September 2, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
71°F

Nicknames make me very happy

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 “Mr. October” (Reggie Jackson), “Charlie Hustle” (Pete Rose), “The Cobra” (Dave Parker), “Doctor K” (Dwight Gooden), “The Human Rain Delay (Mike Hargrove), “El Presidente” (Dennis Martinez), “The Wizard” (Ozzie Smith), “Bulldog” (Orel Hershiser), “The Mad Hungarian” (Al Hrabosky), “The Bird” (Mark Fidrych), “The Bull” (Greg Luzinski) and “The Boomer” (George Scott).

Today’s nicknames invoke little creativity with the vast majority of them simply supplying a different version of the players’ name — i.e. “A-Rod’ (Alex Rodriguez), “Youk” (Kevin Youkilis), “Schill” (Curt Schilling).

The Indians are one of the main culprits in the lame nickname game, employing such earth-shattering ones as “Birdie” (Paul Byrd), “Shoppy” (Kelly Shoppach), “Gark” (Ryan Garko) and “Goot” (Franklin Gutierrez).

Cleveland’s lone dip into creativity is “Pronk” for designated hitter Travis Hafner, meaning part project, part donkey. It’s an “A” for effort, but I think it’s cheesy and far from glorifying.

Here are some other random thoughts where nicknames in today’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?

“Man-Ram” for Boston’s Manny Ramirez. Are you kidding me? Every time I hear ESPN’s Karl Ravech say it, I cringe and want to reach through the television set and choke the words out of him. “The Baby Bull,” Ramirez nickname during his early days in Cleveland, is still his best.

Score a few for the modern era in “Big Papi” (David Ortiz), “Big Unit” (Randy Johnson), “Big Cat” (Andres Galaragga) and “Big Hurt” (Frank Johnson), but could it have come up with a little more variety than “Big-something?”

“The Rocket” for Roger Clemens was a pretty good one too, until we found out what his engines were fueled by.

How about Barry Bonds, baseball’s home run king*? Nothing. Ditto for the previous single-season record holder*, Mark McGwire. That doesn’t seem fair. How about “Jail Bird” Bonds and “Sir Juicealot” for McGwire?

 

Minor details

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 Indians’ Gulf Coast League in Winter Haven, Fla., through Thursday, pitching four shutout innings without allowing a hit, while striking out four. … 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. He’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. … 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 Kinston’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 cassenheimer@chroniclet.com or 440-329-7137.