Friday, December 9, 2011

The Return of Nicknames

So, a funny thing happened yesterday.  I had been planning on publishing a new article on the disappearance of legitimate nicknames in sports.  It was all planned out and ready to go, and then a furry of multi-sport happenings bombarded my television set.  Pujols signs with the once tiny-market Angels, Chris Paul goes to L.A. in exchange for two of their three key big men who, in previous championship seasons, were the X-factor, providing The Lakers with length that the opposition could not match, and then, shockingly, David Stern rejects the trade, citing a new part of the CBA that prevents large market organizations from pressuring small ones.  In whole, it was a day of extremes for Los Angeles and a day of emergence for small market teams everywhere (likewise, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Miami must be concerned with their future ability to make NBA transactions). 
Suddenly, my cute little article was trumped by ­actual sports news.  How can I post something that has nothing to do with the two biggest stories, aside form the end of the NBA lockout, since the conclusion of the World Series?  I could have just written a new article on the above topics, but, really, how much is there to say about that other than what I did in the first paragraph?  Pujols went to the Angels.  He was a free agent.  It  was surprising.  And the NBA incident?  I am so over complaining about the league.  Check off this brewing catastrophe as just another run-of-the-mill only-in-the-NBA moment.  I just want to see some basketball.    
Tyrann Mathieu
Now that that’s been addressed, I can finally move on my original story. 

No college football player this season has garnered more national attention than cornerback/return man, Tyrann Mathieu, aside from Andrew Luck.  The 5’8’’ sophomore is a Heisman finalist and the best defensive player in the country.  More importantly, however, he has one of sport’s rare, brilliant, non-initial based nicknames.  Known as “The Honey Badger” for his small stature, yet fearless play on the field, Mathieu is bringing a glimmer of hope into an area of sports that has been dormant for too long. 

A-Rod, K-Rod, LT, MJD, AP, D-Wade, KG, TO.  Is that really the best we can do?  Honestly, the effortless creation of nicknames is tragic.  What happen to names like The Fridge or The Bus?  Even ex-Giants quarterback, Jared “The Hefty Lefty” Lorenzen, had some merit.  Babe Ruth has more good nicknames than all modern American athletes combined.  

There are a few gems out there right now, but, for the most part, decent nicknames are virtually extinct.  Before we get into some new ones, here are the vestiges of past greatness.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU cornerback – The Honey Badger

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills quarterback – The Amish Rifle

Shaun White, professional snowboarder – The Flying Tomato

Adam Jones, professional moron (also plays defensive back when he’s not occupied with being a moron, but this is far less common) – Pacman Jones

Glen Davis, Boston Celtics forward – Big Baby.
***Note, also a LSU originated nickname. 

John Conner, New York Jets fullback – The Terminator

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions wide receiver – Megatron

There are two distinct types of good nicknames: appearance nicknames and action nicknames.  Obviously, the first type comes about because of the way a person looks (The Bus, The Fridge, The Hefty Lefty).  Action nicknames are based on something the person has done or does (The Honey Badger, The Great One).  I’ve divided them as such.  These players will be referred to as their nicknames in future articles. 

Appearance Nicknames:

Chris “The Raptor” Bosh.  Bosh is the only player in NBA history to have played on a team (Toronto Raptors) whose nomenclature reflects the species of said player (Raptor).  

A spinoff of The Raptor is women’s college basketball star, Brittany “Chris ‘The Raptor’ Bosh” Griner. 

Joe “The Eyebrow” Flacco.  It’s pretty obvious

Tayshaun “Crazy Arms” Prince has a wingspan that seems to be twice the size of his height, which, when someone is 6’9’’, is one of the strangest sights you will ever see. 

Rajon “Benjamin Button” Rondo.  Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never seen a person have certain body features that make him look elderly at such a young age. 

Action Nicknames:

Jose “The Ghost of Ozzie’s Past” Reyes.  Obviously it’s unfair to make fun of someone’s ability to speak English when it’s not their first language since most Americans can only speak English.  It’s not so much that they can’t speak it, rather, what makes Reyes and Ozzie Guillén so comically difficult to understand is that they think they can.  Slowwwww dowwwn.  Did I mention I love Ozzie?

Nene “Madonna” Hilario.  Most people just now him as Nene.  If we’re running with a single name, why not make it one even more interesting.  Just to be clear, Madonna, is a stand alone nickname (not Nene “Madonna” Hilario). 

Mark “Takeru Kobayashi” Sanchez.  The New York Jets quarterback was once videoed eating a hotdog on his sidelines.  Kobayashi is six-time world champion in competitive hotdog eating.
Mark Sanchez
Peyton “Bill Gates” Manning.  Manning is wealthy, successful, a little nerdy, and designed a computerized head coach. 

John “Whoopsie Daisy” Lackey.  Named after an expression he said a MLB leading 114 times last season (one for each earned run). 

James “Taxed Man” Harrison.  Let me tell you how it will be.  There's one for you, nineteen for me. 

Ray “Dirty Jerz” Rice.  Dirty Jerz is probably the best athlete to come out of Rutgers… ever. 

Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch.  While “beast mode” is often associated with Lynch, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard someone call him it. 

Wes “The Common Cold” Welker.  It goes around everywhere, there’s no cure, but, at the same time, it probably will never kill you.  There are illnesses way, way more dangerous.  The common cold is more of an annoyance, but if you could get rid of it altogether you would. 


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