As of the moment this article is published, the Cleveland Indians are no more and in their place, the Cleveland Guardians will be calling the corners of Carnegie and Ontario home next season. It's been a long, and arduous, struggle for the organization to get to this point, including a lawsuit with a professional roller derby team bearing the same moniker. It's now a new era for professional baseball in Cleveland and for Right Down Euclid as well. Other than covering the ongoing legal proceedings during the rebranding process, the baseball coverage here has been virtually non-existent, to say the least.
There are a few reasons for that but the biggest is my personal knowledge of the game itself. My only true experience playing baseball was coach pitch growing up when I was 7 and I only played until I was too old for it when I was 9. During that time, I wasn't a fan of playing either. I was always the biggest kid on my team which meant that I got the pleasure of playing catcher because I was the only one that could properly wear the equipment. That meant squatting for quite a long time (early childhood baseball isn't exactly a power-hitting sport) in what felt like a constantly humid Cincinnati summer in heavy pads that made me look like a cross between a miniature samurai and the Michelin man.
This clearly didn't exactly endear me to playing defense during America's pastime. The feeling was also somewhat mutual for whenever I was at-bat as well. Again, being the biggest kid on the team many opposing coaches thought I was somehow a power hitter. Well, the joke was on them - I was deathly afraid I was going to get him with the ball after our coach, and my best friend's dad, beaned said friend on the side of the head during our first game. I was always terrified I was going to be hit after that and after I learned you could just wait for three pitches until the tee was brought out, I always stalled and waited to hit it and try my best to get to first base. Those kids who were sent far out into the outfield? They needed a minute to come back after the initial confusion subsided.
I usually failed but at least I was consistent throughout my two seasons of play. As soon as I learned that the following year I was no longer young enough for coach pitch, which meant having a higher chance of another kid drilling me with the ball, I knew my baseball days were behind me. That didn't mean I hated the game, far from it actually.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are my dad surprising me last minute with baseball tickets during the summer and taking me to a game. I got to see Ken Griffey Jr., one of my favorite athletes ever, in his first game as a Cincinnati Red. I yelled his name from the nosebleeds and eventually he acknowledged the entire crowd but I like to think that it was for me and me alone and I couldn't thank my dad enough for making that happen. I still do from time to time to this day.
With all that said, I've always been a more casual fan of baseball compared to other sports. I coached basketball for several years and if you've followed me before this, know it's my wheelhouse in terms of coverage. Football, meanwhile, is a sport I played for several years and played nearly every position depending on the age level. So, I have more comfort with talking about that in regards to the Browns. When it comes to the newly-formed Guardians, though, it would feel remiss of me to provide my audience coverage when my main goal is to enrich and educate them when they consume my content. It would be inauthentic of me to try and share my insight and opinions on things unless I better educated myself. Since, again, I was always more of a casual fan of Cleveland baseball more than anything else.
So, in order to fix that, I got to work. Even before Right Down Euclid was formally announced, I spent time enriching myself in the history of the sport al while learning terminology and terms and phrases, just to make sure that I can produce the best quality content possible. I even spoke with a handful of individuals who spend time breaking down, and studying, footage as well in order to ensure that I can bring the best content possible for you, the reader. More often than not, I have spent my free time studying baseball in order to feel genuine with what I provide you and now, as of this story, I do.
But, knowing that, you're probably wondering why I didn't start sharing what I learned while the Indians were closing their season, right? Well, it's because the Indians were closing their final season as the Indians. Let's be honest, the Indians namesake has always been one steeped in racism. It's doesn't seem like something the organization indented, mind you. According to the club, it's in honor of Louis Sockalexis, an indigenous person, played in Cleveland during the late 1800s.
As a quick sidebar, this has been contested by sportswriter Joe Posnanski who argues, "Why exactly would people in Cleveland - this in a time when Native Americans were generally viewed as subhuman in America - name their team after a relatively minor and certainly troubled outfielder?" Sockalexis also, "had to deal with horrendous racism, terrible taunts, whoops from the crowd and so on," according to Posnanski.
But, that's where the problem lies when it comes to the Indians namesake: the fans. Seeing grown white men paint their faces red and wear headdresses to games is the most deplorable act fans could commit. But even wearing Chief Wahoo, a racist caricature of indigenous persons, is just as bad and will remain a staple of Cleveland baseball no matter what the organization does. The Indians organization didn't even get rid of Chief Wahoo until Major League Baseball threatened to take away the 2019 MLB All-Star Game, which would be a huge blow to the team financially.
The fact that the team wouldn't drop their racist mascot until it could've affected their bottom dollar is already troubling enough. But, the fact that the team didn't seriously consider dropping the Indians namesake altogether until last summer's Civil Rights movement in the wake of the George Floyd murder is frustrating. So has been the entire rebranding process, but, thankfully, as of today the Indians are no more and the Guardians are now the professional baseball club that calls Cleveland home.
The team also has banned all indigenous person-themed facepaint as well as headdresses at the ballpark and will continue to do so going forward. So, again, another step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the team cannot ban anything that shows Chief Wahoo or the Indians nickname - that's just unrealistic for a team that already struggles to get fans to attend games. But, hopefully over time that just organically phases out on its own as Indians gear becomes less readily available while every major retailer partnered with the organization pushes out as much Guardians gear as possible for the holidays.
But, again, due to the racist nickname associated with the team, I personally decided not to give it a platform until the change to Guardians officially happened. Now that the transition to a new era is in motion, now feels like an appropriate time to announce that this is the marking point for a new era for Right Down Euclid as well. We're still going to change the way that Cleveland sports, news, entertainment, and culture are covered forever but now every team, and fanbase, will be equally represented. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss any of it.