What's in a name? A lot of creativity once upon a time
I’m watching the ball games last night and I’m hearing all about ARod this and ARod that and I’m figuring we, as a people, have given up on good nicknames.
Boring, entirely boring.
And with the voice of a friend who thinks Catfish might be one of the best nicknames ever roiling around the brain, and recalling an esoteric mention of an obscure nickname the other night, I’ve come to the conclusion that baseball, old time baseball, had the greatest collection of nicknames in sport history.
Maybe it was a more creative time, maybe there was less political correctness, maybe it was just more fun to come up with cool names than to simply know people by initials or adding a “y” to their last night.
My top 10?
Jim (Catfish) Hunter
Sure it was fake and a product of Charlie Finley’s marketing mind but it is indeed pretty cool. Besides, who doesn't like a nice piece of blackened catfish?
Yeah I know. Obvious but still ..
Fred (Bonehead) Merkle
Guy makes one critical and crucial mistake and has to go through the rest of his life known as “Bonehead?” That’s cold. Funny, but cold.
Sal (The Barber) Maglie
The guy was born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and I’ve played games on fields named after him. Never got thrown at, though, which is how he became The Barber ‘cause he’d “shave” hitters.
Lou Gehrig, The Iron Horse
Now I use to more facetiously for those who might play through too much pain (insert obligatory shot at whatever soft Raptor you wish) it’s pretty cool.
Smoky Joe Wood
Dude threw hard, had nothing to do with fresh air.
Cool Papa Bell
So quick he could flip the switch and be in bed before the room got dark.
Branch Rickey, The Mahatma
Smart, and very religious. Effective combination.
The Fordham Flash Frankie Frisch
Today, that might be the name of a Super Hero.
Ted Williams, The Splendid Splinter
Only because he might be close to the top of The Greatest Hitter Ever list and the John Updike New Yorker essay that could be the best sports writing ever.
There are dozens, if not hundreds more (Shoeless Joe, Charlie Hustle, Mr. October, The Say Hey Kid, The Yankee Clipper), but those might be on the top of my list.
What have you got?
Oh, and the Raptors?
I can think of two worth mentioning and with any level of creativity.
Boogie for Alvin Williams and The Big Kitchen for John Thomas. I guess Mighty Mouse would be a close third. And if I find the guy who first called Oliver Miller The Big O, he and I are going to have to have a very serious chat. Sacrilege.
Guess I missed some big debate last night?
The Second-In-Commands south of us?
Too bad but I keep hearing the old guy might have schooled the young guy and being an old guy, I’m all for that.
And I also notice that I’ll be in Oklahoma City covering a game on U.S. election night, wonder what that’ll be like?
Please. We might have some game stuff tomorrow morning -- not an awful lot, it still is the pre-season – but we’ll need some questions and we haven’t been inundated.
You know the drill, right?
Right. The Raptors.
Well, a ho-hum day yesterday, going over the mistakes of the night before, trying to put some more offence in now that Valanciunas is fully ready and then some media obligations for the organization that I assure you they all loved like puppy dogs and rainbows.
In other words, a rather slow day in the middle of a pre-season that’s about two weeks long.
But I know the one thing Dwane was hammering home more than any other: Improvement on defence.
As we’ve mentioned a couple of times, there’s been some slippage from last year and I know that can’t be sitting well with the coach.
No reason to sound the alarms, they’re two games into a two-game pre-season and there are about two weeks worth of practice days left.
But listening him post-game the other night in Detroit, there was no question he was miffed and it’s time to really buckle down.
“What was it? 99 points? That’s plenty of points, plenty of points. We’ve got to cut down on the 50 per cent defensive field goal percentage, that’s my biggest concern.”
Are the baseball playoffs the best playoffs in all of pro sports?
Gotta say yes.
Hardly any days off, every game takes on its own character and more drama – usually – than you can shake a stick at and if this past week hasn’t been the best in recent memory and doesn’t prove that point, I’m not sure what would.
You’ve had game-winning extra-inning homers and ninth-inning heroics and great offensive games and every time Justin Verlander pitches we all need to watch. It’s been wonderful, compelling, dramatic theatre day after day after day and you cannot get that in any other sport.
It’s been so good it’s almost been tiring. You sit and watch three dramatic at-bats late in the San Francisco-Cincinnati game and get worn out mentally and then Jason Werth wins a game in the bottom of the night and you take a deep breath and think, wow, what a day.
Then the Yankees and Orloles go 13 innings with the inherent ARod drama and it’s almost too much until you see the masterful Verlander throw a complete game, series-winning shutout that was one of those “sit back kids, I’ll win this one for you” moments that make sports special. You’ve got four Division Series all going the full five games and I cannot see how the league championship series or World Series can match the overall drama of the last week. Hope they do; can’t see how it’s possible.