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Cleveland Indians to become Guardians next season

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Cleveland chooses a name with local ties.

Sports Contributor Archive 2018 Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians’ rebrand process has officially been in effect since last winter, when the team announced its intention to change its name and move away from an identity that many believe is disparaging towards the Native American community. That process culminated in Friday’s announcement that the team will be known as the Cleveland Guardians, starting with the 2022 season.

The team name has local ties, as it references the “Guardians of Traffic” statues at each end of Cleveland’s Hope Memorial Bridge. It also allows for a rather seamless transition, as the final five letters of the name stay the same. The organization clearly is looking to stick with their existing visual identity as much as possible, picking a name similar to the old one and releasing similar logos and uniform mockups almost identical to the ones the team wears now.

There’s a fair argument to be made that the organization should have distanced itself from its old identity as much as possible, picking a name that sounds nothing like the old one and selecting uniforms that depart from the existing ones — especially since the team significantly watered down its uniform set over the last decade as complaints about the “Indians” name and the Chief Wahoo logo intensified. But the team clearly is content to stick with what it believes works, and that means the team’s visual identity will stay relatively unchanged, even as it transitions to a more inclusive, acceptable nickname.