We need a nickname

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nicknames have been on my mind a lot lately.

The ever-edgy New York Post has given one to the embattled captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, calling the Capt. Francesco Schettino the "Chicken of the Sea" after his actions in the ordeal off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

On Wednesday, star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish signed a six-year, $60 million contract with the Texas Rangers. Immediately Twitter blew up, suggesting nicknames for Darvish, the product of an Iranian father and Japanese mother.

With the kind of money they threw at him, "Yu Haul" seems equally appropriate. He might need a U-Haul to tote around $60 million. Or "Yu Tube," taking into consideration the online generation and the likely video highlights he will generate.

But I figured "Whirling Darvish" has to be a natural fit.

Time was most athletes had great, colorful nicknames. Wilt the Stilt. The Big O. Broadway Joe. The Babe. Heck, who needed their real names?

Jack Nicklaus was "The Golden Bear." Musial became "Stan the Man," providing an instant nickname for all future Stans to follow.

What have we got now?

Tom Brady and Drew Brees don't have nicknames unless you count cheesy stuff like "Tom Terrific" and "Cool Brees." And the only nickname I have ever heard associated with Peyton Manning is when Jon Gruden kept calling him "The Sheriff" on Monday Night Football. Never heard anyone else call him that.

Pacman Jones is a pretty good one, but he's bounced around in trouble more than he's been on the football field so let's not count him.

Meta World Peace? Come on, man. You can't give yourself a nickname. Besides, he's really just the Artest formerly known as Ron.

Remember that old "Seinfeld" episode when George Costanza thought it would be cool to be called "T-Bone?" He tried to manipulate his co-workers into calling him that, only to have another associate steal the "T-Bone" nickname out from under him, further frustrating the ever-exasperated Costanza.

Personally I have managed all these years to be a man of few nicknames. The one that tends to stick is far from creative -- E.B. It's been that way since my first newspaper job in Bloomington when one of my fellow sports writers was actually J.D. Lewis, so one of the other staffers took to calling everybody by their initials. We became E.B., D.R., J.M. and R.C.

Yet he never called the sports editor, technically our boss, by his initials. Nope, good old Bob Owens was never B.O.

As I look around the office here, staff nicknames are few and far between.

Randy heads the List but he's not R.L. or anything like that. Just Randy and The Boss to us. Maybe it's that old Daily Planet Perry White "Don't call me chief" effect.

Daryl? Lauren? Jeanne? Caine? I've got nothin' for them.

Now Jared Jernagan, that just cries out to be J-J but that's weak. He'll tell you that his friends used to call him J-Rod (like A-Rod, get it?). I like that but I don't think it really fits.

The best we're got is ad manager Merlin, the Maltsberger Magician. Magic Man. But we still just call him Merlin to his face.

So as name-game creativity escapes us, you have to wonder why Greencastle has no nickname. And G.C. is not going to cut it.

New York is the Big Apple. Chicago's the Windy City. New Orleans is the Big Easy. A city's nickname can be its identity.

Even Indianapolis is the Circle City, now that it's out of the shadow of the old Indy-no-place moniker.

Greencastle? We need something endearing. Something genuine. Something that sets us apart.

We've got the Buzz Bomb, now we need some buzz.

Any ideas? I'm counting on you ...