Jose Altuve doesn't have a nickname.
Think about that. He doesn't have a stupid, obvious nickname, like Mighty Mouse. He doesn't have an obscure nickname, like El Tarsero. He's a) good, b) a fan favorite, and c) small enough to rent a condo in Jayson Werth's beard, yet he doesn't have a nickname. It will probably happen, but for right now, he's just Jose Altuve. That's a shame.
But other players get nicknames. A quick spin around Baseball Reference shows us there are nicknames for other players that you might not have heard of. Hell, the player might not have heard of them in some cases. A look at five of most curious, as listed on Baseball Reference:
Mike Trout is from Millville, New Jersey. Someone slapped "meteor" at the end of his hometown, and his nickname was born. Let's resort to an analogy to explore just how awful this nickname is.
Secretary of Defense: After sixteen years of research and development, we can finally announce the world's first mechanized soldier.
Secretary of Defense: He is indestructible, made from a specialized ruthenium-titanium alloy that can withstand heat up to 5400 degrees.
Secretary of Defense: He is powered by an internal fission reactor, which also allows him to act as a small thermonuclear weapon behind enemy lines, if needed. And he is, of course, loaded with the most advanced weapons ever developed, making him a one-man army that will change the way we think about modern warfare.
President: What do you call him?
Secretary of Defense: Fartacus.
We're talking Mike Trout, here. One of the most electric young talents in recent memory -- the perfect ballplayer. And his nickname is an alliterative thing based on his hometown? It's like a failed superhero from 1934, or an old-timey baseball nickname in a screenplay written by someone who has never watched a game of baseball in his life. Try harder, America. There's a lot counting on this.
The first Google search result for "Matt Holliday big daddy": His Baseball Reference page.
Second Google result: A comment on a Baseball Nation post from someone who expressed surprise that Matt Holliday's nickname on Baseball Reference is "Big Daddy."
Third result: A guy named Big Daddy J sharing his fantasy team's roster on a Yahoo! message board.
Eighth result: "Is matt holliday gay?"
I'm pretty sure that no one has ever called Matt Holliday "Big Daddy." Besides, the nickname is spoken for. If you try to reuse it, Sean Connery cuts your head off with a sword.
When I wrote the first article of this series, Pedroia made it for "Laser Show." Right after I wrote it, "Muddy Chicken" was coined. Next year around this time, please join me as we talk about Pedroia's newest nickname, "Stained Futon" or "Wasabi-Coated Peas."
The "Muddy Chicken" one was actually a thing for two months! And then it wasn't. The sad timeline on Google:
Ballplayers see each other nude every day, sooooooo, when you see that one ballplayer was given the nickname "Saturn Nuts" by one of his teammates, you have to assume the worst. There were really only two options: An unfortunately placed tribal-ring tattoo, or a horrible genetic condition. Actually, there are countless options. And they're all horrible to think of. But it's almost better not to know the origin.
As usual, though, Carson Cistulli ruined everything. This time, he ruined everything by tracking down the origin of the nickname. Apparently it came from a Sons of Sam Horn post written by Curt Schilling during the 2007 playoffs:
FWIW I take the kid Friday night, he's got nuts the size of Saturn.
Elegant. Simple. Poetic. Curt Schilling.
Because when you think of Joe Saunders, you think of his cannon arm. It's literally an explosive weapon! Literally! A spectrum of acceptability:
A terrible nickname if … it had to do with him throwing hard, or if it just sounds nicknamey.
A good nickname if … it had to do with him showing up in the clubhouse wearing an eyepatch for a temporary medical condition.
A great nickname if … every time after someone else delivers the punchline to a joke, Saunders' face is frozen in a look of horror and surprise, comically exaggerated droplets of sweat shooting out of his head, as he thinks to himself, I can't believe they just said that.
Mostly, though, I'm including Saunders to let you know that Bazooka Joe still exists, and it's as culturally relevant as ever.