If Recent History Is Repeated, Cleveland Fans Could Watch Over Their Guardians As They Win the Pennant
Spiders, believe it or not, were a popular choice. The Browns, too, had a strong contingent, even though it could have led to confusion between two sports.
What Cleveland settled on instead for their new baseball name was the Guardians, which is how it will begin the 2022 season. Before then, however, fans can now get Guardians merchandise, which went on sale last Friday in time for Christmas shopping.
According to retailers in the area, sales have gone much better than anticipated. Because of the strong resistance to the change in name, most people figured that fans would not be so eager to embrace the Guardians and its merchandise.
Hopefully the organization, the play on the field will have the same trend as the T-shirts, hats, mugs and posters. After all, the Indians finished with a losing record and missed out on the postseason for the first time in half a decade.
They are not expected to shop for free agents over the winter, so the 2022 Guardians should resemble the 2021 Indians on the field. There is a possibility, based on similar transitions in the past, that the name change could boost the record.
Since 1900 seven organizations have changed their team names, and one actually improved by 31 games. Such a turnaround, however, remains an anomaly, for most changes have resulted in very little difference in performance on the field.
The Boston Americans finished 59-90 in their last year with that name, and a change to the Red Sox brought them 75 wins in 1908. With a sixteen game boost, other clubs decided to change their names and in turn their fortunes.
In 1912, their last season as the Highlanders, New York's American League team went 50-102. The change to the Yankees saw them improve, but their 57 wins still could not pull them from the cellar in the junior circuit.
When Cleveland used the Naps as its name for the last time in 1914, they won 51 games. The next season, as the Indians, they improved to 57 victories.
Should the city's new name get a similar boost, Terry Francona and his unit would finish with 87 wins. That total would not guarantee them a division champiosnhip, but it would put them in contention for a Wild Card birth.
Maybe because it seemed to bring very little improvement in play, it was another two decades before any other team changed names. The Brooklyn Robins became the Dodgers in 1932, and they won only two more games than they had the previous season.
Cincinnati's Redlegs went back to simply Reds in 1959, and they won two fewer games. Two years later, however, they did end up winning the National League pennant.
Houston saw the smallest difference between name changes, when the Colt 45s in 1964 won 66 games and the Astros won 65 in '65. They would also ironically win 83 in '85 and 85 in '83, so they definitely do not want to make another name change until at least 2090.
More recently came the most dramatic improvement after a name change, the 31 game improvement mentioned earlier. Tampa dropped the Devil after going 66-96 in 2007, and the very next year they won 97 games and made it to the World Series as simply the Rays.
The next team most likely to make the switch, primarily for the same reason as Cleveland, does not need to do so in order to reach the World Series. The Atlanta Braves earlier this month not only achieved that goal, but they won the Fall Classic for the first time nearly twenty five years.