Muzzling The ARF
A defining element of an athlete?s persona, the nickname should evolve naturally and — more importantly — without formula.
?The Big Blank,? of course, is the exception to the rule — the Big Hurt, the Big Cat, the Big Ticket, the Big Unit, the Big This and the Big That. But the exceptions stop there … without exception.
In particular, the ?A-Rod Formula? — call if ?ARF? — has been abused for far too long. Taking the first letter of an athlete?s first name, throwing in a hyphen, tacking on the first syllable of his last name and trying to pass it off as a nickname is just plain inane. There?s nothing unique about the ARF, nothing that sheds light on the athlete?s character, nothing that separates him from the pack. However fittingly, the ARF is about as expressive as the bark of a dog.
If you?re not sold, consider ?T-Mac,? which sounds more like a new line of Apple computers than a befitting nickname for six-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady. Clearly, McGrady could use an alias a tad more relevant to his supreme talent, but as it stands, he?ll never know what it?s like to have a real nickname.
And don?t even get me started on ?J-Cap,? the Starbucks-order-turned-nickname for tennis star Jennifer Capriati.
But if Rodriguez must be ?A-Rod,? if McGrady must be ?T-Mac,? and if Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin must be ?K-Mart,? shouldn?t Mets ace Pedro Martinez be ?P-Mart?? What about Indians catcher Victor Martinez? Shouldn?t he be ?V-Mart?? And don?t those sound more like cheap convenience stores than big-league nicknames?
What about former Red Sox and White Sox reliever Frank Baumann? Is he ?F-Baum?? And is Twins right-hander Brad Radke ?B-Rad,? or ?Brad?? You bet he is.
Likewise, Cardinals reliever Braden Looper should be ?B-Loop,? or ?Bloop.? Fellow Redbird Albert Pujols must be ?A-Pu,? or ?Apu.?
Rangers outfielder Gary Matthews, meanwhile, must be ?G-Mat.? But Matthews wouldn?t necessarily be the first Major Leaguer named after a standardized admission test. After all, Luis ?L-Sat? Saturria played sparingly in the Cardinals outfield from 2000-01, and Mike ?M-Cat? Cather pitched out the Braves bullpen from 1997-99.
So forget about the insanity. It?s time to STOP THE INANITY! It?s time to start respecting the sanctity of the sports nicknaming lexicon. And it?s time to put a muzzle on the ARF.