CLEVELAND — When the Indians first floated the possibility of changing their name last summer, several options immediately came to the forefront, including one seemingly favored by younger fans.
Many feel "Guardians" could be the eventual final choice, both due to its connection to the famous "Guardians of Traffic" sculptures on the Hope Memorial Bridge as well as the new and exciting marketing possibilities that have yet to be utilized by any other major sports franchise. In 3News' recent renaming poll, Guardians came in a solid third with 19.8% of the vote, although we actually thought it would be higher.
The eight Guardians have stood watch over the bridge since 1932, bringing a distinct Art Deco feel to the city that pays homage to days gone by.
Many outside observers will also recognize them from the literal opening shot of the iconic Cleveland baseball movie "Major League."
Just like with Spiders and others, Guardians uniform and logo design concepts began popping up on social media almost overnight. Local graphic design artist Zac Stewart may have come up with the best one so far, and popular apparel company GV Art + Design (once firmly in the pro-Wahoo camp) has even begun selling "Guardians of Baseball" shirts at its stores (they also sell versions for football and basketball).
There's also a dedicated @OurCLEGuardians Twitter account, and while it may not yet have the traction of its Spiders counterpart (it was only activated this month), it is slowly gaining followers and support.
Other than the short-lived New York Guardians of the second XFL, records do not show the nickname having ever been used by a major pro or college sports team. However, the Cleveland Guardians technically do already exist as an amateur roller derby squad competing throughout Northeast Ohio, complete with a logo trimmed in green and white that looks similar to some of the baseball fan designs. Whether or not this could pose a copyright issue for the Indians, should the want to pursue the name as an option, remains to be seen.
But despite the backing of numerous supporters, there still are many who question whether a pro baseball team should be named after sculptures (stunning as they may be) that may not make sense to baseball fans outside of the region. Some have also criticized the option saying the Guardians of Transportation have nothing to do with Cleveland baseball. Supporters counter the critique by saying the proximity of the Guardians overlooking Progressive Field is nearly a sign... an obvious choice.
These are the questions we naturally ask ourselves as fans, and the Indians brass is surely asking them as well as they attempt to make this very important decision. Should they end up settling on "Guardians," we can at least all agree on one thing: They have to invite Chris Pratt to throw out the first pitch at a "Guardians of the Galaxy" night.