- Cleveland Indians considering changing controversial nickname
- Naps (+150), Spiders (+200) considered odds-on favorites
- Franchise has had Indians nickname since 1915
On Friday, the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians both announced that they would be evaluating their respective team nicknames with eyes on a potential change. The news came shortly after it was reported that a number of sponsors had threatened to end their partnerships with the Redskins if owner Dan Snyder didn’t vow to change the name. Over the weekend, first-year head coach Ron Rivera said that he has recently been working with Snyder on potential new names.
Sensing the way the winds are blowing, the Indians issued a statement later Friday that said, “We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality.” So far, those are the only two clubs with Native American-inspired nicknames to comment publicly on the matter.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 4, 2020
Both teams have faced plenty of public backlash for their nicknames over the years. Back in 2018, Cleveland did away with the controversial Chief Wahoo logo on its uniforms and logos. While the club still sells merchandise featuring the old mascot, you won’t find Chief Wahoo on anything worn by the actual players these days.
Naps or Spiders?
It’s a slow time for sports betting, so MLB betting sites were quick to jump on the news. If Cleveland ultimately decides to drop the Indians moniker, Naps is a +150 favorite to become the new nickname, according to BetOnline’s latest odds:
|Name||Odds at BetOnline|
Those with much knowledge of Cleveland’s baseball history may recognize a couple of the names on the list. The team was called the Naps from 1903 until 1914 before changing the name to Indians in ’15. The team adopted the nickname in honor of Nap Lajoie, who was essentially the American League’s first true superstar during his playing days. The Hall of Famer played in Cleveland from 1902 until 1914, but the club’s former owner decided to change the name once Lajoie retired.
While Naps may have some sentimental value for old school Cleveland baseball fans, the name certainly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the team these days.
A name that may resonate more with fans is Spiders. The Spiders were a team based in Cleveland that played in the National League between 1887 and 1899, but they were disbanded after the ’99 campaign after posting a miserable 20-134 record.
While the present-day Cleveland baseball team may not be eager to relive those days from an on-field performance perspective, the nickname “Spiders” does lend itself to some pretty nifty marketing opportunities. Check this out, for example:
We held a contest in 2017 to #ReDesignTheTribe, this Cleveland Spiders design by Ben Peters was the winner:https://t.co/qn5WnTASWD pic.twitter.com/kwvMNIs1px
— Cleveland Scene (@ClevelandScene) July 3, 2020
If you were to bet on this, I’d say a shot on Spiders at +200 makes for better value than Naps at +150.
Three of the nicknames listed above don’t seem to be overly serious. “Wild Things” would be a nod to the 80s baseball classic “Major League,” which featured Charlie Sheen playing the Indians’ fictional closer, Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn.
The Cleveland Buckeyes were actually a team that played between 1942 and 1950, but there’s another noteworthy program in Ohio that happens to share the nickname. That could lead to some confusion.
Going with the “Cleveland Rocks” could make for some pretty fun in-stadium anthem opportunities, but that’s about it.
Whatever the case, change seems to be on the way. On Sunday, Indians manager Terry Francona said that he fully supports the move to finally change the nickname:
Kudos to manager Terry Francona for saying it’s time for Cleveland to change their nickname:“I know in the past, when I’ve been asked about, whether it’s our name or the Chief Wahoo,I think I would usually answer and say I know that we’re never trying to be disrespectful. (more)
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 5, 2020