This stinks for the fans in warm weather cities, where you can reasonably expect bright, sunny, warm weather–that is, baseball weather–on Opening Day. For fans of the Cleveland Guardians (formerly the Cleveland Indians), the cancellations mean that the really iffy early season dates, when snow is as likely as sunshine and moderately warm temperatures, have gone by the wayside. Deep down, fans have to be thanking the powers that be that they won’t have to be bundled up and trying to survive watching ridiculously cold home games that never should have been played.
Thanks to the cancellations, the Guardians won’t host the Kansas City Royals from March 31 (shiver!) through April 3, or the Minnesota Twins from April 4 through April 6. The cancellations announced today will affect away series with Kansas City and the Cincinnati Reds, and if a few more series get cancelled we can gratefully avoid the specter of baseball in Cleveland in all of April, too. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that it will snow in Cleveland during at least some of the days when baseball was to have been played.
I wish the players and owners would reach agreement, but I do acknowledge that the labor issues have at least introduced a kind of scheduling rationality that major league baseball has stubbornly refused to implement. It’s just dumb to play baseball outdoors in northern cities in March and April. Shorten the season, reintroduce the true doubleheaders many of us remember from our childhoods, or just avoid scheduling games in cold-weather cities until at least April 20 or so–just do whatever you have to do to avoid April baseball in Cleveland.
Now it’s not clear whether the former Cleveland Indians will be called the Cleveland Guardians after all. It turns out that the Cleveland roller derby team also is called the Guardians, and it had the name first. The Guardians roller derby team has sued the Guardians professional baseball franchise in federal court, arguing that the baseball team should be blocked from using the name and asserting claims under trademark, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices laws.
The Cleveland baseball franchise has announced its new team name. After more than 100 years as the Indians, starting next year the team will be called the Cleveland Guardians. The franchise announced the name with a video narrated by Tom Hanks, which you can watch in the article linked above. It’s a pretty generic video for the most part, with lots of standard pictures of Cleveland and people who are proud about that storied city, and a pretty forgettable script, too. But there is one statement in the video that rings true: the most important thing about the team name is the “Cleveland” part. Those of us who have lifelong ties to The Best Location In The Nation and its baseball team are going to root for the city’s baseball team no matter what its nickname might be.
But what about the name “Guardians”? I would have preferred the Spiders, which was the name of a prior Cleveland baseball team, but “Guardians” has its own link to Cleveland and its past. The Guardians are the names for colossal, stolid figures carved into bridges over the Cuyahoga River and featured in a lot of photos you see around Cleveland, so at least the name has that going for it. And it’s a pretty safe, basic choice. Some people have already made fun of it–the Bus-Riding Conservative says Cleveland Guardians “sounds like a prophylactic brand”–but after years of controversy, picking an inoffensive name that isn’t likely to rankle anyone seems prudent.
As for the team’s new logo, below, it looks like something a high school kid would doodle on their notebook during a boring study hall. But there’s still time until next season starts, and perhaps inspiration can strike. I’d like to see those little wings on the bridge guardians helmets put on the sides of the Guardians’ batting helmets, and big close-up photos of the heads of those poker-faced bridge guardian statues put on the outfield fences and elsewhere around the home ballpark. Why not go all in?
So, now I’m a Guardians fan. Who knows? With the team-naming controversy behind us, maybe the franchise can actually start focusing on winning baseball games.