Jeff Rich is a Cleveland-born sports fan living in the Arizona desert. His favorite memories include being “in the house” for Game 3 of the 1995 World Series and the Browns fake field goal walk-off win against Minnesota in 1989. Though physically separated from The Land by thousands of miles, Jeff keeps his eye on his hometown by watching the games and interacting with his fellow fans on Twitter (@byjeffrich). You can listen to him every Sunday on Dorf on Sports at SportsByline.com from 11 AM-1 PM (EDT)

Cleveland has called their baseball team the Indians for about 100 years now. That’s all but about 15 years of their existence, but will the team from the banks of the Cuyahoga still be called the Indians 100 years from now?

I doubt it. I don’t even give Chief Wahoo another decade, though he will live on forever in an unofficial and bootlegged capacity. Times are changing, whether you want them too or not. The fight to keep the mascot has already been lost.

Once the Chief receives his final farewell send-off, the table is set to break bread for the “people aren’t mascots” banquet. By the dessert course, Cleveland will be Indians no more.

Does this need to be a two-step process? It would be nicer to peel the band-aid off quickly, and I’d just as soon arrive at an inevitable conclusion without decades of bickering. Full measures versus half measures, if that makes any sense.

Different Name, Throwback Look

I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here. I think about the Marlins’ Florida-to-Miami transition. New colors, new identity, same awful organization.

We actually like the Indians, for the most part. We collectively should attend more home games, but unlike their neighbors a few blocks north of Carnegie, the area is proud of most things Tribe. Colors stay the same.

I don’t think they need a new style. Not to mention, I wouldn’t be able to create a worthwhile one. Maybe throw it back to the past a little bit?

We like those ’76 threads, right? That crooked C cap, everyone will know it’s Cleveland, soon enough. The wishbone C and the unreasonably hated block C–justification to such vitriol usually contains the phrase “phasing out Wahoo”–they just don’t cut it. They’re generic looking, and who wants to take a chance being confused for a Reds or Cubs fan?

So, use the block C cap from 1976 as a baseline. Do a white one, a grey one, and the original blue one. We’ll match them with jerseys next.

The issue with the tops from that era and every era since is that you’re going to see Chief Wahoo and/or the word Indians in every case. In this hypothetical time, both have become passé.

Chief Wahoo cannot be on the sleeve, even if he’s holding bat inside a baseball. If I need to put something on the sleeve to accompany the Majestic logo, more crooked C or how about the city’s flag?

Remind Everyone You’re From Cleveland

indiansgreyWhile I’m on the subject of representing the city, I think it’s a shame when the Indians wear jerseys on the road that don’t say “Cleveland”. That said, their road greys in their current state are perfect if you address the aforementioned sleeve patch issue.

Pair that up with a grey crooked C cap. If you’ll allow me to illustrate with words, the grey cap will feature a midnight navy bill, and blue C outlined in red, and the primary color should match the away jersey pretty well.

The 1976 jerseys are pullovers. I honestly don’t know if today’s player would prefer the button-down and part of me doubts they care. If it has to be modified to a jersey with buttons and that’s possible without looking weird, I’m all for it. I’m taking all three–the red, the white, and the blue.

In addition to whatever patch change is necessary, you can replace the word Indians with Cleveland on both the red and blue shirts (for road games) and the new nickname on all three.

Experts in aesthetics can discuss potential subtle differences between the home and away uniforms of the same color (striping, piping, whatever), but I’ll keep mine simple with name on back color varying from the home to away renditions.

So, What Name Replaces Indians?

Ah, the million dollar question, what do we call the sharp-dressed contenders? It’s fun to assume they’ll still be contenders when this all goes down.

Let’s call them the Cuyahoga…like the Cuyahoga River…like Cuyahoga County…like loosely translated from the Mohawk phrase to Crooked River. I’m sensing crickets. Am I being met with the sound of crickets accompanied by relative silence?

cuyahoga

It’s weird, right? It references a region, a la the Minnesota Twins or the New York Metropolitans. It pays homage to a group we’re trying to respect with this adaptation. The Cleveland Cuyahoga, maybe we can informally dub them Crooked River Crew or simply Crooks?

You can’t start with Crooks anymore than you can start with Bums, but if you get there–why not?