cliff lee

Ballplayer Aliases: What’s Your Real Name?

heyward

I recently came across a list of MLB players on the Internet that listed players by their full names.  I thought some of these were interesting, so I’m listing some of these below:

Don’t Call Me David

David ‘Bud’ Norris
David ‘Homer’ Bailey
David Adam Laroche

Laroche’s brother Andrew also played in the majors.  I always thought that the Laroches were named alliteratively, and that if there were more younger Laroche siblings that also played baseball, their names would be something like Amos, Alan, Ajax and Azrael.  I am slightly disappointed that this is not the case.

Homer Bailey has the worst name for a pitcher ever.  He must really hate being called Dave.

Don’t Call Me Robert

Robert Allen ‘R.A.’ Dickey
Robert Alex Wood
Robert Andrew ‘Drew’ Stubbs
Robert Chase Anderson

No one named Robert goes by ‘Bob’ or ‘Bobby’ anymore.  I miss Bobby Higginson.  There aren’t any active Bobs in the majors, other than Bobby Abreu.  But his legal name is actually Bob, not Robert.  Abreu could instead go by his middle name, ‘Kelly’.  Johnny Cueto’s middle name is ‘Brent’.  I find it hard to believe that the birth certificates of Venezuelan Abreu and Dominican Cueto really say ‘Bob Kelly’ and ‘Johnny Brent’.

Don’t Call Me James

James Anthony ‘J.A.’ Happ
James Brian Dozier
James Gordon Beckham III
James Evan Gattis

Happ goes by ‘J.A.’, which is apparently pronounced like “Jay”.  In other words, the ‘A’ is silent.  So Happ should actually go in his own category: “Don’t Call Me James and Don’t Call Me J.A.”

Unless Gordon Beckham’s great-grandfather was a huge comic books fan, Beckham’s name probably has nothing to do with James Gordon of Batman fame.  But at the least, we probably should start referring to Beckham as “Commissioner Gordon”.  On second thought, Bud Selig would never stand for that.

Shorter Is Better

Maxwell Scherzer
Tomaso Milone
Colbert Hamels
Clifton Lee

I know someone who named their kid ‘Max’.  Just Max, not short for anything.  At first, I thought this was kind of odd, because isn’t Max usually short for something?  But what is Max short for?  Maximilian?  Maximus?  Maximum?  In Scherzer’s case, it’s Maxwell.  Regardless of the choice, there is absolutely no chance that your kid would ever be called anything but ‘Max’.   So might as well do away with all those bothersome extraneous letters at the end.

Clifton Lee sounds like someone who could have been a lesser-known general in the Confederate army, perhaps a distant cousin of Robert E. Lee.  And if Robert E. Lee played major league baseball today, since no one goes by just ‘Robert’ anymore, he’d be known as Marbles Lee, utility infielder extraordinaire for the Atlanta Braves.

The Ones You Probably Already Knew

Covelli ‘Coco’ Crisp
Carsten Charles ‘CC’ Sabathia
Gerald ‘Buster’ Posey
Melvin Emanuel ‘B.J.’ Upton

If you haven’t heard it mentioned before, Upton’s name stands for “Bossman Junior”, his father being Bossman.  Bossman Junior is a pretty sweet name.  But like how the usage of the nickname ‘Dick’ for persons named Richard has fallen into disfavor over the years, the use of the moniker ‘B.J.’ is doomed, for obvious reasons.  I find it hard to believe that anyone else nicknamed B.J. will be able to make it through the gauntlet of middle school, high school, college and a baseball clubhouse unscathed any time soon.  So enjoy having Upton around while you still can (and, given his play over the last couple of years, IF you still can).  It might be the last BJ you get for the foreseeable future.

Most Confusing Middle Name

Jason Alias Heyward

When Heyward first came up with the Braves, people for some reason thought his middle name was ‘Adenolith’.  According to Heyward, his real middle name is ‘Alias’ (a variation of the name Elias) and he has no idea where ‘Adenolith’ came from.  Adenolith is not a real word.  I guess it sounds impressive and massive because it sounds sort of like monolith; but for the most part, it is a bunch of random letters mashed together.  How people once thought that Jason A. Heyward’s middle name was ‘Adenolith’ is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time.

That being said, his real middle name presents its own set of issues:

Customer service rep:  And, sir, what’s your middle name?
Jason Heyward:  Alias.
Rep:  No, not your alias, your middle name.
JH:  Alias.
Rep:  Your middle name is your alias?
JH:  Yes, my middle name is Alias.
Rep:  Okay, fine, I have a field for that too.  What’s your alias?
JH:  It’s my middle name.
Rep:  No, an alias is like a nickname.  Do you have any nicknames?
JH:  Adenolith.

For The WIN: Defending the ‘W’

On Opening Day, Cliff Lee got the win in an ugly 14-10 victory over the Rangers, despite giving up EIGHT earned runs in five innings.  Obviously, he did not pitch well, and statheads like to point to results like these when criticizing the win as a statistic that accurately measures pitching performance.  Some go even further, suggesting that baseball should do away with the win altogether.  I think that’s too far.  Everybody already knows that the number of wins a pitcher racks up is largely dependent on team performance and luck, so the win is already de-emphasized in most people’s minds.  How else can you explain Felix Hernandez winning the 2010 Cy Young with a 13-12 record?  But the win has its merits, particularly in a historical context.  300 wins has long been an automatic ticket to the Hall of Fame and it still should be; even if you think wins are a bit lucky, a high career win total is, at the very least, a testament to a starting pitcher’s longevity.  There’s also the continuity argument: Denny McLain was the last pitcher to win 30 games in a season, back in 1968, and this was a big deal.  Baseball, more than any other sport, is all about tradition and history.  By eradicating the win, we’d basically be saying to future generations, “Grandson, there was this guy who won 30 games back in the day.  Wait, what do you mean you don’t know what a win is?”  And MLB is all about continuity, so they’ll never get rid of the win.  People need to stop shouting at the rain.  The win, flawed as it may be, will always be around.  Deal with it.

Some hardcore fantasy baseball leagues, frustrated with the arbitrary nature of the win, have moved away from the ‘W’ as a scoring category, replacing it with quality starts or some other category.  At the same time, however, more and more fantasy leagues are moving from traditional season-long scoring formats to weekly head-to-head formats.  Head-to-head, by breaking up the season into discrete scoring blocks, keeps more people engaged throughout the season, but at the same time, also introduces a greater element of luck.  You might have the best fantasy team in the league over the course of a season, but in any given week, any team can beat any other since the sample size is so much smaller.  The best team very often doesn’t win, and it seems that more and more fantasy baseball managers are willing to sacrifice accuracy for fun.  That’s why the win is still a perfect statistic for fantasy baseball; it’s the funnest stat out there (yes, I realize that “funnest” is not a word.  But it just looks funner than “most fun”.  And I’m all about fun).  I mean, sure, we could only credit a starting pitcher for what he does during the game.  But starters only go like six or seven innings these days.  What’s the incentive to watch the rest of the game once they leave?  That’s why the win is so great; even if your pitcher throws great and leaves with the lead, you can still enjoy the roller coaster ride of seeing if the bullpen can hold the lead.  There’s no more agonizing feeling than seeing a closer blow a lead for your starting pitcher (even more so if you own the closer as well.  Ouch).  On the other side, it’s just as uplifting to see your pitcher leave the game in line for a loss, only to see the offense rally after he’s left the game to give him credit for a win.  You get to root for or against everybody, not just the players on your roster, and that’s just fun.  And isn’t that what fantasy baseball is about?  Fun for the win.

This Will Escalate Quickly

Last night on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, the Cliff Lee – Chris Carpenter duel turned out to be an absolute beauty of a game. (I love pitchers’ duels.) Entering the 8th inning, Lee had a no-hitter going and Carpenter had finally settled down and was pitching strong. Now, Lee lost the no-hitter in the top of the 8th to that little piece of sh*t Yadier Molina. Which was fine, because you can never assume a no-hitter, these are major league hitters after all.  Then, in the bottom of the 8th, misanthropic manager Tony Larussa decided to lift Carpenter after only 89 pitches. 89 pitches!! This was an AL park, so he wasn’t lifted for a pinch hitter, and he certainly wasn’t laboring as he had breezed through the 6th and the 7th.  Now, never mind the fact that I owned both of these pitchers in my fantasy league and needed one or both of them to throw complete games to win my matchup (yeah, that’s not contributing to my rage at all).  But it really really bugs me when starting pitchers get pulled early from scintillating pitching duels.  I don’t know if anyone has ever heard me rant about Tony Larussa but this guy is a terrible human being. No one on his team likes him. He’s not even a good manager, he’s just a lucky bastard. His moves make no logical sense, they just happen to work out because he’s a lucky bastard. He’s strange, moody, quirky and friendless. He’s ugly. I hate this son of a bitch. I once bought a book by Buzz Bissinger because it was a baseball book by an author I had heard of, but it turned out to be a disguised Tony Larussa biography and a piss poor one at that. I shit you people not, I actually threw this book away because I was so disgusted by the poor quality of writing and the manifest unlikeability of this horrible human being, Tony Larussa.

Seriously, what is it with the f*cking Cardinals? The worst “good” manager in history in Tony Larussa, the worst World Series “champion” in history in the 2006 Cards (and that is a FACT, I am not kidding or exaggerating, I admit that there is some opinion and bias in this rant but this part is absolutely incontrovertible) and the worst “good” player in the history of the universe in Ozzie F*cking Smith. Burn in hell, all of you.