Jesse Crain goes to the White Sox and so goes one of the best Cruel Nicknames the Twins ever had.
Jesse has been at times a top-notch reliever for the Twins, and he’s had his down periods where he was tagged, not always fairly, as the Crain Wreck.
Cruel Nicknames – I’m sure they’ve been around as long as the game. But how were we to know them until the internet came around? The beat reporters traded kindness for access, so the behind-the-back dugout nicknames never made it to me. Maybe I would have overheard some in a bar, but unlikely, since I haven’t been geolocated in Twins Territory since the mid 1980’s.
But then along came the internet, where snarkiness knows no bounds.
My personal favorite Twins Cruel Nickname: Hansell the Regrettable – a reference to Greg Hansell, one of many otherwise undistinguished Twins relievers of the mid 90’s. I’m not sure how I even ever heard of the nickname. I must have read a posting by some irreverent fan on some Twins bulletin board back then, before TwinsGeek, Stick and Ball Guy, Glleeman and the like pioneered the modern Twins baseball blog.
More recently, I’ve seen some bloggers referring to Delmon Young as ‘elmon Young– presumably because he provides no D. The joke’s been around a while – often attributed to football teams in ‘etroit or ‘allas or ‘enver in years when they have a poor defense. Glad to see it imported to baseball.
There are several characteristics that make up a good Cruel Nickname:
1) There must be some performance basis for the nickname. A good Cruel Nickname can not be an ad hominem attack. Back in the 80’s, David Letterman called the Braves reliever Terry Forster a “Fat Tub of Goo” – that doesn’t work. If Letterman had called him a “Fat Tub of Goo With a High Walk Rate” – well, that wouldn’t be catchy, but at least it has some basis.
2) Though they need basis, they need not be fair. They can’t be. Major League baseball players are an elite class. They all have extraordinary skills. Few really deserve their nicknames. But, still, a few disappointing losses, some poor plays, a bad streak — and a good Cruel Nickname can stick.
3) They must be clever.* A play on the player’s name works. So is an appropriate pop reference. Perhaps the best of all baseball Cruel Nicknames is that of Dick “Dr. Strangeglove” Stuart . When the movie of the similar name came out in 1964, someone needed that nickname and Dick was just the bad fielder to get it. When “Major League” debuted in 1989 with a character known as Rich “Wild Thing” Vaughn – someone needed to inherit the nickname in real life – and there was Mitch Williams all ready for the name.
* I can hear my inner Tyler Durden asking “How’s that working out for you?”
Do you have any favorite Cruel Nicknames you remember? Do you have any you want to enter into the lexicon of Twins fans?
Now that the Crain Wreck is gone, there’s a much-needed void to be filled for Twins’ Cruel Nicknames. Here’s one I propose: as a tribute to his propensity to get picked off at first, henceforth, the Twins center fielder shall be known as: Denard “Short Attention” Span.*
* Denard’s thought bubble when on first: “Okay. Take a little lead off of first. A few more steps. Focus on the pitcher’s leg…watch…watch …hey, look at that babe up behind home plate…damn, she’s fine…oh shit…Oh Shit…DIVE!!!…CRAP!!!!!!….Picked off frickin’ again?!…Jeezus!!…Gardy’s gonna kill me…Damn, I’m am so f…hey, I wonder what they’ll have at the postgame spread…”