Thursday, February 28, 2008

Glossary of Gloss

In the process of my analysis of all things Tribe, I often refer to players by nicknames that have evolved over the few years that I have spent putting my thoughts about the Indians on paper, so to speak. One of the results of this is that readers are sometimes confused as I don’t specifically refer to players by the name on their birth certificate (not meant as a dig on Mr. Peralta) unless they realize that The BLC is actually Shin-Soo Choo…that the Fist of Steel is Rafael Betancourt…and so on. Of course, other readers (allegedly) only read FOR the nicknames, so it is a practice not likely to expire any time soon.

So with that in mind, I figure that it would be a nice public service to provide some sort of glossary of names for the Tribe players that I often use and, if it is not blatantly obvious, the rationale or the evolution of the nickname:
Grady Sizemore

Still the gold standard of nicknames that I have bestowed here as the Indians actually ran a promotion last year, complete with Grady in a cape catching a ball, called the “SuperSizemore” bobblehead. Originally meant as a twist on Morgan Spurlock’s “SuperSize Me”, Grady’s emergence as a star brought new meaning to the name.

Asdrubal Cabrera

Pretty self-explanatory of this one, even if people aren’t thrilled with it’s A-Rod-esque unoriginality. Also in the hopper - Drooby Droob Droob (think Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”), Droobs, and AssDribble (which is what my grandmother truly thought his name was during the playoffs last year, abhorrent to the idea that they could say that on TV).

Victor Martinez
Vic the Stick

Stan the Man, Wilt the Stilt…you get the idea

Travis Hafner

Bill Selby will forever live in Indians’ lore for bestowing this nickname on The Sykestown Slammer (an homage to Hafner’s hometown in North Dakota), even if some people feel that there is a deeper meaning, further than simply half-project half-donkey. Maybe THIS is the one my grandma should be concerned about being uttered so frequently on TV.

Ryan Garko

Still takes too long to type, but serial poster Cy Slapnicka has been championing this one since Gonnie Garko hit Canal Park. The other ones that will occasionally make the rounds are Gark the Shark, Ryan Garkovich (think Julia Roberts and hexavalent chromium), and Garkomel (The DiaBride’s favorite, as she feels that the right side of the infield should be known as Gargamel and Asrael).

Jhonny Peralta

For as much as you would think a player who has spent three full years as the everyday shortstop with a misspelled first name, Peralta doesn’t have that one definitive nickname and is usually just referred to by his given name (perhaps it is that misspelling). Honey remains the best nickname I’ve got as I truly thought that the “J” could be the silent letter as Peralta climbed the minor-league ladder.

Casey Blake
The Jaw/The Beard

Depending upon his grooming patterns, Blake remains defined by the squareness of his jaw and what foliage takes up space on it. While some have suggested Lacey Cake (which has a “Caddyshack” feel to it) or even a return to Kasey Blake (he worked hard to get that K out of there), I’m sticking with a reference to the Wichita State alum’s mandible.

Andy Marte
The Dominican Dandy or AAAAndy MAAAArte

2008 will go a long way to determining if Marte is able to shed the AAAA player tag (get it, 4 A’s in Andy and Marte) that some seem determined to attach to him or if he’s finally able to realize the potential that we all thought was possible just a few Januarys ago.

Jason Michaels/David Dellucci

One of the more popular platoon amalgamations (particularly after Benuardo headed to the Pacific Northwest), the 2 players combine to form one outfielder. If referenced individually, the likely names would include Jason the Wet (how is his hair ALWAYS wet?) or The Looch (not Arnold Jackson’s nemesis in “Diff’rent Strokes – that was The Gooch).

Franklin Gutierrez
Frank the Tank

Will Ferrell’s beer-bonging, Kansas-singing, tranquilizer-dart-to-the-neck character from “Old School” finds a place in RF at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. For purposes of brevity, it could be Gutz. For purposes of levity, it could be Franklin Delano Gutierrez or Franklin Comes Alive (which makes no sense, unless you’re down with “Arrested Developmen”…and if you’re not, you should be).

Kelly Shoppach

C’mon, the guy’s a catcher, is short and squatty, and pretty functional.

Shin-Soo Choo
Big League Choo

A creation of serial poster rodells, this is the nickname most universally accepted around the web, along with its abbreviated cousin, The BLC. Truthfully, I haven’t seen anyone refer to the South Korean OF as anything BUT Big League Choo in about a year.

Ben Francisco
The Frisco Kid

Along with The Ben Francisco Treat, it’s pretty rare to see Francisco referred to as anything BUT these two nicknames. Minor League guru John Sickels bestowed the name Generalissimo, in reference to the former Spanish dictator of the mid-20th century, but I’m sticking with the lighthearted turns for the player who sticks his tongue out like a little kid while hitting.

C.C. Sabathia
The Crooked Cap

So many to choose from, so little time to administer them. The Hefty Lefty, aCCE, Captain Curveball, The Big Fella…we could go on all day. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the day that we can complain about the hat that C.C. is wearing cockeyed being our own.

Fausto Carmona
The Faustastic One

While El Diablo made a strong run (remember, a Faustian dilemma is a Deal with the Devil) when Fausto burst onto the scene, his sterling performance at the top of the Tribe rotation merited the creation of a new adjective.

Jake Westbrook
Jake the Snake

Admittedly not too original for the always steady, somewhat vanilla, sinkerballing RHP and in no way a reference to the WWF wrestler who carried Damien around in a sack. Of course, “The Two Jakes”, “Jake and the Fatman”, “Jake in Progress”, “Jake Braking”, and other references pepper titles to articles about Westbrook; but nothing that’s ever stuck by way of a regular moniker.

Paul Byrd

Like Westbrook, Byrd has never really had a gloss that stuck to him…at least that can be printed in a family-friendly environment. Since I’m no ornithologist, I’m not sure what Byrd is efficient and functional, but ultimately not very pretty while performing its job. If you are a license ornithologist, I’d be much obliged for a suggestion.

Cliff Lee
Mr. Five and (f)Lee

A variation on the old “Five and Fly” reference to a starting pitcher that logs five innings and exits the game with a lead, leaving the rest of the game to the bullpen. A rather derogatory notion as the pitcher gets credit for the win despite pitching just over ½ of the game…but a 6.29 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP will bring some venom out.

Jeremy Sowers
Whiskey Sowers

Still looking like he should be an intern at some accounting firm, not able to buy a drink at a bar without heavy questioning, the nickname is obviously meant to be tongue in cheek. That is, unless Sowers developed a taste for The Old No. 7 while in Nashville as a Commodore at Vanderbilt. The Jack Daniels’ plant in Lynchburg is only about an hour and a half away…

Aaron Laffey
Laffey Taffy

Holding off getting too overly optimistic about the young LHP yet, I’ll keep “The Babyfaced Bulldog” in my pocket until he’s pitched more than 50 innings at the ML level. However, the 4 2/3 IP in Game 6 of the ALCS, when he held the Red Sox lineup scoreless (which nobody else could do at that point) lends credence to that baby face belying a bulldog mentality.

Adam Miller
Atom Miller

Um…this one’s pretty obvious, though it does always make me think of the Rainier Wolfcastle portrayal of “Radioactive Man” on “The Simpsons”, who can’t say the hero’s tagline, “Up and Atom” because he keeps saying “Up and At Them”. High comedy.

Brian Slocum
Smoke ‘em Brian Slocum

Listed if for no other reason than to declare that the “Smoke ‘em Brian Slocum Watch” is over.

Joe Borowski
The Big Borowski

Thanks to the genius of the Coen Brothers’ bowling story being in heavy rotation onFLIX, I’m not going “out of my element”, as Donnie might be prone to, with this one. Obviously, JoeBo has evolved as the quick and easy way to refer to the Tribe closer (with its close cousin JoeBlo), but anything that reminds me to have a White Russian is going to get a lot of love.

Rafael Betancourt
Fist of Steel

One of my favorite all-time nicknames, Fist of Steel, it goes in concert with Rafael Perez’s Fist of Iron as the brilliant take on the song “16 Tons”, which exclaims, “If you see me coming, better step aside. A lot of men didn’t and a lot of men died. One Fist of Iron, the other of Steel; if the left one doesn’t get you, then the right one will”. Serial poster Tyler gets full credit for that one, making my Senor Slo-Mo (sadly) pale in comparison.

Rafael Perez
Fist of Iron

See Betancourt, Rafael.
Substitute Senor Slo-Mo with The Scarecrow and…we’re done.

Jensen Lewis

This has been a recent bestowal as I can’t figure out how to capitalize on the fact that there is a furniture store in NYC named Jensen-Lewis. No, seriously.

Tom Mastny
Nasty Boy

Born in Indonesia and sometimes going by the name of The Mastnicator, Nasty Boy Tom Mastny has a certain ring to it, particularly because he looks like a 12-year-old with a hat that’s three sizes too big for his head when he’s innocently looking in a sign.

Hopefully this little exercise was helpful in identifying some of the shorthand that I use in different pieces. I know that some of the players weren’t included, but some of the guys I know too little about to assign them a nickname (Kobayashi, Carroll); while others just don’t interest me at all (Fultz).

Always a pleasure to hear Hammy and Hegan on the radio, as they were today, announcing Grapefruit League action. It provides yet another sign of Spring, regardless of how my back feels after shoveling far too many times over the last few days.


Anonymous said...

If referenced individually, the likely names would include Jason the Wet (how is his hair ALWAYS wet?)

As the resident female (I'm sure there are others, I just felt like saying that) I feel I can answer this one.

In the 80's, there was a trend in hairstyles where the ideal was to look as if you were perpetually just getting out of the shower. In order to attain this, products were employed that helped the wearer gain that "just towel-dried my hair" look, one of which was appropriately named WET. Perhaps J-Mike is a long time fan of such products?

I feel I should mention that where I grew up (St. Louis), it was mostly a fad amongst people with a crimson hue to their necklines.

Deaner said...

I have to give kudos to anyone who is able to work in a Smurfs reference.

Chris said...

Nice rundown, but the big fella from Stanford should be Gonnie Garko.

Jay said...

As the proud author of at least two of those nicknames, let me offer this critique of your list ...

SuperSizemore -- hamfisted. We've got to do better than this.

Vic the Stick -- I like it, but can it really beat out V-Mart? How about simply The Victor? Sort of an anti-nickname.

Garko -- no nickname relating to power-hitting makes sense for him, which knocks out both your idea and Gonnie Garko, although that one is fun. We need to come up with something related to his essential nature as a grinder.

Honey -- What's wrong with J-Ho? Or for that matter, Fat Shortstop?

Blake -- nice.

Marte -- I laughed.

Francisco -- I like yours, but you have to realize that Generalissimo is lighthearted, because people don't think of the dictator, they think of Chevy Chase announcing that he's "still dead" every week on Weekend Update.

Byrdman -- How can you not adopt The Cobra?

Sowers, Laffey -- okay, but can't we do better.

Atom Miller -- your classic. We'll make it stick.

Jensen Lewis -- you want a furniture reference? How about Ottoman?

Jay said...

Oh, one more thing. I maintain that Fausto does not need a nickname, because his name is Fausto. There is nothing better we will ever come up with than simply ... Fausto. Think on it.

Paul Cousineau said...

I tend to shy away from from the bland A-Rod mash-ups like V-Mart (I hate that one) or J-Ho.

The Ottoman is where I ended up with Lewis too, maybe credenza...but it seemed like too much of a stretch.

Which of these two of these are you the author of? I do like to give credit where it is due.

Voltaire said...

Same for Asdrubal as Fausto. His name is Asdrubal. 'Nuf said.

Jay said...

I kind of like Credenza, in part because it rhymes with cadezna, but hardly anybody would get that. In general I feel that something random (Pronk, The Cobra) works better than something obvious, especially if the obvious thing has nothing to do with the player other than his name (75 awkward plays on Fausto/Faustus).

Nickname coining is easy to claim, harder to prove ...

AstroCab originated in a main-page poll I put up within one day of the trade (6/30/06). Note comments here from later that night.

Big League Choo showed up the same way and immediately became the BLC that same day in this story (7/29/06). It was endorsed by Monsignor Castrovince the following week.

Dellichaels was first mentioned in this thread (1/17/07) ... and promptly endorsed by no less an authority than ... you.

I do like the nicknames, but nobody bats 1000, you know?

Jay said...

I think we can make The Ottoman stick. And should.

Rockdawg said...

Nice job PTC, and don't change the "standards" that we've been using for years (Vic the Stick, SuperSizemore etc..) Large props to the DiaBride, as Gargamel and Asrael is very nice work. I still like "Haf-Pipes" (in reference to his arms), but it is hard to argue with a nickname as universally excepted as Pronk. There's got to be clever name out there for Fultz, based on the fact that he doesn't bend his elbow while pitching.


g-rod said...

Kobayashi -- how about "Cup o' Coffee" (channeling The Usual Suspects...)

Paul Cousineau said...

I’m with you on Just Asdrubal as I would like to see him someday evolve into that Indian that needs only one name – in the vein of Manny, Kenny, some other Venezuelan SS, etc.

No intent to come across as a plagiarist on this as I do tend to try to give proper credit and used the post more as a tool to explain who Fist of Iron is when the reference is made. Nicknames are a tough thing to claim as one’s own. Of course, time-stamping on the InterWeb makes things a little easier to “prove”. I always thought that Choo’s progression into the BLC came through this reference.
But at a certain point, I'm just happy that he's the BLC.

I like the Cup o’ Coffee one for Kobayshi. A reference to The Usual Suspects is much preferred over any attempt to tie in the “sport” of competitive eating.

rodells said...

Late to the party, as usual.

Love the Big League Choo linkages! I got this cool place called the Euclid Tavern where everyone can meet in the parking lot.

Aar, I still say/write Hafpipes to this day. I actually name at least one of my fantasy teams each year Hafpipes.

rodells said...

What about Nathan or Coney or C.I. for Masa? Lamage?

Jay said...

Plagiarism? Certainly not, I'm just enjoying a little pride of authorship. I never saw rodells' post, don't know if he saw mine, and couldn't say for sure which one came first. His isn't date-stamped, mine is from July 26, 10:56 p.m. It may well be that his was posted first. Unless he says otherwise, my best guess is that we just both thought of the same thing.

Anonymous said...

If Kobayashi isn't "Death Ball" then I just don't know what I'll do. I've been calling Jensen "Facebook" privately but I don't expect that to stick. Maybe "Stomp"? He's got that high leg kick; there's potential there. Stomp Lewis.

I was always fond of "SeƱor Slo-Mo." Or "Twitch."

My ongoing, totally baseless, one-sided feud with Aaron Fultz led me to jokingly suggest that Fultz was Yiddish for "choking relief pitcher." Somebody then told me that Yiddish infinitive for "to fold" was foltzen. He's been "The Yiddish Folder Under Pressure" to me ever since.

As for Grady, well, shoot: He's already got a superb parody of "She's a Lady" written in his honor ("He gives this team a spark and he hits it out the park much more than Lofton / Yeah, he's just like you and me, but he gets to score with pretty girls more often.") Kind of hard to nickname that, though "Faceman" wouldn't be inappropriate, and A-Team references are always welcome in my book.

I've been wary of Whiskey Sours ever since I ordered one at a very ritzy steakhouse and had it brought to me in a wine glass with extra fruit. I kind of like calling him "General Tso" -- you know, Sweet & Sowers? Plus that gets into his strategist persona, which he contends (probably rightly) is media hype.

Paul Cousineau said...

Tyler the Titan outdoes himself again. I love "Death Ball" and "General Tso". You don't want to know what Aaron Fultz thinks of you.

I think I'll put together a list of additional suggestions later this week for the ones that were sent to me via e-mail or posted as a comment.

rodells said...

Jay, not only do I have no idea who you are, I just went to your site via the links here and I've never been there. I have a few staple pages I go to and that's not one of them. Seems like coincidence to me. Thanks for stoppin' by.

rodells said...

One vote for nickname change:

Dellichaels to one of the following:


I prefer #3.


Jay said...

Uh, well, gee, Rodells, I'm sorry our little site isn't one of your staples, but we seem to be surviving without you. I've never been to the Euclid Tavern, but my guess is that LetsGoTribe is somewhat the Euclid Tavern of Indians sites. Stop by sometime and chime in.

rodells said...

Uhhh, whatever you say, Jay.

Jay said...

Are we now having a contest to see who can leave the coolest, most dismissive and aloof "last word?"

I dare you to top this one. I just dare you.