Time Out: Moniker Madness

“Who’s on first.”–Bud Abbott

Note: If you have never seen Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” routine, one can only draw one of three possible conclusions.  You’re from a country that does not play baseball, you can’t speak English, or you’ve been living under a rock your entire life.  Maybe all three.  For your benefit (and I assume you speak English if you’re reading this blog) and for anyone who needs a refresher, the video link to that classic appears at the end of this article.

Hu's on FirstStorm Throne…Rougned Odor…Sicnarf Loopstok…these are only three of the 75 names entered in minor league baseball’s seventh annual Moniker Madness competition, to chose the best name (read: most ridiculous) in the game.  The contest began Monday and will run through  August 29.  You can see the whole list, and vote for your favorites, here.

No purging of my hopelessly cluttered mind would be complete without a discussion of baseball names.  Or–more specifically–funny baseball names.  Abbott and Costello famously lampooned funny baseball names as far back as the early 1930’s.  Back in middle school in the 1960’s, my best friend and I cataloged a list of what we called the 50 wackiest names in (up to then) Baseball history.  The list included such beauts as Clyde Kluttz, Van Lingle Mungo, Orval Overall and Christian Frederick Albert John Henry David Betzel.   More recently, I have profiled some of these guys as a guest correspondent on The Blog of Funny NamesBut let’s get back to Moniker Madness.

Sicnarf Loopstok?  Really?  Is that a name or the result of an explosion in an Alpha Bits factory?  Yes, it is real, and Loopstok is currently leading on the list of this year’s nominees.  Some of my personal favorites on this year’s list, besides Loopstok, include Jose Jose, Storm Throne and the aforementioned Mr. Odor.  (What were his parents thinking?  Can you imagine the schoolyard taunts when he was a kid?).

Here’s a fun little game to play with these names.  If one saw the name, and didn’t know it was of a professional ballplayer, who might you take them for instead?  Here’s a few of my suggestions from this year’s MM list:

Duke Von Schamman–Baron von Richthofen’s younger step-brother.

Sicnarf Loopstok–the prime minister of Croatia.  (Oops, turns out he is from Aruba, so how about the governor of Aruba?)

Storm Throne–a female porn star

Damien Magnifico–goalie for the Brazilian World Cup soccer team.

Jett Bandy–see Storm Throne

Sammie Star–see Storm Throne and Jett Bandy

Zech Zinicola–councilman from the third ward, Bayone, NJ

Delta Cleary, Jr.–a used car dealer with annoying TV and radio ads

Jose Jose–a character from a Saturday Night Live or other TV show sketch.  (Can’t you just hear Bill Dana** saying “my name, Jose Jose?”)

Mookie Betts–a professional gambler

Rougned Odor–maybe a…or…er…help me out, I have no idea here.  (It’s pronounced roog-ned oh-dor, accents on the first syllables)

The full current leader board can be found on the site.   If you can come up with additions to the list above, please share them with us.

Have a great day, and don’t even think of naming any of your kids after these guys.  😀

**Like me, Bill Dana is an Emerson College grad.  He went there centuries before I did, though. 😛

Signature    @MarkSackler


Wonderful Terrific Monds III and Moniker Madness

Another guest post on The Blog of Funny Names.

The Blog of Funny Names

Can’t anyone here play this game?”–Casey Stengel

Question:  What do Roughned Odor, Zealous Wheeler, Caleb Bushyhead, Michael Goodnight and Tuffy Gosewisch have in common?

Answer:  They are just five of the 63 also-rans in the 2012 Minor League Baseball Moniker Madness, behind the eventual winner, Rock Shoulders.   Shoulders joined previous winners Seth Schwindenhammer, Rowdy Hardy, Dusty Napoleon, Will Startup and Houston Summers in winning the annual Wonderful Terrific Monds III award for the most awesome name in all of organized minor league baseball.

Wonderful Terrific Monds III??!!  Yes, that’s a real name, of a real baseball player, who spent the years 1993-1999 in the minor leagues, mostly in the Atlanta Braves organization.   It seems his great grandfather had a slew of girls, and when he finally had a son, he thought it was Wonderful and Terrific and named him such.   Like the Outerbridge Horsey legacy, the name has been…

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Cosmic Quote #25

“Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player.  It’s staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in.”–Casey Stengel

If the ‘ol professor Stengel was right–and who am I to argue with him–one can surmise that Alex Rodriguez and his .132 post season batting average have spent the last three Octobers in the Bronx pulling all-nighters.**  I guess it pays off, as in getting Cameron Diaz to feed you popcorn at the Super Bowl (see video).  On the other hand, Derek Jeter seems to have a much better batting average than his controversial teammate, both with runners in scoring position and with women in scoring position.   He seems to performs well, both on the field and with the ladies, at all times.  Yet according to one article that appeared on the net couple of years ago, he was just 6 for 100 during the previous season.  That is, he has dated 6 of Maxim Magazine’s hottest 100 women in the world.  That’s a batting average most guys would  love to have.  Eat your heart out, A-Rod.  Thanks to my friend Dave Carlson at The Blog of Funny Names for the nifty work of art below.

Jeter meme**I quantify A-Rod’s futility in clutch situations in the next Equations of Everyday life, now in post production.


Cosmic Quote #23: Happy Birthday MC

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but I almost always wind up where I need to be.”-Douglas Adams

“There still is no cure for the common birthday.”–John Glenn

The Millennium Conjectures™ turns one today.  On May 23, 2012 my life was in turmoil.   My father had just passed away,  one of my best friends was in the process of being diagnosed with an incurable cancer and I was feeling more than a bit burned out.  Was this the cure?  Life still has its vicissitudes, but I am certainly doing a lot better than a year ago.   This blog has helped, and it has survived.   To paraphrase Douglas Adams, it hasn’t always gone where I thought it would go, but it has always gone where I needed it to be.  Amazingly,  I have amassed a decent sized audience and have received no death threats or arrest warrants.   And as there is no truism greater than the John Glenn quote above, I will relentlessly keep going where I need to be, as long as I am still breathing.   Below is the first post from one year ago today.  Where has it taken me?  Where has it taken you?

Signature        @MarkSackler


May 23, 2012:  What is This?

These are my musings, both ridiculous and sublime.  I would have made “Ridiculous and Sublime” the primary title of this blog, but I am vain.  I want some semblance of uniqueness and there are many other bloggers using this theme.   But I will explain both title and subtitle before proceeding.

So what are Millennium Conjectures?  I’ll explain that in a bit as well.  But first, I present a word about the overall content and nature of my posts.  And why I, and my posts, are both ridiculous and sublime.

This is not a personal journal.  Who would be interested in reading my personal journal online?  I wouldn’t even be interested.  No, these are musings, observations and conjectures from a journalistic standpoint, a way of looking at things you might find interesting or funny.  You might also find some silly and trivial.  I do have some past background in both broadcast and print journalism, but that is not my professional livelihood these days; I do this for the satisfaction and outlet.

So—I’ll get back to the subtitle.

Let’s face it: I am both ridiculous and sublime.  To start with, the two most famous people whose birthday I share (October 2) are Mohandas Gandhi and Groucho Marx.


What could be more sublime and ridiculous than those two?  And to boot, the most famous thing, arguably, that happened on the very day of my birth (Oct 2, 1950), was the appearance of the very first syndicated Peanuts cartoon.  Good ‘ol Charlie Brown was born the same day as me.  He is most certainly a perfect blending of the two qualities we are talking about.  Wishy-washy? Maybe. But that is only because he is so torn by these conflicting aspects of the universe that surrounds him.  Yes, the silly and profound seem both to be bound into my DNA.

Content herein will then consist of both the trivial/silly (, history of CT license plates, Pearls Before Swine) and the profound (Quantum Physics, Cosmology, Existentialism, Opera and the philosophy of science).  There will also be topics that engender a bit of both characteristics; baseball, for example, and especially baseball statistics.  Yes, Baseball is a game, but as George Will so astutely observed, “if baseball is just a game, then the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the ground.”   This will happen solely because my cluttered mind embraces all of these endeavors, and for some strange reason, I think that somewhere out there one or two people might be interested in my insights.

So, back to the Millenium Conjectures.  My posts will be marked as either Ridiculous or Sublime or Ridiculous AND Sublime.  The lion’s share of the Sublime category—indeed of all the content– will be a series I call The Millenium Conjectures.  These will deal with my views and speculations on the nature of reality, the universe and  scientific philosophy.  Everything else will be a time-out to blow off steam. But lest my head explode, let alone yours, this is enough for now.

Text in this post ©2012 Mark Sackler


Photo Op #4: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

“You don’t realize how easy this game is until you get up in that broadcasting booth.” — Mickey Mantle

A view from above.

A view from above.

Date:   May 4, 2013

Place:  Television Broadcast Booth, Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas.

Occasion:  A visit with longtime Houston Astros TV play-by-play announcer, Bill Brown, on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of Houston Astro Bob Watson scoring Major League Baseball’s 1 millionth run, May 4, 1975.

Explanation:  If you need one, you haven’t been following this blog.   Bill Brown’s memoir, My Baseball Journey, has a chapter on the one millionth run and mentions my roll in its promotion.   Of course, the Astros were playing in the Astrodome in that era, and the millionth run wasn’t even scored there.  They were on the road at the old Candlestick  Park in San Fransisco.   But this is about as close as I will ever come.   Special thanks to Tim Gregg for his role as co-author of the book, and for arranging my visit with Bill.  

Me with Bill Brown.  I'm the funny looking one in the red shirt.

Me with Bill Brown just before game time. I’m the funny looking one in the red shirt.

Enough of this self-serving fluff.  Now on to different self-serving fluff.


Anniversary rerun: The One Millionth Run

“It’s deja vu all over again.”–Yogi Berra

Today is the 38th anniversary of Bob Watson’s scoring baseball’s 1 millionth run,  May 4, 1975.  I expect to meet Bill Brown, author of one of the books mentioned below, tonight at Minute Maid Park in Houston.  My original blog post on this event below.

“In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”–Andy Warhol

Bob Watson

The date was May 4th, 1975.  The place was Candlestick Park, San Fransisco.  And the man of the hour was Bob Watson of the Houston Astros,  who scored the 1 millionth run in major league baseball history.  Watson beat Dave Concepcion of the Cincinnati Reds by four seconds in a race around the bases from opposite ends of the country.  It was one of the most exciting early-in-the-season baseball moments ever.

To this day Watson’s name, and to a lesser extent Concepcion’s, is associated with that event in baseball history.  But there was another name in the news that was connected to the story.  He was  a 24-year-old local sportscaster from Westport, CT who used a first generation, eighty dollar electronic calculator to research and originate the millionth run contest, thus scooping all the professional statisticians and baseball journalists.  He went on a media tour to promote a “guess-the-player” contest sponsored by Tootsie Roll.  His picture and name appeared in wire service stories, in Sport Magazine and in the New York Daily News.  He appeared on television and spoke at press conferences alongside the likes of Stan Musial, Ralph Branca, Mel Allen and Bowie Kuhn.  He had 15 minutes of Warholian fame.   Then came oblivion.

The 24-year old whiz kid with the calculator was, of course, me.

I was exhilarated, excited and even euphoric;  then it was over.   And for thirty-something years the memory simply faded, almost to the point that it seemed to have happened to another person in

Millionth run center

The 1,000,000th run countdown center. That’s me talking to the gathered media as Stan Musial naps in the background. Check out my 1975 hair!

another lifetime.  It became just another forgotten footnote in the deep and illustrious history of our national pastime.  After awhile, I didn’t even care, so why should anybody else?

Then something funny happened.  Straight out the blue, nearly four years ago, I received an email from Kansas City Star sportswriter Joe Posnanski.

“Are you the Mark Sackler who originated the millionth run?” he asked.  “I’m writing a book about the 1975 Cincinnati Reds.  I want to include it and the events involving Davey Concepcion as an interesting sidebar to the season’s story.”

The next year, The Machine, Posnanski’s book chronicling a great season by one of the best teams in the game’s history, appeared in bookstores with a chapter on the millionth run.  After 34 years, somebody remembered.   My sister joked that I was getting another 15 minutes of fame.  My retort was that it was more like 30 seconds.

But then it happened again.  A few months ago, a gentleman named Timothy Gregg contacted me on Facebook to make the same inquiry.  Was I the millionth run originator?  Gregg, also a former sportscaster and sports promoter, now a digital media producer, was co-authoring the memoirs of Houston Astros TV commentator Bill Brown.  Of course, there would be a chapter on the millionth run in that book as well.  This time not from the Reds point of view, but the Astros.   This book–My Baseball Journeywas just recently published.  So fifteen minutes of fame is now fifteen minutes and forty-five seconds.   And counting…

If you are a baseball fan, both of these books are worthwhile.  Otherwise, stay tuned for more effluvia from my hopelessly cluttered cranium.



Cosmic Quote #21

“What do I do in the winter when there is no baseball?  I look out the window and wait for spring.”–Rogers Hornsby

I have previously posted this picture.    This is how I feel when spring has finally sprung. (That’s not me in the picture, I have no idea who it is.  My camera timing was just perfect, and more than a bit lucky.)

Pura Vida.  A beach near Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.January, 2008.   Copyright Mark Sackler, 2008.

Pura Vida.  Copyright Mark Sackler, 2008.


Time In: Play Ball!

“The baseball mania has run its course. It has no future as a professional endeavor.” — Cincinnati Gazette editorial, 1879

“A man once told me to walk with the Lord. I’d rather walk with the bases loaded.” — Ken Singleton

opening-dayAh, Spring!   Instead of spending my leisure hours indoors, drinking beer and watching old movies, I can spend them outdoors, drinking beer and watching baseball.

For years we had a little wooden plaque hanging on our kitchen wall that my wife found at a craft fair,  inscribed with the missive “We interrupt this marriage to bring you the baseball season.”   Today?  It’s not that the more things change the more they stay the same, it’s that some things never change.  At any rate, my wife will be out riding her horse every weekend while the weather is nice, so who’s ignoring whom?  We interrupt this blog to bring you the baseball season…

Hope springs eternal.

Hope springs eternal.


Here’s another monthly guest post of mine from The Blog of Funny Names. The name is funny, but the story is not. I guess I get serious–or at least less flippant–when the baseball season approaches.

The Blog of Funny Names

What a mouthful.  Named for six uncles and nicknamed for the family St. Bernard dog that followed him around as a child,  Christian Frederick Albert John Henry David “Bruno” Betzel (1894-1965) was a dead ball era baseball player whose brief career as an infielder with the St. Louis Cardinals spanned the years 1914 through 1918.  Betzel made the majors at the tender of age of 19 and was through by 24.  Normally, a player prodigious enough to make the show as a teenager has a long, even Hall of Fame caliber career.  Robin Yount was the starting shortstop for the Milwaukee Brewers at 18.  Al Kaline jumped straight from high school to the Detroit Tigers, also at the ripe age of 18.  I have been unable to find any story recounting why Betzel was washed up so young.   At any rate, his name was truly longer than his career, and…

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In Memoriam: Stan the Man

“He could hit .300 with a fountain pen.”–Joe Garagiola on Stan Musial

“You wait for a strike, then you knock the shit out of it.”–Stan Musial on hitting a baseball

Millionth run center

The 1,000,000th run countdown. I talk to the gathered media as Stan Musial naps in the background. Check my 1975 hair!

He was the only baseball hall-of-famer I ever had my picture taken with.  Hell, he was the only hall of fame anything–sports or otherwise–I am likely to ever have my picture taken with.  The fact that he was sitting behind me, bored as hell, as I droned on at a press conference for the 1 millionth run promotion, doesn’t diminish it for me.  I will cherish the image at left as long as I live.   That I was ever that young (it was 1975) or had that much hair is something for science to ponder.

As for Musial, it may be a cliché, but his record speaks for itself.   A record 24-all star appearances (tied with Willie Mays)…a career .331 batting average…top ten ranking all-time in runs scored, RBI’s and Doubles (one more double than Ty Cobb)…the list goes on an on.  He spent his entire post-playing career as an executive for St. Louis Cardinals.  But perhaps he will be most remembered by those who knew him, before and after his playing days, as one of the finest gentlemen in the sports world.  I can attest to that, having spent two days in the SF Bay area with him during the 1974 World Series.

Mercurial PR man Ted Worner, with whose agency I promoted the millionth run contest, said of Musial, “if he hadn’t been a  baseball player, he’d be pumping gas.”   But he was a ballplayer, and that’s all that matters.  He died yesterday at age 92.  R.I.P., Stan.

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