Our ongoing quest, in the manner of a noble knight-errant, is to assign cool nicknames to players rather than indulge in the tired, lamewad paradigm of assigning cool players nicknames. Before we launch the latest installment, however, a trip through our Hall of Honouur, which is so stately, so regal, so much itself a celebration of the Norman Conquest, that an extra British-English unstressed “u” is required for proper spelling. …
“Bad Miracle” – Wily Mo Peña
“Captain Black Tobacco” – John Danks
“$45 Couch” – Yuniesky Betancourt
“Liván Hernández” – Liván Hernández
“Frog in the Pot” – Carlos Zambrano
“Aqua Velva Man” – Chase Utley
“Victorian Sex Rebel” – John Axford
“Good, Round Friend” – Prince Fielder
“I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass” – Kyle Farnsworth
“Interrobang” – Adrián Beltré
“Turbaconducken” – Ty Wigginton
And the nickname now available for purchase? It’s “Hot Lettuce”!
Denotations, Connotations, Implications, Intimations, and Incriminations:
It is a landmark day in the young annals of Nickname Seeks Player: a reader contribution. Faithful page viewer Bryz, who surely has better things to do, passes along this championship explanation:
I am in the middle of student teaching right now, and I had to bring the leftover remains of a chicken Caesar salad to school for lunch. Not desiring some cold chicken, I chose to nuke my salad via microwave prior to eating it. I took the first bite of chicken… not bad! Then I moved to a Caesar dressing-covered piece of lettuce. One chew, two chews, pause, spit it back into the bowl. It was terrible. Apparently lettuce above room temperature is like drinking cold (not iced) coffee; it’s just not right.
I was telling this story to a fellow student teacher and friend of mine at the end of the day, and I explained how the salad sucked overall because of the hot lettuce. That was when I thought instantly of the “Nickname Seeks Player” posts at NotGraphs, and I felt that something I had just said would fit perfectly: “Hot Lettuce.”
Lettuce by itself is rather blah. It’s nothing outstanding by itself, and I bet no one has ever said with gusto, “I want some lettuce today!” It’s something you add, but I don’t think you’ll really miss it if it’s gone. But hot lettuce is a whole different story. It is something that is just… filthy. Nasty. Has the power to make you do a spit-take. Thus, what I am imagining in a “Hot Lettuce” type of player is someone that overall was unspectacular, but when he got hot (performance-wise, not Adrian “Don’t touch my head!” Beltre hot or Carson Cistulli-attractiveness hot), watch out! This player being hot turns him into a dominating force.
We like it. The concept of “Hot Lettuce” as a nickname, that is, not actual, foul-tasting hot lettuce.
Prototypes from Baseball’s Gauzy Past:
More from Bryz:
Players that I feel fit this description might be John Mabry. 2.1 career WAR, and 1.6 of it was amassed in his 2002 season chronicled in Moneyball. Rich Harden is another player that I like, because he’s mixed in some “meh” seasons (regular lettuce) with some great seasons (hot lettuce). There’s certainly also other, non-green wearing, non-former Athletics players that could come to mind for this nickname.
I would add: Mike Damn Laga.
Guiding, Determinative Query:
What current major-league player should be nicknamed “Hot Lettuce”?
The convention floor, which is filled with hot lettuce and used, tortured rubbers, is open for nominations …