Cleveland's baseball team is about to have a new name for the first time since 1914. And by "about to" we don't mean this season, but sometime shortly thereafter. (Name changes come around so infrequently in MLB it feels right around the corner.) SI's baseball experts (who are decidedly not team-naming experts) weighed in with their ideas for the next name of Cleveland's ball club. We hope you're listening, Ohio.
I like the Cleveland Buckeyes. That was the name of the city's most successful Negro league franchise, which operated from 1942 to 1950, and of course it also references the tree beloved by Ohioans. Cleveland boasted the first Black player in the AL (Larry Doby) and the first Black manager in baseball (Frank Robinson), so this choice would help its fans move from a name that will one day embarrass them, if it doesn't already, to one that honors history that should make them proud.
The Cleveland Spiders is a popular choice right now—and with very good reason. It's a great name! You have the historical connection to the original National League franchise in Cleveland in the 1890s, but more importantly, it's just an ideal sports name. It's not overused. (In fact, it's criminally underused, with the University of Richmond one of the only examples of Spiders.) It's spooky enough to make for a fierce opponent but quirky enough to get a silly mascot, with lots of potential pop-culture tie-ins. There's so much material here: web jokes, arachnophobia puns, Spider-Man Night. Bring on the Spiders!
There are a couple of great suggestions on our list, and this is not one of them. But I enjoy alliteration and won't stoop to the level of the abominable suggestion below, so I give you the Cleveland Cobras. Sounds fierce, and it's fun to say. Unfortunately Dave Parker never played for Cleveland but he did suit up across the state in Cincinnati. Close enough, right? I hate snakes but I love this idea. Bring on the Cobras.
There are already so many bird mascots in sports, but what of the crow? "Cleveland Crows" rolls right off the tongue, and Ohio has apparently seen a year-long rise in crow populations over the last few decades—something that's not always been welcomed.
However, northeastern Ohio's Lake Metroparks is home to a lovely crow named Mimic, a local fixture who's become quite comfortable with humans, even accepting dollar bills in his beak before dropping them in the park's donation box. How cool is that? Way cooler than spiders, that's for sure.
O.K., so hear me out. Call them the Cleveland Lindors, as the Cleveland Naps were dubbed in 1903, after their star second baseman and future Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie. This would ensure they’d have to re-sign Francisco Lindor to a long-term contract before he hits free agency next winter.
In today’s game, with all the merchandising and marketing that revolves around a team’s nickname, Cleveland couldn’t adopt this name for one year and then pivot again after losing Lindor. So instead, the Cleveland brass should negotiate with Lindor on a new contract that would give him royalties for the use of his name. If they can’t afford to pay his salary alone long term, they should get creative to keep their best and most popular player. Give him a slice of the pie for everything the team sells using its new moniker: “Cleveland Lindors.” This arrangement can continue long after Lindor retires, so long as the team is still called the Lindors.
Small market teams like Cleveland need to get creative to keep their best players. As they say in The Mandalorian, this is the way.
In the same vein as Matt's response above, let's honor a franchise legend by going with the Cleveland Dobys.
Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the American League when he signed with Cleveland in 1947, kicking off a Hall of Fame career that included seven All-Star appearances and a 1948 World Series victory. (The team's most recent title, mind you.) Doby is one of the greatest icons in team history and would be an honorable figure to name the club after.