Situational Essay: Nicknames

Old friend Kenneth “The Page”  Morgan chimes in to help us through the January doldrums with a nice semi-HOF related post.

I’m a sucker for nicknames and I’m very liberal when it comes to these attachments. While others may groan after Chris Berman reaches for yet another potential gem, I eat it up every time. While doing some Edgar Martinez Hall of Fame research I came to the realization that our current pool of sluggers and hurlers are grossly under-represented in the nickname department.

If you take a walk down Hall of Fame lane you’ll notice many of the members have one thing in common: at least one nickname. Browsing the list of current stars, I couldn’t help but wonder ‘Where’s the Beef?’ Albert “The Machine” Pujols, Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval, and Kevin “The Greek God of Walks” Youkilis are all very fitting choices. But why haven’t we addressed many of the other probable future legends of this era? Joe Mauer, Ichiro, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley are a few examples of those left out. _(Now that I think about it, maybe we should just officially adopt the example from Rogue’s Baseball Index and refer to him as “The Joe Mauer” (ed note: that plug was completely unsolicited). Do we need to wait until late in their careers before we can properly Knight our heroes?

Let’s look at a few trends:

1) Alliterations always aids (Joltin’ Joe, Hammerin’ Hank, Sultan of Swat, The Splendid Splinter)

2) The goofier the better (The Bird, Spaceman, Yogi, El Guapo)

3) Robust phrases (The Big Unit, Nails, The Iron Horse, The Rocket, Death to Flying Things)

To properly preserve the legacy of players from this era we need to pick up the pace with naming. Although I can tolerate nicknames in many form, I cringe when I hear Hanley Ramirez referred to as “H-Ram”, or Jimmy Rollins as “J-Roll”. This is the ultimate in laziness and we cannot settle on these choices. There’s a reason we don’t hear “T-Will” attached to Ted Williams; it just sounds silly.

I have a few ideas of my own. Brian Bannister would make a good “SABR-tooth Tiger”. As for my favorite player, sure “Gar” and “Papi” are decent options but I feel like I should channel my inner George Costanza and we should now call Edgar Martinez “Eleven”.

Discussion Questions:

1) What are some of your favorite nicknames?

2) Have you created any nicknames for current players?

3) How worried are you about the lack of nicknames in today’s game?

14 Responses to “Situational Essay: Nicknames”

  • I thought Lincecum was The Freak? And Mauer is just one of the second-generation M&M boys. Though I suppose only ripping off past generations’ nicknames is not a good long-term strategy. Ichiro is a special case because he’s referred to by his first name (in the ordinal sense and not the “given name” sense), I think.

    I hadn’t noticed this plight, so it hadn’t worried me. I wonder if fan groups are more fragmented now, and nicknames that function more as inside jokes among a small group are more pervasive than widespread nicknames? In our house, the running joke is “That’s /Mr./ Derek Jeter to you!”

  • I tend to agree re: Ichiro. He is above nicknames. He is just Ichiro.

  • I’m partial to Dan the Man Wilson

  • By far my all-time favorite nickname is 90’s Seattle slugger Jay Buhner’s. Simply- ‘Bone’. Not ‘The Bone’, just ‘Bone’. As in, “Did you see that whopper Bone hit to left field? He must be juicin’!” Or, “Bone struck out 4 times today? Bummer.”

    I’m partial to pitcher nicknames that imply the pitcher is dolling out a form of righteous justice with each strikeout. Like Norm Charleton as ‘The Sheriff’. Or closer David Aardsma’s ‘The D.A’. I’m not totally sure if this qualifies for a nickname because it’s just his initials, but it certainly gives Seattle colorman Mike Blowers a ton of courtroom/closer comparisons to work with. “Case closed- The D.A. saves another one.”

    For my money, the biggest downfall in today’s nicknames comes in the crew department. What happened to group nicknames like ‘The Nasty Boys’ and ‘The Bash Brothers’? The lack of crew nicknames can be directly related to the crackdown on steroids. You don’t have whole bullpens passing the stuff around and consequently dominating from the mound. Are there some current group nicknames and I just can’t think of them?

    Bring back the juice bring back the great nicknames, that’s what I say.

  • Always liked ‘The Spaceman” for Bill Lea. And “The Candy Man” for John Cadelaria.

  • Forgot ‘El Presidente” Dennis Martinez.

  • Though far from a top-flight player, I’ve heard Matt Herges called “Hergie-pie,” which I always found amusing.

  • Agreed on “Spaceman,” Paul. That’s the perfect nickname, describing both his personality and his playing style. What if we used today’s method and nicknamed him BLee. What a loss to culture that would be.

    It goes without saying that the finest nicknames come from yesteryear. Nothing in the last 50 years has come close to “The Say Hey Kid.”

    Another question: why do the best players of yesteryear have the best nicknames? Were the most deserving repaid with the most poetic, or were there just that many great nicknames going around?

  • I think “the Sandman” is pretty good. Nothing wrong with “the Big Hurt.” Also, Ichiro’s name sometimes appears with an exclamation when written, and seeing “Ichiro!” even in mundane surrounding discussion always brings a smile to my face for some reason. It’s like its own brand name. In Reds circles, we have two names for Bronson Arroyo – “Goodroyo” and “Badroyo” to describe how he pitched in that particular game (because there is no in-between). Descriptive and versatile. A lot of people like “Pronk,” though I can’t see why. “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” is good. David “Just Enough” Eckstein is great, mainly because I dislike him, I think. “Slammin’ Sammy” is one that sounds like it came straight from the bygone era. “Da Meat Hook” is great too – Dmitri Young.

    I don’t think there’s anything to the notion that nicknames were so much better in the old days. They were more widespread, but I wouldn’t say better.

  • Oh, and Reds fans had about 50 nicknames for Corey Patterson during his tenure there, but none of them are fit for print. You can trust that many were very visually descriptive.

    While I’m on the Reds, “Big Donkey” is a pretty funny one.

    and “Fat Elvis” is funny for sure. OK I’m done…I think.

  • as a dodger fan i think casey “the foundation” blake is awsome,i refer to matt “hemp” kemp,or even adam “roachclip” laroach.i guess its something that comes in time by the players in the clubhouse a good solid fan base or ever just some creative media personallty to finally come up with something that sticks to a player.but i am concerned about alot of the unimagintive ones going around the mlb.

  • Okay, Matt Kemp is “The Buffalo” this is well-known and awesome. He’s so large for a center fielder that it fits perfectly. I would like to propose Chad “dolla dolla” Billingsley y’all. Just because Chad Billingsley looks like he never listened to hip hop once in his life.

  • Well, technically Kemp is The Bison, I think. But I like “dolla dolla” for Chad.

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