CLEVELAND — Over the July 4 holiday weekend, the hottest topic in sports had to do less with action on the field, and more with the futures of two longtime nicknames: the Cleveland Indians and the Washington Redskins.
As social media and sports talk shows fan the flames of this discussion further, the nation's chief executive has weighed in with his thoughts on the franchises potentially changing their names.
"They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct," President Donald Trump tweeted. "Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!"
Following calls for change from the community, lawmakers, and sponsors, including FedEx and Nike, the NFL's Washington Redskins announced on Friday that they plan to undergo a thorough examination of the team's identity.
Hours later, the Cleveland Indians released a statement saying it has begun organizational discussions about the future of the nickname.
"The recent unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice. With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name," the Tribe said in its statement.
Although the president is not in favor of a name change, key members of the Cleveland baseball franchise are.
"I think it's time to move forward," Manager Terry Francona said. "Even at my age, you don't want to be too old to learn or realize that maybe I've been ignorant of some things and to be ashamed of it and to try to be better."
All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor added, "I understand society shifting and it's changing. We are due for some change. Along those guidelines, I'm open to listening to a change of names if it's going to bring more love, peace and happiness to the world."
That shift in society Lindor was referring to includes a newfound awareness of racial insensitivities in the United States following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis and the civil unrest that followed. In the week's since Floyd was killed while being arrested on Memorial Day, several companies and brands have made pledges to either examine or change racially insensitive names and/or mascots.
As for what the Indians might change their name to, that has yet to be determined. But if you're a betting man or woman, the odds favor Cleveland looking to its past.
Shortly after the Indians announced that they would be examining a potential name change, the online betting website BetOnline.ag released odds for what the franchise's new nickname will be. At +150, "Naps" is viewed as the favorite, with "Spiders" trailing just behind at +200, per SportsBettingDime.com.
Both names would qualify as nods to Cleveland baseball history as prior to being renamed to the Indians in 1915, the franchise was called the Naps from 1903-1914 in honor of star second baseman and future Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Spiders played in the National League from 1889-1899 before being contracted.
As for more original names, "Guardians" is set at +300 odds, with "Wild Things" at +500. "Buckeyes," which served as the name of Cleveland's Negro League team name from 1943-1948, possesses +600 odds, with "Rocks" set at +750.
For the gambling uninitiated, a successful $100 wager on Naps at +150 would return a bettor a $150 profit, while a winning $100 bet on "Rocks" at +750 would return $750.
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