Nothing about Friday night was all that staggering.
Not the announcement which came from the Cleveland Indians regarding the team’s consideration of a name change, nor the vitriol which filled the responses to it.
The team’s statement itself can be found below. While Cleveland never came right out and said a new nickname was around the corner, things seem to be pointing in that direction.
If you want to sift through the load of “done with this team” comments, by all means, direct yourself to the replies. I’ve already hit my quota for the weekend, but there’s plenty more social media foot stomping and boycott threats out there if you want to find any.
Overall, it seemed as if many within the fan-base were caught off guard by last night’s news, stunned that Cleveland would ever consider the idea of a new nickname.
However, nobody should honestly be that surprised by this. How could you be? The reality is this has been on the horizon for years now, and it was only a matter of time before the team finally came to terms with the fact a name change was inevitable.
Shocking as it may seem to some, but Cleveland’s nickname has been viewed as racially insensitive for a while. It’s difficult to make an argument against such a claim, but the club has been able to hang on to it despite that. Perhaps that’s why so many fans responded to last night’s news with such shock and anger.
The reality, though, is that the second Washington’s football team announced it was reevaluating its own nickname, the Tribe was on the clock.
There was just no way Washington -- a franchise which has long resisted ditching its significantly offensive nickname -- could finally buckle to outside pressure, yet Cleveland could leave the entire situation unscathed. Eventually, the conversation was going to shift towards the Indians.
Yes, the team finally removed Chief Wahoo from the uniforms last season. It was a necessary move, one which was long overdue. However, it in no way alleviated the concerns regarding the team’s name in general.
If anything, it just kicked the can down the road. The conversation wasn’t resolved, it was just postponed.
Moving on from ‘the Indians’ was never off the table. Scrapping a racist logo wasn’t a compromise meant to ensure Cleveland never had to consider further rebranding.
No, the nickname was always on borrowed time, hanging in there until there was enough groundswell and demands for change across the country that the club had no choice but to reevaluate it.
Not that it needs to be said, but we’ve officially reached that moment in history.
However, Cleveland’s decision to finally address it doesn’t prove the nickname was never that big of an issue until now. This isn’t something that just came up.
There have been plenty of grievances aired about the team name. We just now live in a time where Cleveland can no longer attempt to fly under the radar and avoid the conversation.
As a result, it seems unfathomable to assume this situation ends with any other outcome besides a name change.
Cleveland can’t put out a statement like last night’s, only to readdress the matter a few weeks from now by saying “we’ve decided we’re going to continue being called ‘the Indians’.” The team coming up with a new nickname remains the most probable conclusion here.
It’ll remain that way despite the angry tweets. Despite the expletives. Despite those who insist this would be the last straw, that they’ll ditch the club forever if it goes through with this.
And it’ll remain that way because, just as was the case with Chief Wahoo, excuses such as “well it’s not offensive to me” or “it’s not insensitive, it’s about baseball” aren’t as bulletproof as some believe them to be. A professional sports organization can’t respond this way to claims that many find its nickname to be racially insensitive.
The only real response Cleveland could make was changing its name. Said outcome was unavoidable, and it always has been.
Maybe you disagree. Maybe the idea of a franchise changing its questionable nickname is more offensive to you than the nickname itself. Maybe, as many others have yelled to me over the past few hours, you, too, are done with this team.
If that’s the case, you can join the many on social media who are loudly making their feelings known about the matter. Just know it’s not going to alter the outcome of this story.
Cleveland’s baseball team won’t be called the Indians for much longer. Choosing not to accept this is choosing to ignore the fact this result was always going to happen eventually.