August 11, 2017
Of Monikers and Catnappers
Better Player Nicknames For The Nationals
By: Matt Sussman
This week we all saw and admired the creativity (and in some cases, lack thereof) behind the nicknames players chose to wear for the upcoming Little League Weekend. Of all the teams, the Nationals were probably right in the middle. But I wish that we had seen a bit more ingenuity from the team. So I’ll take it upon myself to suggest some better ones for a few of the Nats. Spread the word around:
Brandon Kintzler: GUESS WHO — Just acquired at the deadline. Surprise!
Michael Taylor: JUST GOT BACK — Should be off the DL by the time the weekend rolls around. Would be awesome!
Ryan Madson: TODAY — Ready every day to pitch. A useful fireman!
Joe Blanton: THEM — His mother’s name is Gloria, and it was Them’s biggest hit. Obscure, but a touching tribute to his mom.
Max Scherzer: WILD-EYED — “Blue Eye” is okay but wild-eyed is a little more appropriate, given his unpredictable movement.
Adam Lind: BOYS — A tribute to his two small boys. Imagine when they grow up, how strong they’ll be!
Anthony Rendon: THAT — So when he makes a good play — what just happened? That just happened.
Howie Kendrick: HAD — Because he’s had a great career. He still does, of course.
Edwin Jackson: BEEN AWAY — The well-traveled pitcher is in his second stint with the Nationals. Why didn’t he use this?
Ryan Zimmerman: HAVEN’T CHANGED — He’s having a breakout year, but he’s just kept the same steady approach.
Sean Doolittle: THAT MUCH TO SAY — Outspoken and proud of it. I wish more ballplayers were like this.
Matt Wieters: BUT MAN - For crouching down all the time as a catcher. Get it?
Oliver Perez: I STILL THINK — After all these years, he still thinks he can be an effective pitcher. And he is.
Gio Gonzalez: THEM CATS — A nod to his two tabbies, Alpha and Omega. Good names for cats, honestly.
Tanner Roark: ARE — In grade school, his classmates called him by the second syllable in his first name. Weird but catchy, and it’s a conversation starter.
Daniel Murphy: CRAZY — Because you have to be crazy to love this sport, which makes us all a little crazy.
Brooks Pounders and the Purrfect Crime
By: Zack Moser
The call shot through Brooks Pounders, not so much a thunderous clap as a painful screech, wresting Pounders from his postgame daze. It was the captain, and the shriek, an unusual timbre and pitch from the usually baritoned man, betrayed his concern.
“Pounders, you like Missouri, don’t ya? Did fine with Kansas City when you were there. Well, you’re heading back: we got one for you. Hope you’ve got your Benadryl.”
Pounders hated cats. An Indiana-Jones-hates-snakes hatred. And now, a little over a week after being sent back to Salt Lake City, the captain wanted him to drive all the way to St. Louis and find the person who stole a damn cat. Couldn’t even fly—Pounders hated flying, too. He couldn’t rip Pall Malls one after another on a plane. But, hey, it was a job, and Pounders couldn’t afford to turn down a job. He needed to get back in Sciosch’s good graces and get himself back to L.A. And so he heard the captain out.
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
“We got a classic catnapping here,” the captain launched into Pounders’ briefing. “Woman slipped out of the ballpark with a kitten. Little guy ran on the field with two outs in the ninth, raced past Lorenzo Cain, clawed at the grounds crew guy who snatched him up. The grounds crew guy had to get first aid treatment for his bloody hand, so he tossed the kitten to an usher. Oh, by the way, it’s a kitten. Pretty small. Gray. Cute. You know. Anyway, apparently a woman snatched it from one of the ushers, saying it was her cat—left without so much as a word. She split, and now you’ve gotta find her.”
They didn’t know who the woman was, which frustrated Pounders. Demoted to Triple-A, sent on a wild cat chase in Missouri. When Pounders repeated the name of the state, he drenched it in contempt. Although he had spent five years in the Royals org, climbing the ranks all the way to the majors, he hated the city and state. Those good memories had soured quickly, once he posted an ERA north of nine in his first stint with the big league club.
Pounders shoved a big pinch of Big League Chew into his mouth as his conversation with the captain winding down.
“Trying to quit. Minor league salaries and all.”
As Pounders gathered his sparse Smith’s Park locker, still not fully unpacked from his demotion, he pondered the slim prospects of catching the woman or finding the cat. It didn’t quite depress him; he had found a modicum of solace in its pointlessness, a minor respite from the suffocating pressure to hang onto a major-league roster spot.
Finding himself absentmindedly lighting a cigarette as he strode through the thinning parking lot, Pounders shrugged to himself. He’d drive to St. Louis, ask a few questions. Trying to quit.
Matt Sussman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @suss2hyphens