Series appearances, two wins and a slew of star players from Tris Speaker to Francisco Lindor. Thirteen players from Cleveland are in the Hall of Fame. Only four teams -- the Yankees, New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs -- can claim more.
A “thorough review” of the Cleveland baseball team’s nickname began in July, shortly after the Washington Football Team formally dropped its previous nickname. The team went on to consult with state and national Native American groups. Meanwhile, Chief Wahoo was phased out following a 2018 announcement and replaced with a block “C” on uniforms and signage in 2019.
Now, a new nickname, new logo and new path forward all need to be determined.