CLEVELAND — Weeks ago, 3News conducted a poll to determine fans' current top choice for the Cleveland Indians' eventual new name. In order to make things easier for everyone, we included only six of what we feel are some of the leading candidates at the moment: "Spiders," "Guardians," "Municipals," "Rockers," "Buckeyes," and "Cleveland Baseball Club."
"Spiders" came in first with 27.7% of the vote, followed by Rockers and Guardians. Opinions are passionate from all angles, but if the survey taught us anything, it's that there is no clear consensus regarding what the new nickname should be.
Last Thursday, the waters got a bit murkier, as the team announced it has identified 1,198 potential options for the new moniker. While the organization has not yet publicly listed any, it's safe to assume the aforementioned six are at least being considered, given their presence on social media.
But what about the rest of the hundreds of prospective identities? Are there any names that could make a surprise surge, perhaps some we haven't even thought of yet? Some of the clues are out there, if you look in the right places.
The Indians actually already own the trademarks for three prior names they sported prior to 1915: "Blues," "Bronchos," and "Naps." While John Elway has likely made one of those a no-go in Cleveland, the other two have garnered interest, and Naps was even briefly the betting favorite before being overtaken by Spiders.
The current club originally had the Naps label from 1903-14, in honor of legendary second baseman Napoleon Lajoie. When the aging Hall of Famer was traded away after that last season, local sportswriters chose Indians as the replacement.
Blues stood as the team's name only for their inaugural campaign in 1901, and some feel it could be a nice callback and even pay homage to the city's music legacy (St. Louis' NHL team has made the brand work for five-plus decades). Jeff Ellis, host of the Locked On Indians podcast, predicts this will be what the club eventually chooses.
For those who feel it would be too bland to only select a color, "Blue Sox" is starting to emerge as a possibility, and the name even had the third-best odds back in December (10-1) to be the final selection. Our own Nick Camino also likes the idea, as he told me in our discussion last month:
Speaking of trademarks, 92.3 The Fan's Daryl Ruiter discovered Monday that the Indians organization is challenging trademarks for multiple handles. While this is likely just a way of going after bad faith actors, some intriguing choices include "Foresters," "Heroes," and "Squires."
Foresters harkens back to the "Forest City" nickname given to Cleveland years ago, and the city's first professional baseball club was actually named the "Forest Citys" in the early 1870s. Hall of Fame catcher Deacon White played for the team, but it folded after two seasons.
In betonline.ag's latest odds, other options mentioned were "Crows," "Rocks," "Cuyahogas," and "Bullfrogs." Also at a solid 12-1 stands "Wild Things," a clear tribute to Charlie Sheen's Rick Vaughn character from the "Major League" movies.
If the team instead wants to pay tribute to a real figure, two other opportunities could come in the form of "Fellers" or "Dobys." Bob Feller, of course, is the greatest pitcher in Tribe history, while Larry Doby was a trailblazer as the American League's first Black player. Both were a part of Cleveland's last World Series championship squad, both have statues in their honor outside Progressive Field, and both are in the Hall of Fame.
Some have suggested "Avengers," a reference to the filming of the first movie in the Marvel series in Cleveland as well as the Russo brothers, who directed several of the sequels. It has been noted that the NBA's Toronto Raptors were duly named, in-part, because of the success of "Jurassic Park" in the mid-'90s, but others aren't as keen on the idea.
"Commodores" has also been brought up as a nod to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who led the U.S. Navy to victory in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Should the organization go in this direction, inspiration could come from the old Perry Monument that used to reside in Public Square, or even Great Lakes' famous IPA.
Finally, "Buzzards" is a moniker that has started to gain traction in recent months. The branding of legendary rock station 100.7 WMMS would obviously be paramount, and Lords knows there are plenty of turkey vultures around Northeast Ohio. Plus, some of these uniform concepts (via graphic designer okPANTS) look pretty sweet.
Of course, if the majority of fans could decide right this second, they would choose to stick with "Indians" for the next 106 years. That's not going to happen, as the front office has made clear it intends to go in a different direction. There's no turning back from that, so it appears it's time to move on.
But how can the team possibly get down to 14 finalists (and one eventual final brand) when they have nearly 1,200 names at their disposal? After all, we've gone over a lot of possibilities today, and we still haven't even put a dent in that number.
Folks, this process is just getting started. We're just going to have to wait and see what happens.
Analyzing more options:
- 'SPIDERS': The current favorite in 3News' poll for the Indians' new name has a deep, rich history
- 'ROCKERS': Could the Indians get musical with their new name?
- 'GUARDIANS': The 'trendy' pick to be the Indians' new name
- 'CLEVELAND BASEBALL CLUB': What if the Indians went with no name at all?
- 'BUCKEYES': Possible Indians name option could pay homage to city's storied Negro League history
- 'MUNICIPALS': Contender for Indians' new name has a lot of grassroots support