The other night, I was watching How I Met Your Mother (the “Who Wants to Be a Godparent?” episode) in which Ted comments on Barney’s throwing ability: “He’s not Vinnie Pestano.” There was a little banter back and forth, LeBron James was invoked, and it ended with Ted protesting, “Cleveland sports are still relevant!”
Seriously, this is what we’ve come to. The Indians and Cleveland sports in general don’t get any respect. Even when we beat, say, the team who ended up as the American League champions, everybody says it’s because the Tigers played poorly, not because the Tribe actually happened to play well.
Cleveland fans know their team will always be regarded as the perpetual underdog, but I don’t think we’ve fully embraced this role. This is why I propose that we change the name of the Cleveland Indians to The Cleveland Dangerfields, in homage to the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, whose catchphrase was, of course, “I don’t get no respect.” The Indians, too, find it difficult to garner positive attention on the national sports scene. We are perennially looked upon as the also-rans, never wases, and maybe ifs.
Even among losers we’re losers. When Forbes published its list of The Most Miserable Sports Cities, Cleveland ranked #8. I know, right? Eight. The caption read, in part, “No, Cleveland. Miserable as you are, you’re not No. 1.” Goodness, “snarky” doesn’t even begin to describe the folks at Forbes. Atlanta was deemed the most miserable sports city. Now Atlanta’s last championship in a major sport came in 1995, when the Braves won the World Series. And yes, we all know who they beat. Our beloved Indians. Yet somehow the sports fans in Atlanta are deemed more miserable than those in Cleveland.
And when the good folks at Data Remixed.com came up with their database of The Worst Sports Droughts in North America, Cleveland of course ranked behind the Chicago Cubs in the longest World Series drought. However, when you look at merely the longest time without some sort of championship, we have the longest drought. Again, we are so frequently maligned that we can’t even be given the courtesy of being regarded as the most maligned.
So why not embrace this lack of respect by renaming the team after the King of Self-Deprecation? We could use Rodney’s mug as the new mascot (which would also remove the annual debate over Chief Wahoo). The new uniforms could be rumpled black suits with a white collared shirt. Players are already required to wear a belt, why not make it a suit belt? In the warmer weather, many players like to unbutton the top button (sometimes both top buttons) on their jersey. As the Cleveland Dangerfields, they could just loosen their tie and unbutton the top button. Same slightly casual look yet still within the confines of the MLB uniform. If anyone shows up overweight to Spring Training camp next year, well Flounder, that’s okay. Not every Dangerfield needs to be svelte. And of course, Progressive Field could be renamed Danger Field.
I hope that next season, we’ll be cheering on the Cleveland Dangerfields all the way to the World Series. Of course, they’ll only get there because some other team will mess up.