By CHRIS ASSENHEIMER
Where have all the nicknames gone?
Baseball used to be a hot bed in the department with legendary nicknames bestowed on legendary players such as Lou Gehrig (Iron Horse), Babe Ruth (Bambino), Bob Feller (Rapid Robert), Ty Cobb (Georgia Peach), Willie Mays (The Say Hey Kid), Ted Williams (Splendid Splinter), Joe DiMaggio (Yankee Clipper), Phil Rizutto (The Scooter), Shoeless Joe Jackson and Dizzy and Daffy Dean.
Nowadays, a good nickname is a rare find, with the deterioration beginning in the 70s and 80s in the last bastion of quality monikers like â€œMr. Octoberâ€ (Reggie Jackson), â€œCharlie Hustleâ€ (Pete Rose), â€œThe Cobraâ€ (Dave Parker), â€œDoctor Kâ€ (Dwight Gooden), â€œThe Human Rain Delay (Mike Hargrove), â€œEl Presidenteâ€ (Dennis Martinez), â€œThe Wizardâ€ (Ozzie Smith), â€œBulldogâ€ (Orel Hershiser), â€œThe Mad Hungarianâ€ (Al Hrabosky), â€œThe Birdâ€ (Mark Fidrych), â€œThe Bullâ€ (Greg Luzinski) and â€œThe Boomerâ€ (George Scott).
Todayâ€™s nicknames invoke little creativity with the vast majority of them simply supplying a different version of the playersâ€™ name â€” i.e. â€œA-Rodâ€™ (Alex Rodriguez), â€œYoukâ€ (Kevin Youkilis), â€œSchillâ€ (Curt Schilling).
The Indians are one of the main culprits in the lame nickname game, employing such earth-shattering ones as â€œBirdieâ€ (Paul Byrd), â€œShoppyâ€ (Kelly Shoppach), â€œGarkâ€ (Ryan Garko) and â€œGootâ€ (Franklin Gutierrez).
Clevelandâ€™s lone dip into creativity is â€œPronkâ€ for designated hitter Travis Hafner, meaning part project, part donkey. Itâ€™s an â€œAâ€ for effort, but I think itâ€™s cheesy and far from glorifying.
Here are some other random thoughts where nicknames in todayâ€™s game are concerned, just because nobody asked:
How can Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols and Mets ace Johan Santana not have nicknames?
â€œMan-Ramâ€ for Bostonâ€™s Manny Ramirez. Are you kidding me? Every time I hear ESPNâ€™s Karl Ravech say it, I cringe and want to reach through the television set and choke the words out of him. â€œThe Baby Bull,â€ Ramirez nickname during his early days in Cleveland, is still his best.
Score a few for the modern era in â€œBig Papiâ€ (David Ortiz), â€œBig Unitâ€ (Randy Johnson), â€œBig Catâ€ (Andres Galaragga) and â€œBig Hurtâ€ (Frank Johnson), but could it have come up with a little more variety than â€œBig-something?â€
â€œThe Rocketâ€ for Roger Clemens was a pretty good one too, until we found out what his engines were fueled by.
How about Barry Bonds, baseballâ€™s home run king*? Nothing. Ditto for the previous single-season record holder*, Mark McGwire. That doesnâ€™t seem fair. How about â€œJail Birdâ€ Bonds and â€œSir Juicealotâ€ for McGwire?
Left-handed reliever Tony Sipp, a former rising prospect, has begun his road back from Tommy John surgery in July of last year. He had appeared in three games for the Indiansâ€™ Gulf Coast League in Winter Haven, Fla., through Thursday, pitching four shutout innings without allowing a hit, while striking out four. â€¦ LHP David Huff, a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2006 draft (39th overall), has not looked out of place since his promotion to the Triple-A Buffalo rotation. Heâ€™s 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA in five starts after going 5-1 with a 1.92 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) for Double-A Akron. â€¦ The Indians media relations staff mistakenly had Class A Kinston right-hander Luis Perdomo, not RHP Hector Rondon, as their lone representative in the upcoming Futures Game (as part of All-Star festivities). Maybe it should have been Perdomo after all. As Kinstonâ€™s closer, Perdomo, a non-drafted free-agent acquisition in 2003, went 3-1 with a 0.92 ERA in 31 games, converting 18 of his 23 save opportunities before being promoted to Akron this week.
Assenheimer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-329-7137.