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5th Annual Poll: Funniest Names in The 2017 NFL Draft

Note, this post occurs concurrently on The Blog of Funny Names.   I also blog and podcast on futurist topics at Seeking Delphi.

Voting is closed.  Jake Butt is the official winner of the 2017 Funniest Names In The NFL Draft Poll.

“They certainly give very strange names to diseases.”–Plato

These guys are all destined for something. Bacon, maybe?

Obviously, they didn’t have football in Plato’s day.  Maybe they had a funniest name in the ancient Olympics contest.  Of course, most of those names look funny to us today.

But why discuss the past when we have the funny names of the present?  It’s that time again–the time to honor (and ridicule) the funniest names in the 2017 NFL draft.  This year provides an interesting mix and a veritable embarrassment of riches–there are so many unusual and even bizarre first names, alone, we could almost conduct a separate poll for that.  Consider:  Praise, Amba, Salamo, Jehu, Cethan, JuJu, Budda, Takkarist, Taco, Cordrea, Tanoh, Phazan,  Amara, Fadol, Torrodney, Psalm, Pita and on and on and on.   Yes, there’s a Taco and a Pita.  I’m hungry already.

As for last names, there are several that can only be described as a threat to your oral health if you try to pronounce them.  To simplify things–if that is even possible–I’ve also gone for alliteration, mellifluousness or straight out style points in choosing the finalists.  But write in votes are allowed and encouranged.  Jaquiski Tartt won on a write-in two years ago.  It was that double “t” that did it.   As per tradition, I’ll also tell what I think the name sounds like, if it didn’t belong to a football player.

 

 

Jake Butt, TE, Michigan–Talk about nominative determinism: a tight end named Butt.  Maybe you can make this stuff up; I sure can’t.  He was headed towards a first round selection until he tore his ACL in the Orange Bowl.  That’s OK, his butt is still intact.  He’ll probably go in the third round or so.  What I think his name sounds like: a longshoreman.

Cordrea Tankersly, CB, Clemson–Tankersly certainly scores low on the nominative determinism scale.   With a name like that, he should have been an offensive tackle.  That’s OK, he makes up for it by having one of the more mellifluous names in this year’s draft.  It kind of rolls off the tongue.  Hopefully the wide receivers won’t roll off his coverage.  What I think his name sounds like: a hog farmer from Kansas.

Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan–OK, so Taco is obviously a nickname.  His real name is Vidaunte, which is unusual but not nearly as poetic. Using a nickname certainly didn’t stop Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix from winning our 2014 poll.  So let’s go with Taco.  What I think his name sounds like: a cartoon spokesperson for the South of The Border restaurant chain.

Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova–You might have to visit your dentist if you try to pronounce this guy’s name.   As he is 6’7″ 290lbs., you’ll be lucky if you have any teeth left if you piss him off.  According to the NFL draft pronunciation guide it’s  taw-no  pass-N-yo. No nominative determinism here.  With that pronunciation, he should either be a quarterback or an Indy car driver.   What I think his name sounds like:  a character in a Voltaire play.

A non-football future for Cooper Kupp?

Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington–Proving that players from smaller schools can also hit the big time, in football and in funny names.  He also wins the nod for the best alliterative name this year.   What I think his name sounds like: a Texas ranger (the lawmen, not the baseball team).

Praise Martin-Oguike, LB, Temple–He’s a long shot to get picked in the draft; it’s  more likely he’ll be signed as an undrafted free agent.  But I always like to include at least one double-barreled surname each year, and his is the best of the current crop.  And as for Praise , it has to be the most narcissistic moniker for an athlete since minor league baseball player Wonderful Terrific Monds.  What I think his name sounds like: a Baptist minister.

Honorable mention goes to all of the following–and you can write in any of them:  Budda Baker, Channing Stribling, Tau Lotulelai (Star’s brother), Leo Koloamanangi, Phazahn Odom, Obi Melinfanwu, Amba Etta-Tawo,  JuJu Schuster-Smith, Takkarist McKinley, Pita Taumoepenu and just about anyone and anything else you can spell or attempt to pronounce.  Vote as often as you like.  The polls close at noon EDT, Monday, May 1.

UPDATE, 8:51 AM,EDT, Friday, April 28. 

Upon discovery that the O.J. in O.J. Howard (Alabama, TE) stands for O’Terrius Jabari, a late write-in campaign has been launched.  Just use OJ Howard in the write-in blank, lest your fingers cramp from typing the whole name.  What I think the name sounds like?  How about an Irish wookie in Star Wars XIV.

UPDATE 9:57 AM, EDT, Saturday, April 29.

O’Terrius Jabari Howard has been added as a voting option.

 

 

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Cosmic Quote #81: Play Ball!

“Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”–Vin Scully

Non Sequitur

Ah, it’s that time of the year again.  And the statistical probability is that I will be distracted to no end.  But the baseball season won’t be quite the same without Vin Scully.  He started calling games the year I was born and that was–er, that was–damned if I’m telling.  Just watch the games and keep score.   (If you’re a blasphemer and don’t like baseball, try my other blog (and podcast) at www.seekingdelphi.com.

 

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Taylor Harry Fritz–er, or is it Fritz Harry Taylor?

Note:  This post previously appeared on The Blog of Funny Names

“Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row.”–Vitas Gerulaitis when he finally beat Jimmy Connors after losing to him 16 straight times.

Here at The Blog of Funny Names, we’ve always had a fascination with people who have two last names.  Outerbridge Horsey is the classic.  Then of course, there are those that have  two first names–like the eponymous Tommy John.

Taylor Harry Fritz.

Taylor Harry Fritz.

But seldom have we come across somebody whose name appears to be backwards.  But that would seem to be the case with rising 18-year-old American tennis star, Taylor Harry Fritz. If his name was Fritz Harry Taylor, we wouldn’t consider feting  him in these hallowed pages.  Or Harry Fritz Taylor, or even Harry Taylor Fritz.  It’s as if the names were picked out of a hat to come in that order.

But that aside, the tennis world is not laughing; especially the American tennis world.  No American man has won a major tennis tournament since Andy Roddick won the US Open in 2003.  No American man has even made the quarter finals of a major since Roddick, Mardy Fish (a great funny name as well) and John Isner all did it in 2011.  There is currently no American man ranked higher than #17 in the world (Isner)

However you order his names, Taylor Fritz may just be the guy to change all that.  He won the 2015 junior boys title at the US Open and finished the year as the top ranked junior in the world.   And after turning pro in 2016?  He won his first ATP tour title, qualified for the Australian Open, and has jumped to #65 in the world from a ranking in the 600’s in just a few months.  He is the youngest player currently in the top 100.  Last week at a tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, he got a real taste of the big time,  meeting all–time great Roger Federer in the second round.   He lost, but gave Federer a run for his money at 4-6, 7-5, 4-6.  I don’t know if Federer will be around long enough for Fritz to play him 17 times,  but I’d bet he won’t need that many to beat him.  And that goes no matter what order you say his names in.

As for me, if you’re tired of this blog,  you can go to my new, second blog, Seeking Delphi, and mock me there.

Cheers,

El Marko

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4th annual poll: Funniest Names in the 2016 NFL Draft

This is the 2016 poll.  For the 2017 Funniest Names In The NFL Draft Poll, go HERE

 

“If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead”–Erma Bombeck”

“Rats, suspended again,” said Tom, deflated.**

**If you’re too young to remember Tom Swifties, check out the history here.

It’s that magical time of the year, the flowers are blooming, the weather is warming, and we at BoFN are guffawing at the this year’s crop of outrageous monikers in the annual NFL draft.  So move over, deflategate, there is far more important news on the NFL front.  It’s time for our 4th annual poll of the funniest names in the NFL draft.  The big event starts tomorrow evening, so there’s no time to lose.

Let’s start with a bit of nostalgia as we review the past winners.

2013–Barkevious Mingo–An outside linebacker out of LSU,  Mingo was  a runaway winner of our first poll, and a first round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns.  So far his NFL performance has been less than stellar, but hey, it’s Cleveland.  We at BoFN names just wish his brother Hughtevious would also get drafted.

HaHa

HaHa

2014–Ha’Sean “HaHa” Clinton-Dix–Another first round choice–I just love how thebest names go near the top of the draft.  Do you think the NFL scouts read this blog?  Clinton-Dix has had a solid, if not spectacular first two years at safety with the Green Bay Packers.  He won a close battle for funniest names with Jadaveon Clowney.  When you have a clown and a haha in the same year, you know you have a bumper crop.

2015–Jaquiski Tartt–Tartt came out of nowhere–in more ways than one–to win last year’s vote.  He was the highest player ever drafted out of Samford (you mean there were others?) and won the poll on a write-in vote.  That second t in his name really put an exclamation point on it.  By the way, this safety got his first ever NFL interception in week 14 last year off of Johnny Manziel.  I hope he kept the ball, as Manziel is not likely to be throwing any more.

OK, enough of the red carpet preliminaries.  Let’s get down to brass tacks.  Here are this year’s nominees, including, as always, my take on what their names sound like if they weren’t football players.

Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss–Offensive line is a boring position, at least in the eyes of the casual fan.  But this year’s funny names are just teaming with these behemoths.  Tunsil is one of the early favorites in the poll, and also a likely top 10 first round pick. What I think his name sounds like: The sheriff of Tucson, Arizona c. 1879.

Eli Apple,CB, Ohio State–Formerly known as Eli Woodard, and we just had to have a “formerly known as” in honor of the late musician formerly known as “the artist formerly known as Prince.”  Apple made some less than happy news when he complained to the NFL back in March that an Atlanta assistant coach asked him if he was gay.  Maybe it was that “formerly known as” that threw the guy off?   What I think his name sounds like: Prince’s former road manager.

Halapoulivaati Vitai–Wow.  I mean, wow.  Say this name five times fast and you might hyperventilate and pass out.  That’s even if you can say it right once.  For the record, it’s pronounced hal-lah-poo-li-VAH-tee  VIE-tie.  It’s no surprise he is used to hearing it wrong: “It happens every day,” says offensive tackle from the TCU Horned Frogs, “even I mess up my name.”  You read that right, a guy who can’t even pronounce his own name who played for the college with the funniest team nickname in the entire NCAA.  This guy is a force to be reckoned with.   His parents have funny names, too. Takilivi and Shirley.  (Shirley! Really!?)  What I think his name sounds like: um…er…any suggestions? I can hardly hear it, let alone pronounce it.

Leonte Caroo–WR, Rutgers.  We had to get a player in there from the offense side of the ball.  But a player from New Jersey?  I’m not so sure.  Seeing as it’s the state that gave us both Bruce Springsteen and Chris Christie, this guy could go either way. What I think his name sounds like: An animal character in The Jungle Book.

Cody Whitehair–OG Kansas State.  Another offensive lineman, and at 6’4″, 310lbs, he won’t need his white hair to ward off opposing defensive ends. What I think his name sounds like: chief of the Iroquois nation.

Briean Boddy-Calhoun–a running back who played for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, he comes from only the second funniest college team name, but he definitely has the best hyphenated name in the draft since Blidi Wreh-Wilson in 2013. What I think his name sounds like: a Victoria’s Secret model.

As usual there are plenty of write-in candidates, including, but not limited to, Charone Peake, Germain Ifidi, Bronson Kafusi, Pharoh Cooper, Fhan Cooper, Rees Odhiambo and Romeo Okwara.  The rules are simple. The voting starts now.  Vote as often as you like, and though the draft ends Saturday, we’ll keep this open through noon Monday.  Look for results in the next Funny Names in the News, which might even be next Friday.

[Note: Be sure to check out my futurist blog and podcast at Seeking Delphi.]

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Time Out: 3rd Annual Funniest Name in the NFL Draft Poll

Note: This post runs concurrently on The Blog of Funny Names

“Baseball players are smarter than football players.  How often have you seen a baseball team penalized for too many men on the field?”–Jim Boutan

I don’t know if baseball players are smarter than football players.  But I do know that, in recent years, football players certainly have had a leg up on baseball players in one respect: funny names.  One need only look at the previous two editions of Funniest Name in the NFL Draft to realize this.  Not only were the 2013 poll winner Barkevious Mingo, 2014 poll winner Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and 2014 runner-up Jadaveon Clowney over the top  funnynames,  but all three of them were high first round picks.  Clowney was actually last year’s overall number one.

But this brings us to a dilemma.  It is well known that, in any professional sport, some years produce deep draft crops, some not so much so.  I don’t know about athletic talent, but this year’s funny name draft class is just not as over-the-top all-star as the past two years.  And the likely first round is totally devoid of candidates.  That said, the field is wide open and full of lower round candidates whose names look like an explosion in a Lithuanian newsprint factory.  Be careful pronouncing some of these,  your tongue and lips might cramp.

Without further ado, here are this year’s nominees, peppered with quotes that prove that Yogi Berra has nothing on the pundits of pigskin.

Jay Ajayi--his hair is longer than his name, and more symmetrical!

Jay Ajayi–his hair is longer than his name, and more symmetrical!

Jay Ajayi, RB, Oregon State–He was overshadowed by the potent offense of cross state rival Oregon, known for the passing and scrambling of QB Marcus Mariota–but Ajayi is one of the top running backs in this year’s field and a likely second round pick.  Note that if you drop the vowels at the beginning and end of his last name, he could give perennial Minor League Baseball Moniker Madness also-ran Jose Jose a run for his money as best repetitive name in sports.  Anyway, I don’t know if he’ll win the funny name poll, but he has the funniest hair, hands down.  Likely draft position: 2nd round.

“Nobody in football should be called a genius.  A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”–Joe Theismann

Obum Gwacham, Defenseive End, Oregon State–What’s worse than being a running back on a team overshadowed by a cross-state prolific passing-based offense?  Being a defender on that team.  But while Gwachum will likely go in the late rounds of this year’s draft, he’s my early even money favorite to win the funny named poll.  He was born in Nigeria, and considering he’s not the only one of his countrymen in the running, maybe there was an explosion in a Nigerian Scrabble® factory.  By the way, his name, in the native tongue, means “son of god.” If he can walk on wet Astroturf, I wouldn’t bet against him.  Likely draft position: round 6 or 7.

“People say I’ll be drafted in the first round–maybe higher.”–Craig Heyward

Jim Otto--the original double 0

Jim Otto–the original double 0

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Defensive End, UCLA–The second of three Nigerians in the field, I don’t recommend trying to say  this name too quickly.  You could hyperventilate and pass out.  Hey, I just nominate them, I don’t pronounce them.   I pity the TV commentators who will have to do so.  Maybe they will just call him “O O” and they could even give him a double zero Jersey number, like Jim Otto.  Likely draft position: 2nd round.

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 “I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first.”–George Rogers

Huh-RO-niss!!

Huh-RO-niss!!

Hroniss Grasu–Center, Oregon–First things first. That’s  three candidates so far from Oregon, and all of the first four from the Pac-12.  Grasu might be a center, but the country is clearly off-center in funny-named players this year.  For geographical origin diversity, Grasu is of Romanian decent.  His parents emigrated from Romania to Los Angeles in 1982 and opened Greco’s Roman Pizza on Hollywood Boulevard, which is still in business today.  Romanian New York pizza?  Only in L.A.  Likely draft position: round 3.

“I have two secret weapons: my legs, my arms and my brain.”–Michael Vick

Ali Marpet–Center, Hobart College–While we’re going for geographical diversity, let’s also throw in ethnic and academic variety as well.  As an economics major at Division III Hobart, Marpet seemed more likely headed to Wall Street than the NFL.  Then the scouts noticed him and the rest, as they say, will soon be history.  Marpet was named to the Jewish Sports Review’s 2013 All-America Team.  Likely draft position: 2nd or 3rd round.

“If defensive linemen’s I.Q.’s were five points lower, they’d be geraniums.”–Russ Francis

Xzavier Dickson–Outside Linebacker, Alabama–It’s hard not to include any Xaviers in any funny name accounting.   Dickson is borderline to even be picked in the draft at all this year, but hey, we had two Xavier’s in last year’s poll–I just had to continue the tradition.  But that spelling: Xzavier!!?   No, that’s not a typo–well, not here, but  maybe on his birth certificate.  I just couldn’t resist including this one–though maybe he’s more suited for The Blog of Oddly Spelled Names.   Likely draft posit: Round 7, or undrafted free agent.

That does it for the ballot nominees.  Among the also-rans eligible for write-in are Jaquishi Tartt, SS, Samford; Jeremiah Poutasi, OG, Utah; Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon (another Oregon player of Nigerian descent!); Deiontrez Mount, OLB, Louisville; and Kaleb Eulls, DT, Mississippi State.

Perhaps it’s not as rich a crowd as in the previous two years, but they are still worthy of note.   The draft begins tomorrow night, but our voting opens now.  The balloting closes at noon EDT, one week from today–results will be reported in next weeks Funny Names in the News.  Vote as often as you like, but don’t forget the words of Joseph Stalin: “The people who cast the votes don’t decide an election, the people who count the votes do.”   Mwah-ha-ha.

 

 

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Time Out: Second Annual Outerbridge Horsey Awards for the Funniest Names on the Planet

Note:  This post appeared yesterday under a different name on The Blog of Funny Names

“Awards do not pay the mortgage.”–Kevin Chamberlin

I’m taking a poll.  All those who don’t agree with the above quote, send me $100.  Let’s prove it wrong.

Now, let’s get down to business.  2014 may be over, but the awards season for its achievements is just beginning.  Not to be outdone, let’s be the first to throw out meaningless accolades in the new year, with the second annual Outerbridge Horsey Awards, honoring the best of the past year’s funny names previously covered in these pages.  Yes, we do consider it an honor.  By the way, due to numerous complaints from readers, we have dropped last year’s requirement that you be wearing a tuxedo or evening gown when you read this post.  But please, no tank tops or bare feet;  and if you do chose formal attire, wearing both a tuxedo and an evening gown at the same time would be awesome!

It’s going to be tough to outdo last year’s winners.  How do you top the likes of 2013 Funny-Named Athlete of the YearBarkevious Mingo  and 2013 Funny Name in the News of the YearJanice “Lokelani” Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele?  The latter  should also win a special achievement award as the longest name ever presented herein–or maybe anywhere else for that matter.   Anyway, we may not be able to top them, but let’s give it a go.

Two of these will be awarded to Englebert Humperdinck.  Sadly, this won't make a whole horse.

Two of these will be awarded for Englebert Humperdinck. Sadly, this still doesn’t make a whole horse.

We’ll start with a bit of nostalgia and bestow the 2014 Funny-named Entertainer of the Year on Engelbert Humperdinck.  Both of them!  The cheesy 1960’s and 70’s British pop singer and the not-quite-as-cheesy 19th century German opera composer.   British Englebert had a number of top 40 hits back in the day, the first and biggest of which, Release Me, peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April of 1967.  German Englebert composed any number of forgotten hodge-podges, but had one smashing success, Hänsel und Gretel, which premiered in 1893 under the baton of one Richard Strauss.  It has held down the #1 spot on the Fairy Tale-Themed Opera hit parade for most of the 120+ years since.  Oh, he also had a cheesy pop singer copy his name.  Our correspondent Kerbey originally profiled the British Engelbert back in April of last year, and included a shout out to the late German composer.

Next up is the 2014 Funny Named Athlete of the Year award, and the field of nominees is a crowded one.  With the likes of World Series MVP and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Madison Bumgarner, Funniest Names in the NFL Draft poll runner-up Jadaveon Clowney,  Minor League Baseball Moniker Madness runner-up Joey Pankake,  and probable NFL Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year Odell Beckham, Jr. all in the running, it’s going to be hard to pick a winner.   But since we have to,  the envelope please!

And the winner is….none of the above, because there is just no way we can deny our readers’ wishes.  The winner is the 2014 Funniest Name in the NFL Draft poll champion Ha-Ha Clinton Dix.   He was not chosen as early in the NFL draft as Clowney and did not have as great a rookie year as Beckham, Jr.  But he sure led the league in bad jokes on his name.

Next, we move on to Funny-Named Politician of the Year. I was very tempted to delve into the realm of nostalgia again, and award posthumous trophies to two classics I profiled back in July:  Harry Baals and Wankard Pooser.  But those names are in such an elite class of their own, it seems almost unfair to award them Horseys.   So instead, we’ll actually name this award after them, and give the 2014 Wankard–Baals Award for the funniest name in politics to one Zephyr Rains Teachout.   Profiled by Arto back in September, Ms. Teachout had the audacity to challenge the unfunny-named, but very powerful Andrew Cuomo, for the New York Democratic gubernatorial nomination.  She lost; but she won our hearts.  Being that she is a professor of constitutional law–a teacher!–at the Vermont School of Law, we need to create another new honor for actually being her name.   Let’s call it the Major Major Major Major Aptly-Named Award.   Too bad she doesn’t look like Henry Fonda;  the image below could have been her campaign poster.

He's not Major Major Major Major, but he sure looks like him.

He’s not Major Major Major Major, but he sure looks like him.

Moving on to the 2014 Funniest Name in the News Award, we have a dilemma.  Nothing could possibly top the aforementioned 2013 winner, Janice K.  We have limited storage space on WordPress, so we can only spell out her name so many times, even though the abbreviation makes her appear to be the sister of  Joseph K., from Kafka’s The Trial.   And again, space limitations prevent us from naming the award after her.  So let’s be brief.  The winner this year is pop singer Iggy Azalea, for repeated news mentions mainly due to legal problems and for having a name that sounds more like a coniferous evergreen than an actual person.  She was first covered here in a Funny Names in the News post in August.  Hopefully this will be her last mention.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for–well, I’ve been waiting for it because my hands are cramping up from all this typing–the ultimate award, The 2014 Funny-Named Person of the Year.

May we have a drum roll please.  Ratattattat

And now a trumpet fanfare.  Tarantara

And finally, one stupendous, ear-splitting volley of flatulence!  Pffffffffffttttttttttttt!

And if that introduction did not clue you in to the identity of the winner, you clearly have not been reading this blog very closely.   Because, yes, our winner is the man who famously described his own name as sounding like “a fart in a bathtub,”  the irrepressible British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.  He’s been nominated for both an Emmy as best actor for his portrayal of the title character in the BBC  TV series Sherlock, and for a Golden Globe as best actor for his portrayal of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.  He’ll almost certainly get an Oscar nomination for the latter role, as well.  But he doesn’t have to wait to actually win an award.  He’s got one now.  So let’s give him a big round of applause and drown out all that flatulence.  Or at least the sound of it.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Funny-Named Person of the Year.  Only his name is flatulent.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Funny-Named Person of the Year. Only his name is flatulent.

Check out the insanity on my own blog here,  and have a happy and prosperous 2015

Cheers,

 

 

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Ova, Ova, Ova: Funny names in the 2014 U.S. Open

As luck would have it, my second annual sojourn to the U.S. Open Tennis Championships just happens to fall on the same day as my monthly guest post on The Blog of Funny Names.  This post appears there simultaneously; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“It’s true I always try to be as seductive as possible, but I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t play tennis.”–Anna Kournikova

Kournakova.  Yes, she also plays tennis.

Kournakova. Yes, she also plays tennis.

Rybarikova…Rodionova…Cepelova…Strycova…Pronkova…to the uninitiated these names may sound like they came straight from the roster of the Moscow Ballet.   In fact, they are just a handful of the 21 players whose last names end in “ova” in the Women’s singles main draw at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships now into the second week of play.   It seems that eastern European women would rather play tennis than dance–and why not? There is certainly more money in hitting those little yellow balls around.

So what about the men?  C’mon, now, you know better.  Men don’t have ova.   No, really.  There is not a single “ova” name in the men’s singles draw.    So where are all the Eastern European men whose surnames end in “ova?”  Hmm.  Maybe we should check the roster of the Moscow Ballet.

On the subject of the above quoted Anna Kournikova, it should be noted that the reigning USTA junior girls champion,  15-year-old American CiCi Bellis became the youngest woman to win a main draw singles match at the US Open since Kournakova in 1996.     And whom did Bellis beat?  Why Dominka Cibulkova, of course.

As for those of the “Y” chromosome persuasion, it seems the Eastern Europeans also contribute, with notable names including Czechs Blaz Kavil and Jiri Vesely and Slavakian Luckas Lacko.  All three were all somewhat lacko, though, and got knocked out in the early rounds, as did  Fecundo Bagnis, who just might be Bilbo Baggins’s Argentinian cousin.

Batten down the hatches, there's a Tornado coming.

Batten down the hatches, there’s a Tornado coming.

In the juniors,  the best name is a holdover from last year’s girl’s finals.  That would be Tornado Black.  What makes her name even more awesome is that her younger sister, Hurricane Black,  should be along to join her in a couple of years.  Who could ever hope to beat a doubles team named Tornado and Hurricane?

We can’t leave out the boy’s junior draw, where promising up and coming names winning first round matches included Korean Duckhee Lee and Americans Usue Maitane Arconada and Taylor Harry Fritz.  That last one is worthy of some discussion.  We’ve at times made comments about people who have two first names (like the eponymous Tommy John) and two last names (think Harrison Ford).  But in this case, we are looking at last name first and first name last.  Or for that matter,  maybe it’s inside out.  Taylor Harry Fritz?   Harry Fritz Taylor?  Fritz Taylor Harry?   No matter, as long as he wins.

I’ll actually be at the Open today…I’ll report in through the comments if I see any other newsworthy names anywhere else.   Anywhere.   Chair umpires, beer vendors, washroom attendants.  Don’t ever assume that I have a life.

Cheers 🙂

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Time Out: Moniker Madness 2014

Note: This post runs concurrently under a different name on The Blog of Funny Names

“Every time I sign a ball I thank my lucky stars I wasn’t born Covelski or Wambgnass or Peckingpaugh”–Mel Ott

Mel Ott,  looking as if he just tried to sign his name "Wambgnass."

Mel Ott, looking as if he just tried to sign his name “Wambgnass.”

Ol’ Mr. Ott may be happy for not being any of the names above,  but he never would have won the annual minor league baseball Moniker Madness competition with his name.  He may be a 500-home run Hall-of-Famer, but we at The Blog of Funny Names march to a different drummer.  We’d sooner idolize the likes of past Moniker Madness winners, like Rock Shoulders, Will Startup and Sicnarf Loospstok, the latter of whom was aided by some late ballot-stuffing by the BOFN staff to win last year’s contest.  This year, another 75 amazing and ridiculous names are in the running–you can cast your official vote on the office Minor League Baseball Moniker Madness site through Thursday.

But the poll that really counts is the one we run, where we let our readers select their favorites.   Five of the current top 10 in the standings are profiled below–you can vote for your choice at the bottom of the page.

But first, something completely different.  I can’t help but mention that some of this year’s names seem to fall into some distinct categories–divisions, if you will.  These divisions are:

The “Have Baseballs, Will Travel” division,  including Tommy Toledo, Montana DuRapau and Montreal Robertson;  The “What’s on the Menu” division, starring Mark Hamburger, Joey Pankake and Renzo Martini;  the “I’m Masquerading as a Celebrity” division, with Burt Reynolds and Joan Baez;  and the “With a Name Like This, I Should Have Been a Porn Star,” division comprised of  Steel Russell,  Brock Dyxhoorn and Kieran Lovegrove.

OK, that’s out of my system.  Now, here are the five BOFN nominees you can vote for on this page–all of them are in the top 10 in the Moniker Madness standings as of this writing.  As per last year, I’ll play my favorite name game,  which is speculating what these names sound like their owners should have been if they weren’t baseball players.

Brooks Pounders–Who he is: a journeyman minor league pitcher in the KC Royals organization.  With a name like that, you’d figure he’d be pounding the strike zone, and he has averaged slightly less than 3 walks per nine innings in his 6 year career.  Unfortunately, he’s still in A ball, three levels below MLB.  Who I think his name sounds like?  The IBO Cruiserweight boxing champion of the world.

Venn Biter–Who his is: a 2013 outfield draft choice by the Phillies, currently laboring in the Gulf Coast Rookie League.  Who I think his name sounds like? Count Dracula’s nephew.

Tommy Toledo–Who he is:  a pitcher in The Milwaukee Brewers organization.  Who I think his name sounds like?  President of the Longshoremen,  local #4127.

Damien Magnifico–Who he is:  another Brewers pitcher–an embarrassment of funny names for the Brew Crew.  Who I think his name sounds like?  The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

No, this is not Joey Pankake

No, this is not Joey Pankake

Joey Pankake–Who he is: a 2014 7th round draft choice of the Detroit Tigers,  playing right here in Connecticut in the NY-Penn League.  Who I think his name sounds like?  A less than successful mafia hit man from Brooklyn,  played by Joe Pesci.

This is.

This is.

 

With 75 names to chose from, we’ll allow write in votes.  Heck, vote for your own kid in little league if his–or her–name is funny.

 

 

 

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Timeout: Hayden Siddhartha Finch and Joe Shlabotnik

This post also appears today under a different name on The Blog of Funny Names

 “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction.  Fiction has to make sense.”–Mark Twain

With Minor League Baseball’s annual Moniker Madness competition just a few weeks away,  what better time to investigate and recount the stories of two of the most curious names in baseball history?   Not only are the names unusual, but the stories more so, because neither of them ever actually existed.

Sidd Finch.  He looks cuter with the French Horn.

Sidd Finch. He looks cuter with the French Horn.

Hayden Siddhartha “Sidd” Finch (Born and Died, April 1, 1985)  is to baseball what Piltdown Man is to anthropology–the most famous hoax ever recorded.  Concocted by iconic sports author George Plimpton as an April Fools day prank for the April, 1, 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated,  Finch was touted as a super rookie pitcher with the New York Mets.  According to the incredible story–a bit too incredible to get many people to believe it–Finch grew up in an orphanage in Tibet where he learned meditation, yoga and to play the French horn.   Supposedly he had never played baseball before his tryout in Mets spring camp that year but could pitch the ball an astounding 168mph without warming up and while wearing only one shoe with the other foot bare.   It was reported that he was still undecided between a career as a professional baseball player or professional  French horn player. I remember this story vividly, because one of my best friends called me and urged me to get a copy of Sports Illustrated and read the story.   The company I worked for at the time had front season box seats at Shea Stadium for the Mets;  my friend thought I would fall for the story and get really psyched to get a good close up look at this guy.  It didn’t work; I  was not buying it.   From the beginning, something didn’t seem right.  The pictures didn’t feel genuine; they appeared staged.  Then I got to the 168 mph fastball.  I’m an ex-sportscaster and major baseball aficionado–I stopped right there.  The fastest

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

pitch ever officially recorded at that time was 103mph (since surpassed by current Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman at 105 mph).  I don’t care if the guy had a Howitzer for a right arm, there is no way any human being was going to pitch near that fast.  I turned the front page, looked at the issue date, and said “April Fools.” Ironically, that 1985 Mets team had no need of a Sidd Finch.   Their real super rookie pitcher, Dwight Gooden, had won NL Rookie of the Year award the previous season.  He proceeded to win the NL Cy Young award in 1985 and helped lead the Mets to their best season in history in 1986: 108 wins and a World Series championship.  The only sad thing about this story?  The current Mets probably couldn’t win with five Sidd Finches.

Good 'ol Charlie Brown

Good ‘ol Charlie Brown

Joe Shlabotnik (b.??-d??) was the favorite player of the most famous fictional baseball fan in the history of the universe:  Charlie Brown.  Joe Shlabotnik, in the “Peanuts” world, was to CharlieBrownFootballbaseball, as that infamous failed place kick was to football.  It was Lucy’s ultimate diss of Charlie.  Though Joe was a marginal player who spent most of his time in the minors, Charlie pined for his baseball card but could never get it.  On one occasion in the early 1960’s he squandered $5.00 on 500 penny packs of cards, and did not get one single Joe Shlabotnik.  Lucy then bought one pack, got a Shlabotnik but refused to trade it to Charlie Brown, even for the offer of all those hundreds of penny packs.  Charlie walked away in disgust, and Lucy proceeded to throw Joe in the trash.  “He’s not as cute as I thought,” she opined. With names like Zealous Wheeler, Jose Jose, and 2013 winner Sicnarf Loopstok, we’ve often commented that Minor League Baseball’s Moniker Madness has names that you couldn’t possibly make up.  Well, maybe, but George Plimpton and Charles Schulz might have had something to say about that.

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In Memoriam: Candlestick Park

“The trouble with this ball park is that they built it alongside the bay.  They should have built it under the bay.”–Roger Maris

“If I had to play here, I’d think seriously about quitting the game.”–Rocky Colovito

Candlestick in its early days.

Candlestick in its early days.

It’s no secret that Candlestick Park was not exactly loved by major league baseball players, nor by the ownership of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.  But as possibly it’s last professional sporting event–last night’s 49ers-Falcons Monday Night Football game–has been played, it’s still worth noting some of the memorable events and players that graced this less-than-venerable venue.

It’s notable that Willie Mays put up some of the best offensive numbers in MLB history while playing more than half of the home games in his career there.  He battled the cold driving winds–conditions that had fans donning winter coats and blankets at times, even in mid-summer.  He became an opposite field hitter to go with the prevailing winds that on one occasion were so strong they blew a pitcher off the mound.  Names like McCovey, Marichal and  Bonds (both Bobby and Barry) also donned the SF Giants logo on this field.

As for football, there is no secret that the 49ers have wanted a new field for years, wanting more capacity and more modern amenities.  But NFL fans will remember for all times the championship exploits of  the likes of Montana, Young, Rice, Lott and Clark.

So what’s my point?  Lost in all the postmortems, let’s not forget one other brief moment in history.   Candlestick Park is where Bob Watson scored baseball’s 1 millionth run,  a story which I effectively created, and recount below.

Originally posted July 8, 2012

“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.

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