In the spirit of the 29th Summer Olympiad, I have decided to award medals to athletes based not on their ability, performance or difficulty, but rather on a more indefinable characteristic: their nicknames.
And in an effort to be non-discriminant, we're including athletes from all sports, not just those lucky enough to be named as 'Olympic sports'.
When it comes to nicknames, the possibilities are basically endless. Nicknames can be based on anything from physical characteristics (El Gordo) to stupid announcer epithets (Big Bad Bobby Jenks) .
If you've ever sat through a White Sox television broadcast (I not only feel your pain), you've definitely heard good ole' boy Ken Harrleson's numerous nicknames for everyone from White Sox players to the hot dog vendors and of course his #1 best manfriend: Carl 'Yaz' Yastrzemski.
The awards for the best nicknames will be determined by the appropriateness of the nickname in relation to the athlete, overall badassness of the name, and/or if it's funny enough to make me laugh out loud. We will award gold, silver and bronze medals to multiple nicknames depending on the sport.
Since there are thousands of nicknames for athletes out there I decided to pick two for each medal and then some honorable mentions just for good measure. Don't like it? Get your own fuckin' blog you pukes.
AND HERE WE GO
- 'Broadway' Joe Namath - Gets credit for the mustache alone, the man did once receive $10,000 to shave it for a Remington razor commercial. Also guaranteed a Super Bowl and actually delivered (here's looking at you Matt Hasselbeck). Namath was also a fucking great quarterback who was the 1st QB to throw for 4,000 yards in a 14 game season. Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh stated that Namath was "the most beautiful, accurate, stylish passer with the quickest release I've ever seen." Finally, without Joe's crazy Italian swagger and olive oily charm, there wouldn't be a need for a pretty funny and popular blog named after one of his infamous antics.
- Julius 'Dr. J' Irving - Star of the ABA and one of the pioneers of the 'above the rim' style of play, Dr. J earned the nickname in high school for his precise method of play. I'm sure he also played 'doctor' with somewhere around 512 young co-eds.
Bronze Medal Winners:
- Curtis 'Cujo' Joseph - A pretty damn good goalie in his day, Cujo derived his nickname from the 1st two letters of his first and last name and paired them with the vicious dog from the Steven King novel. Little does anyone know, Cujo's real name was Curtis Munro, changed to Joseph in 1989. Cumu just doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it? It certainly wouldn't have made him able to wear such a badass goalie mask.
- 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson - It just wouldn't be a Chicago Bull post without something about the White Sox would it? (Just wait for more down below it gets better). According to Jackson, he got his nickname during a game against the Brandon Mill team. Jackson suffered from a blister on his foot from a new pair of cleats. They hurt so much that he had to take his shoes off before an at bat. Once he was on base, a fan started yelling inappropriate and vulgar comments at him. One of the things Jackson was called was a "Shoeless son of a gun." The name stuck with him throughout the remainder of his life. (Thanks Wikipedia!)
Silver Medal Winners:
- Wayne 'The Great One' Gretzky - The man was so good, after he retired he was immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Back when hockey was cool and before a young man by the name of Eldrick Woods ever picked up a golf club, Gretzky was the best player in sports, and that's including MJ.
- Walter 'Sweetness' Payton - Look, us Bears fans rarely have anything to cheer about ok? So when a player like Sweetness comes around and fucking dominates everyone with his prolific 'stutter-step' move and his amazing speed, we sure as shit are going to give him an awesome nickname. The name also has to do with Walter Payton the man - even though it could just as easily be used to describe his play - because Payton was such an inspiring person on and off the field. It's a shame that many people our age never got to see him play, and I always look for the old-timers at Bears games wearing the #34 amongst the sea of #54 and #91.
- Ted 'Teddy Ballgame' Williams - As much as it pains me to give any credit to a Boston player, Teddy Ballgame is my favorite nickname in all of sports and the reason why I sat down at my office today to write this post. Arguably the best left-handed hitter ever, Williams literally wrote the book on how to hit a baseball. In 1941, he entered the last day of the season with a batting average of .399. This would have been rounded up to .400, making him the first man to hit .400 since Bill Terry in 1930.
Manager Joe Cronin left the decision whether to play up to him. Williams opted to play in both games of the day's doubleheader and risk losing his record. He got 6 hits in 8 at bats, raising his season average to .406. Williams also hit .400 in 1952 and .407 in 1953, both partial seasons; nobody has hit over .400 in a season since Williams.
- Pete 'Charlie Hustle' Rose - All cheating scandals aside, the motherfucker sure could play baseball. And play it he did. Rose played the game mean, running spikes-up into 2nd basemen to break up double plays, charging over catchers at home and rubbing dirt on every wound. Rose's nickname, "Charlie Hustle", was given to him for his play beyond the "call of duty" while on the field.
Even when being walked, Rose would sprint to first base, instead of the traditional trot to the base. Rose was known for sliding headfirst into a base, his signature move. This method is now used almost exclusively by stealing base runners today, and has been ever since the late 70's. There's also that 44-game hitting streak that is still the longest ever in the National League.