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Major League Baseball released the names that would be featured on the back on jerseys worn on Player’s Weekend from August 24-26. This is a chance for the league to show itself as “having fun” and also a chance to sell an extra and different jersey.
I’m going through all 30 teams official name list and shouting out the best ones, because most of these nicknames are not good. But each team has a couple that make up for everyone with the last name Smith being saddled with some variation of “Smitty.”
I think of myself as qualified for this discussion for two main reasons: First, all my friends call me by my last name (Rackley, in case you didn’t see the byline) or some variation of it. It happens so much that when I first went to college, it took me a while to adjust to everyone calling me Nick again. Second, I happen to be the proud owner of a Nomar Mazara “Big Chill” jersey, and I have no regrets about buying it.
Onto the nicknames!
Shohei Ohtani: “Showtime”—A fitting name for the most-hyped international signing in recent memory.
Albert Pujols: “The Machine”—I’m just a sucker for ESPN commercials.
Dallas Keuchel: “David Burd”—For those of you lacking some culture, David Burd is the given name of rapper Lil Dicky. There’s no way this is actually Keuchel’s nickname, but if this is how athletes give back to rappers for rappers shouting out athletes in their songs, then I’m all for it.
Jake Marisnick: “Big Fudge”—When I first saw this name, I thought it was a reference to Marshall from “How I Met Your Mother” (Marisnick kind of looks like Marshall, but not really). No, instead he got the nickname because when he was on the DL while with the Marlins, he ate everything he could, mostly junk food.
SMITTY ALERT: Reliever Joe Smith is the first “Smitty” to appear, but don’t you fret—he will not be the last (I believe Thanos was collecting all six Smitty gems to do something to the Avengers).
Sean Manaea: “Manaealator”—The Manaealator sounds like the death ray from a low-budget parody film, and the film they’re parodying had the Annihilator, so they had to change it to avoid copyright infringement.
Josh Phegley: “PTBNL”—PTBNL is an acronym for Player To Be Named Later, a common term used in baseball trades when one team just gets to choose a player from the other team at a later time. Phegley said he chose the name because he has a lot of different nicknames, and he went for a “nickname to be named later” which changed to “PTBNL” (for what it’s worth, Phegley might miss the weekend through injury, so here’s hoping that whoever comes up for him (if needed) keeps the nickname).
Marco Estrada: “Estradasphere”—Marco Estrada’s ERA is 4.65. Opposing batters have sent an Estrada pitch into the Estradasphere 16 times this year. Clever name, but maybe not a great one for a pitcher.
Marcus Stroman: “HDMH”—HDMH is an acronym for Height Doesn’t Measure Heart, a phrase the five-foot-eight Stroman has taken to heart all the way back from his time as Duke University, where he was an overlooked prospect (damn it, I made a short joke and I promised myself I wouldn’t).
Jimmy Nelson: “Big Sweat”—Classic example of leaning into a nickname that not a lot of people would want to have.
Eric Thames: “Mr. Tee”—Classic example of leaning into a nickname that a lot of people would want to have.
Harrison Bader: “Tots”—I hope he got this nickname because he kept tater tots in his pockets a la Napoleon Dynamite.
Michael Wacha: “Wachamole”—I don’t actually know if this is a good nickname, but it made me Google “Is Michael Wacha allergic to avocados?” (I hope he is, it would make this name 10x funnier).
Carl Edwards Jr.: “Stringbean Slinger”—The Stringbean Slinger sounds like a superhero made up by a canned goods company. I can picture it now: two kids sit at a dinner table. They play with their sad-looking vegetables. Enter the Stringbean Slinger. “Hey kids!” “It’s the Stringbean Slinger!” “That’s right kids, and I’m here to save your supper!” (Sorry, I really like alliteration). The Stringbean Slinger throws some less sad-looking vegetables (because all vegetables look sad, just some more than others) onto their plates, and the kids cheer (for some reason). Anyway, enough of that.
Cole Hamels: “Hollywood”—Hollywood Hamels sounds like a wrestler from the ‘80s. Also, alliteration.
Brad Boxberger: “🎁🍔”—Emojis of your name technically isn’t a nickname, but kudos for creativity. And having a name that’s easily broken down by emojis.
Jake Diekman: “Gut It Out”—Gut It Out refers to Diekman’s foundation of the same name, which helps people with ulcerative colitis, a disease that kept Diekman out for most of the 2017 season.
Kenley Jansen: “Kenleyfornia”—When ESPN makes a 30 for 30 on Jensen’s career, “Kenleyfornia” is definitely going to be the title.
Yasiel Puig: “Wild Horse”—Probably the most fitting nickname for a player on here (also a 0 percent chance his teammates call him “Wild Horse” to his face).
Derek Holland: “Last Name”—This is the most Derek Holland thing Derek Holland has ever done. The only way it could possibly more Derek Holland is if he said he wanted his nickname to be Last Name in a Harry Caray voice.
Hunter Pence: “Underpants”—Probably the most fitting nickname for a player on here (also a 10,000,000 percent chance his teammates call him “Underpants” to his face).
SMITTY ALERT: Pitcher Will Smith (no, not that Will Smith) is the second Smith to appear with the nickname “SMITTY” (I believe Yugi Motou was in possession of the five Exodia the Forbidden Smitty cards).
Trevor Bauer: “Bauer Outage”—Clever and punny use of a name in a nickname. Also, his Twiiter handle is @BauerOutage, so respect to the social media hustle (seriously guys, my Twitter is @RackleyNick).
Josh Tomlin: “Scrubs”—I thought this was an ode to the TV show “Scrubs” but the story is apparently Tomlin claimed that he played high school football against Adrian Peterson, and the guy he told replied, “No way, you’re a scrub.”
James Paxton: “Big Maple”—Paxton is big. And he’s Canadian. Need I say more?
Nick Vincent: “Hubba Hubba”—Extensive Googling could not give me an answer as to why his nickname is “Hubba Hubba” (If he chose it just so the announcers had to refer to him as “Hubba Hubba” then congrats Nick Vincent).
Jarlin Garcia: “Jarlin the Marlin”—His name is Jarlin. He plays for the Marlins. It rhymes. Cool.
SMITTY ALERT: Pitcher Caleb Smith is the third Smith to bear the same nickname, and it can’t be a coincidence that all three SMITTY’s so far have been pitchers (I believe Revenge of the Smith is the best Star Wars movie).
Seth Lugo: “Quarterrican”—Born and raised in Louisiana, Lugo represented Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. His grandpa being Puerto Rican made him eligible for the national team (10000 percent chance he coined this term himself and it’s so clever that of course it stuck).
SMITTY ALERT: Drew Smith is the fourth SMITTY to appear, want to guess what position he plays? Yeah, he’s a pitcher too (I believe Smithbusters should come back on TV).
Bryce Harper: “Mondo”—Apparently this nickname came from his uncle calling Harper “Mondo” and it just kinda stuck. I thought it was the name of a high school bully from an ‘80s movie.
Mark Reynolds: “Sheriff”—He’s referred to as the Sheriff of Swattingham. Fitting nickname for someone who either homers or strikes out. Also, alliteration.
Danny Valencia: “Slugger”—Slugger is what every dad refers to their kid as after their Little League game. “You’ll get ‘em next time, Slugger” or “Good game, Slugger.”
Phil Maton: “Spin Rate”—This is exactly what it sounds like: Maton’s fastball has a spin rate that puts him alongside Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander (This is like if a hitter made their nickname “Exit Velocity” or “Launch Angle”).
Austin Davis: “Big Fudge”—The second Big Fudge to appear, and because Googling couldn’t prove the origins of the nickname, I’m going with the Marshall from How I Met Your Mother reference we were deprived of with Marisnick.
Rhys Hoskins: “Big Fella” and Tommy Hunter: “Bigger Fella”—If the “Can I Copy Your Homework? Yeah just change it up a little bit so it doesn’t look obvious” meme were two nicknames.
Dovydas Neverauskas: “Lithuanian”—Neverauskas is the first player in major league history to be from Lithuania. A trait/matter of fact doesn’t necessarily qualify as a nickname, but it counts when you’re the only one who has said trait.
Felipe Vazquez: “Nightmare”—Intimidating name for a closer with 26 saves on the season. But that’s not why it’s here (even if it is good). In the off-season, Vazquez changed his last name from Rivero to Vazquez. A former last name isn’t a nickname, but it would’ve made for a helluva story.
Joey Gallo: “Pico de Gallo”—Pure masterclass in last name usage in a nickname.
Ariel Jurado: “Bartolito”—Translated to “Little Bartolo” (I think), if Jurado has anywhere near the career Colon has, he’ll be just fine.
Bartolo Colon: “Morales”—I had to include this because I need to rant: the Rangers season has been hard to watch. And there were only like two things to look forward to: Colon breaking all the records for Latin American pitchers (mostly done) and wearing a Players Weekend “Big Sexy” jersey (not done). Disappointed is an understatement.
CJ Cron: “Big Fella”—So everyone that’s a little tall has to have a “Big” in their nickname? And why is “Big Fella” the go-to for this one?
Mallex Smith: “M Effect”—The first Smith to not be saddled with SMITTY (Saddled with Smitty sounds like the name of a bad sitcom where the main character goes to college and is roomed with some dude named Smitty AND HE’S THE WORST. Don’t worry, they eventually become friends despite their differences). The M Effect is a science thing or something, I’m not really sure.
Also, Mallex Smith is an outfielder. Probably explains why he doesn’t have SMITTY (Pitchers who get named SMITTY are victim of SMITTY Syndrome).
Brock Holt: “Brockstar”—Great pun, will only truly work if his walk-up song for the weekend is “Rockstar” by Post Malone but when they say Rockstar in the song it’s actually a voiceover of Holt saying Brockstar in its place and I’m too invested in this idea, no way it actually happens :(
Chris Sale: “The Conductor”—Sale chose the Conductor because teammate Dustin Pedroia said “What does a conductor do? Punches tickets.” Sale has 207 punch-outs (as of writing), so good job by Pedroia (Also, the Conductor sounds like a generic nickname you pick for your MyPlayer in 2K).
SMITTY Alert: Pitcher Carson Smith is the fifth SMITTY to appear. I don’t even have a joke anymore, this is too exhausting (Smith is 6’5” and he couldn’t go by BIG SMITTY?????)
Joey Votto: “In Flanders Fields”—I thought this was a Simpsons reference. I couldn’t have been more wrong. “In Flanders Fields” is a war poem written by a Canadian, and I understand that “war poem written by a Canadian” is a contradiction in itself, but this is the most Joey Votto thing Joey Votto could’ve done.
Chad Bettis: “Lettuce”—I know this nickname exists probably because Bettis and Lettuce rhyme, but I like to think this exists because Bettis eats a head of lettuce before every start.
Brandon Maurer: “Maurer Power”—Maurer throws a 96 MPH fastball, so it helps that this rhyming nickname makes sense.
SMITTY ALERT: Pitcher (again!) Burch Smith is the sixth SMITTY this year. He had the opportunity to go with Burch the Lurch and he went with Smitty instead. I give up.
Michael Fulmer: “The Plumber”—Fulmer is not the first athlete to have an occupation-based nickname (remember former Dallas Mavericks forward Brian Cardinal being nicknamed “The Custodian?”). But Cardinal wasn’t a custodian (although he looked like one). However, Fulmer spends the offseason actually working as a plumber in Oklahoma.
Max Kepler: “Rozycki”—The German outfielder’s last name is actually Kepler-Rozycki. So his nickname is the second part of his last name. Someone please explain humor to the Germans for next year. Please.
Adam Engel: “Man of Steal”—Engel has 12 stolen bases on the season (as of writing). Settle down, Adam.
Lucas Giolito - “Bigfoot”—Giolito is 6’6”, and while I couldn’t find his shoe size, I’m sure he has big feet. This will be 10x better if the White Sox fill out a section of the stadium with people who claimed to have seen Bigfoot and they can all lose their mind when he pitches and gets introduced as Bigfoot.
Kevan Smith: “Webby”—Look. Someone with the last name Smith who isn’t Smitty. He’s a catcher, so this just proves my theory even more about pitchers named Smith being called Smitty. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Aroldis Chapman: “The Missile”—Missed opportunity to go for “The Cuban Missile” or “The Cuban Missile Crisis.”
Sonny Gray: “Pickles”—A pickle is what Sonny Gray gets the Yankees into every time he takes the mound.
If you made it to the end, kudos to you. You’ve earned it. I’m proud. What are your favorites, and have I missed any?
Give me a follow on Twitter (@RackleyNick). Please take time to leave a tip, I would truly appreciate it.