Scenes from Spring Training: Boppin’ around the Indians and the Reds

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The Reds and Indians share the Goodyear complex.  The team clubhouses and practice fields are about a half mile down the road from the ballpark. Neither the Reds nor the Indians take their BP or infield in the main park, even on game day, so I’ve spent most of my morning driving and walking long distances around the joint.

It’s quite new — it opened in 2009 — so it’s a lot like the hella-complex out in Salt River Fields in terms of its modernity and conveniences and sheer space.  It does lack that high-polish shine of Salt River, however, and I think in some ways this is a good thing. I still have this lingering feeling that the clubhouses in Salt River are too comfortable. This place seems like a nice balance between the spartan locker rooms of the old places and the VIP lounge-feel the Diamondbacks enjoy.

Or maybe it makes no difference. For what it’s worth, my observation of the Indians’ clubhouse today was that it was young and loose and fun. If the Indians are going to be one of the worst teams in baseball this season, no one has told them about it.  Especially Carlos Santana who, like Pablo Sandoval the other day, was bopping around the place with his headphones on, shirt off, singing and dancing like no one was looking. Must be a catcher/corner infielder thing.

From there I moved a quarter mile further down the road to the Reds’ place. By the time I got there they had left the clubhouse and had made their way out to the practice fields. I stood against a fence near where they were playing long toss.  Ryan Hanigan missed one and it hit me on the arm on one hop. Amateur hour, starring Calcaterra. I may or may not have heard a chuckle from the guy standing next to Hanigan.

That aside — and I can’t talk about it anymore on the advice of my attorney (Ow! Ow! The pain! The suffering!) — the Reds workouts were fun.  Dusty Baker was loose and joking. The Reds beat guys — including Mark Sheldon of MLB.com and John Fay of the Cincy Enquirer — were nice dudes.  The coaches and the team employees were all cool.  Just a relaxed bunch.  But effective. I couldn’t tell you what makes for a crisp set of infield drills vs. a not-so-crisp set, but Baker clapped his hands and yelled “good infield, good infield” after it was over.

Then it was back to the ballpark.  On the way there I decided to study this statue that sits outside in some detail:

I don’t know either.  The plaque at its base says that it’s called “The Ziz,” by Donald Lipski. It also says it’s “named for the giant mythological bird.”  Here’s an explanation of the mythological bird. It’s something out of Jewish mythology. Annie Savoy taught me, however, that there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and 108 stitches on a baseball, so at least as far as this statue is concerned I’m all kinds of confused, theologically speaking.

Well, not too concerned, for I have perfected Zen:

Sorry to do that again. It just seemed right. And no, that stuff on my shoe was not anything intended for Dusty Baker. It’s wet warning track clay. I can think of nothing I’d rather have sticking to the bottom of my shoe.

An hour or so until game time.

Imagine the Cleveland baseball club in green

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Everyone talks about getting rid of Chief Wahoo but nobody does anything about it.

Well, that’s not totally true. As we’ve noted, Major League Baseball and the Indians are slowly doing something about it. But the thing they’re doing — a slow phase-out of Wahoo, hopefully in a manner no one really notices — is likely going to anger just as many as it pleases. Such is the nature of a compromise. Such is the nature of trying to do the right thing but being afraid to state the reason why they’re doing it.

A bold move would be a lot more interesting. Not just getting rid of the logo, but totally rebranding the Indians in a cool and exciting way that would inspire people to buy in to the new team identity as opposed to merely lament or accept the abandonment of the old one. To that end, a man named Nick Kendall came up with a super fun and super great-looking redesign and rebranding of the Indians over the weekend.

Kendall, who is not really a big baseball fan but who has spent a lot of time thinking about uniforms and design, went back to 1871 and Cleveland’s first professional baseball team, the Forest Citys (yes, that’s how it was spelled). He took their logo — an interlocked F and C — and built an entire set of uniforms out of it and some aesthetic choices of his own. The new color scheme is a dark green and white. He even includes two alternate, solid-jersey designs. All of it is done in a great looking mockup. Really, go check it out and tell me that’s not cool.

I like it for a couple of reasons. Mostly because the uniforms just look fantastic. I love the design and would love to see a team with that kind of look in the game. We have too many reds and blues. Green is woefully underused in Major League Baseball and it’d be good to see some more green around.

Also, as Kendall notes, and as soccer shows us, the “[city] [mascot]” name construction isn’t the only way to approach team names, and so the name — Forest Citys, or some derivation of it — would be unique in baseball. Maybe it’s be “The Cleveland Forest Citys/Cities.”  Maybe “Forest City B.C.” would be a way to go? Maybe, as so often happened with baseball teams in the past — the Indians included — the nickname could develop over time. It’s certainly preferable to the option a lot of people point to — The Cleveland Spiders — which (a) evokes the worst baseball team in history’ and (b) sounds like something a 1990s NBA marketing team would come up with.

If the Indians are going to get rid of Chief Wahoo — and they are — why not do something fun and new and exciting?