By: Dan Grant
Bad things always happen to me on September 30th. I’m not sure when it started, but it’s true.
Here’s a brief rundown:
2000 Broke my ankle playing hockey. This was gross.
2001 Lied to my mother, snuck out to a keg party, drank too much, puked all over my brand new leather jacket and got my sweet new Discman stolen. OK, this one’s on me.
2002 Separated my shoulder playing hockey. Still feel this one when I’m doing the ‘carry all eight grocery bags to the house in one trip’ to prove my self-worth as a man.
2003 Stayed inside all day and literally did nothing, trying to break the curse. Phone rings. Childhood pet died. RIP Catasaurus Rex.
2004-2005 2 year hiatus. Possibly. There may have been things I blocked out.
2006 Punched in the face by a random, extremely inebriated guy who thought I was someone else. This was not at a bar. It was in a parking lot, around 7:00 pm. He came up to me and said: ‘Hey, are you insert name here’ and I said ‘No. I’m Tim’. And he called back over his shoulder (to nobody) ‘Hey, you hear that? This guy say he’s named Tim’. Then he punched me. He had a ring on. Three stitches later…
2007-2010 Spent September 30th on each of these days barricaded in a glass case of emotion, just waiting for a plane to crash into my house.
2011 Thought I was out of the woods. Nope. On my first ever teaching placement, random kindergarten teacher tells me that my observations aren’t detailed enough and that she is considering failing me. I have been in the classroom for four days and have literally done nothing except watch kids finger paint and play with sand. September 30th strikes again!
2012-2014 See 2007-2010
2015 On this glorious day, the curse was broken.
This September 30th, the Toronto Blue Jays spanked the Baltimore Orioles 15-2 and clinched the American League East for the first time since 1993.
I can’t even talk about the baseball side of it right now. It’s not in me. Just know that this is the best Blue Jays team I’ve seen since I was 8 years old and I’m so happy that I get to watch them for at least another two weeks, and hopefully longer.
Today is a day for celebration. And while we celebrate the on-field greatness of this squad, let us not forget something much more trivial. Something superfluous. Something that is not nearly as important!
That being just how many wonderful nicknames this team boasts.
Nicknames have been synonymous with baseball since its inception. Babe Ruth was the Sultan of Swat, the Great Bambino. Ted Williams was Teddy Ballgame and the Splendid Splinter. Lou Gehrig was the Iron Horse. The possible title holder was Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid. We’ve had Rollie Fingers and Dizzy Dean.
They didn’t need to be complicated. Randy Johnson was nicknamed The Big Unit by Expos teammate Tim Raines, because he was, well, a Big Unit. Mordecai ‘Three Finger’ Brown had… well, you get it.
But as baseball became a big business, some of the romance was lost and so were some of the best traditions. Relief pitchers began losing their beer bellies and mustaches. Players stopped doing copious amount of recreational drugs before, after and during games. Managers stopped kicking dirt on the umpires shoes. And nicknames, well, nicknames began to fade.
This Blue Jays team has gone a long way towards righting at least one of these egregious wrongs.
Here is my personal ranking of their glorious, glorious monikers.
Jose Bautista: Joey Bats
Troy Tulowitzki: Tulo
I love both the players but these are just your names, guys. We can, and should do better.
Marcus Stroman: The Stro-Show
This would be higher on the actual list, if it hadn’t been stolen from NBA lottery bust Stromile Swift. I’m happy that someone is making better use of the nickname; Stroman even has is stitched on his glove. But originality is important in these completely arbitrary rankings.
Now, to the real categories!
The Nickname I Invented That Should Immediately Catch On
Ben Revere: Midnight Ride
I threw this one out on Facebook the other day and it was met with a lot of positive response. One jackass suggested it was racist because Revere is black and somehow a black guy plus midnight = racist.
To anyone who agrees with the jackass: Ben Revere is fast as hell and his last name is Revere. I know we’re in Canada here, but most people have heard of Paul Revere, who legendarily took the ‘Midnight Ride’ to warn of the impending British attack during the American Revolutionary War. The nickname is solely to do with that. It also sounds cool as shit. You’d lose your mind if someone gave you a nickname this cool. So get bent.
The Nickname That Requires Google Translate
Roberto Osuna: ‘Bobby Bear’
This is literally the English translation of his name. Osuna means Bear. Not since the days of Joe Table have we been so lucky. Plus he kinda looks like a little bear, doesn’t he? Ok, maybe not.
The Nickname That Only Exists At My House
Kevin Pillar: ‘The Wood Nymph’
My wife has been calling Kevin Pillar the Wood Nymph for some time now. I just assumed it was because he looked like an elf, sort of. I didn’t really think too hard about it until I decided to write this article. Here is how our conversation went yesterday:
Me: Why exactly do you call Pillar the Wood Nymph anyway? It’s because he looks like an elf, right?
Her: No, I think it’s because he reminds me of Kevin Pollak’s character from Willow.
Me: What? Really? What was Kevin Pollak in Willow?
Her: Oh, he was a Brownie. They’re real troublemakers.
Me: Do you think Pillar is a trouble maker?
Her: It actually might be because his name is so similar to Kevin Pollak. Actually yeah, it’s definitely that. Plus he kinda looks like a Wood Nymph.
THE WOOD NYMPH EVERYBODY!
The Nickname That Only I Remember
Russell Martin: ‘Speed Limit’
Back in 2007, when Russell Martin had emerged as a young star with the LA Dodgers, he was given the nickname Speed Limit by Will Ferrell. Ferrell was a huge Dodgers fan and got to announce the starting lineups one game. As Martin wore number 55, stole lots of bases and the speed limit in California is 55 mph on most highways, the name sort of created itself.
It just sounds great. Imagine Ferrell as a Ron Burgundy-ish character, intoning ‘Batting second, the catcher, number 55, Russell ‘Speeeeeeeeeed Limit’ Martin’. Fantastic.
I can’t find the video of it anywhere, or of Ferrell’s interview afterwards where he said Martin was his favourite player. But I swear that it happened. Here is proof, kind of.
The Top Three
3. Edwin Encarncion: Ed-wing
I mean, you can’t top the pure GIF-ability of this one. It’s also completely ridiculous, which makes it even better.
Just out of control.
2. Chris Colabello: Bing Bong. I wrote about this one last week.
1. Josh Donaldson: The Bringer of Rain
And finally our glorious leader.
In a pre-season interview, Arden Zwelling wrote the following:
‘He’s a massive fan of the Spartacus television series, lifting his “Bringer of Rain” moniker directly from an episode of the show that features Spartacus decapitating the legendary giant, Theokoles and ending a months-long drought in the city of Capua’.
Donaldson went on to say that he felt he had slayed many giants on his road to being a successful big league player, which is why he chose Bringer of Rain as his Twitter handle.
Let’s hope you slay a few more this fall, Joshua.
[Ed. Note: After the publication of this article a friend (shout out Joel Murray) alerted me that Ryan Goins has, on at least one occasion, referred to ace David Price as ‘Slim Duncan’. I mean, just when you think they couldn’t give us any more.]