7 New Phillies Need a Nickname
Though it’s felt like spring for a few months already, spring training—that magical time of the year when everyone is undefeated, every player is in the best shape of his career, and everyone in the system has a puncher’s chance at heading north with the big club—is now in full swing.
It’s a time of intense focus and preparation for the players and coaches, especially for the new names and faces management brought in during the off-season. As fans, we’ve also got some work to do to prep for the long season. These new players need nicknames, fan groups and T-shirt-ready memes.
As we say goodbye to Roy Oswalt, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge and Wilson Valdez, we must also bid adieu to “The Four Aces” and “R2C2,” to “Rauuuuuuuuul” and “the Mad Dog,” to “Lights Out” and, um, Wilson Valdez. This makes room for a new crop of Phils who’ll be providing hash-tag fodder and MLBPA targets in the months to come.
Let’s do this.
The new Phillies closer comes with a shiny new contract and without anything like a decent nickname. He was allegedly called “Paps” in college—which sounds like a smear—and he’s supposedly known in certain circles as the Fish because of a face he makes while on the mound—which is stupid. While Papelbon is, admittedly, a tough name to riff on, in the spirit of “So Cuttered,” his out pitch, a split-fingered fastball that sinks violently as it reaches the plate, could become known as a Papelbomb (this could backfire if he gives up too many late-inning gopherballs: “Phils closer serves up ninth-inning Papelbomb”). Now that Papelbon no longer shares a locker room with David Ortiz, he can claim the nickname that is his birthright: “Big Papi.” Or, in the spirit of the Nigerian presidents and positive thinking, Goodluck Jonathan. Or, in the spirit of Who’s The Boss, simply “Jonatin.”
Rejected nicknames: Papple Pie, The Papoose, Bonita Papelbaum, The Smear
The life-long super sub—Wigginton has played six different positions in his career and is likely to see time at first, second, third and both outfield corners for the Phils—also provides nickname versatility. It will be fun, especially in Philly, to “get Wiggy with it,” to “Ty one on” or to proclaim loudly following a walk-off home run, “That Wiggin weighed a TON!” I further propose a “Mask and Wig Club” where Ty’s fans don likenesses of the San Diego native’s rugged, neckless, movie-star good looks.
Rejected Nicknames: Wig Poppy, El Wigador, Colonel Ty
Pierre is a non-roster invitee with a decent chance to make the club. He’s a 34-year-old Alabama native with 12 years of big-league experience who, given his name and visage, you might mistake for a 14-year-old Hatian pool boy. Given Phillies fans’ love of 18th-century French revolutionary history, is it so hard to imagine a fan group called Pierre’s Robes? I’m imagining a bunch of union electricians wearing nothing but bathrobes. Phillies fever—catch it.
Rejected Nicknames: Wompy Air, Juandice, John Penis
The square-jawed 31-year-old will be duking it out with John Mayberry and Domonic Brown for playing time in the suddenly Raul-less left field. Nix’s Lances springs to mind (and for some reason, so, too, do electricians in bathrobes). They could sit in Nix Cage.
Rejected Nicknames: Nickle Nix, Mr. Nixyzptlk, Sputnix
When Charlie Manuel summons his new setup man to the game, we all agree to say, “He made the Qualls to the bullpen.” When Chad shuts down the opposition, we’ll say “NyQualls put ’em to sleep.”
Rejected Nicknames: Lo Quall, Dropped Quall, Dying Quall
The former first-round draft pick who flamed out as a pitcher in the minors, tried to make it as a hitter, then suddenly found a few more mph on his fastball, is a long shot to make the team out of spring training. But that doesn’t mean we won’t likely see him at Citizens Bank Park at some point this year. Savery is tricky: He’s a reliever with the word “save” right there in his name. You can almost imagine Richie Ashburn on a broadcast: “Bet the house, Harry. He looks Savery.” But his name is also a homonym for savory, which is just too meaty to pass up: How about Joe Delicious, or Sweet and Savery. And then there’s the religious angle: “Have you accepted Joe as your personal Savery?” This one will be tough.
Rejected Nicknames: The Tastemaker, Umami Dearest
Speaking of tricky cases, Dontrelle Willis comes with a tailor-made nickname: The D-Train. Of course, that was his pseudonym when he was a rising star with the Florida Marlins. In recent years, the D-Train has gone off the rails thanks to a befuddling case of Steve Blass Disease. While it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, “What you talkin’ ’bout?!?” fits the enigmatic Willis to a T.
Rejected Nicknames: Dontel Williams