In a piece from yesterday’s Times, John Branch documents — and, one might accurately say, mourns — the disappearance of great nicknames from American sport.
On one level, Branch’s point stands so far as baseball is concerned: relative to generations past, fewer current players today possess colorful sobriquets. There’s Kung Fu Panda, obviously — along with Big Papi and Pronk and some others — but the data show that a lower percentage of players have nicknames.
Branch, however, fails to make a distinction, it seems. For while, yes, there are fewer well-known baseballing nicknames, it’s come to the attention of our Investigative Reporting Investigation Team that, instead of disappearing, the art of nicknaming has merely gone underground. In fact, it appears as though the practice is as robust as ever.
“It makes sense,” said a totally credentialed psychologist who preferred to remain nameless, “that, as media more completely documents and pervades the lives of players, that they would develop mechanisms for fostering a team spirit. The secret nickname is one such device.”
With that, we present here — for the first time ever — some secret nicknames from around the majors. In most cases, there are no explanations for the names — although many of them are self-explanatory.
Casey Blake: Business Time
Ryan Doumit: Pizza Butt
J.D. Drew: Jimmy Smiles
Adam Dunn: Sexual Chocolate**
Adam Jones: Quinoa Jones
Jason Kendall: Uncle Stinky
Carlos Marmol: Prison Shank Marmol
Mike Stanton: Leopard Pants
Ryan Theriot: Merde Hands
* This is a bit embarrassing, actually: when Nationals GM Mike Rizzo acquired Todd Coffey, he actually thought it was Heath Bell he was getting.
** Dunn, apparently, just showed up at the Sox’ spring-training camp and demanded to be called “Sexual Chocoloate.”
Tip of the double-flapped batting helmet to my old, and now totally famous, friend David Modigliani.