Crash Bag, Vol. 90: Naming Your Baby

Greetings. Let’s talk about how great it is that Bobby Abreu is on the Phillies again.

@Wzeiders: “how great is it that Bobby Abreu is a Phillie again, even if it’s just a fleeting dream I’m scared to wake from?”

It’s pretty great, I tell ya. It’s pretty great. I try not to swear above the break in these posts, but my official position on Bobby Abreu is that if you don’t love him, or at least recognize what a great player he was, you can fuck off and die.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I’ve all but given up preaching to Abreu haters, because even if you grant that Abreu was a clubhouse cancer or lazy or whatever (which I don’t), thinking those things outweigh a .416 OBP make you 1) a tightass and 2) wrong, which is a combination of personality traits that make me want to avoid people rather than argue with them. Peace be with you, and may God have mercy on your soul.

It’s great for four reasons:

  1. It’s a nice baseball move–best case scenario is that he comes back and is a nice bench bat and emergency outfielder, two positions that have been weaknesses for the Phillies of late, to the point where John Bowker once batted for this team. Worst case scenario is he displaces Marlon Byrd for some reason, and then sucks, and the Phillies win 69 games this year instead of 71. Realistic worst case is he washes out in March. The Phillies haven’t invested anything in him, and there’s nobody for him to block.
  2. Anything that keeps John Mayberry out of the lineup makes me happy.
  3. Nostalgia. Even if Abreu looks like Jim Thome did two years ago–old and out of his depth–seeing him in the uniform again will make a greater impact on my happiness than the difference between fourth place and third place in the division.
  4. Snark all you want about his age, but Abreu’s biggest asset has always been his plate discipline. That means Ruben Amaro just went off the board to get a player who walks a lot and managed not to give him a multi-year, major league deal. This is progress.

@gberry523: “If Abreu is back, what’s Pat the Bat up to this year?”

B-Ref says The Bat made $70 million in his career, and even factoring in taxes and a divorce, he’s got to have a fair chunk of that still sitting around. If I had that kind of money, and I was 37, single and I looked like Pat Burrell, I’d go to Europe or something for the summer, then spend the rest of the year Burrelling people’s girls.

@michaelweil: “odds that abreu has a better year than Byrd? (fyi that Q comes from the delivery room; maybe a crashbag shout out to my soon to be born son/worlds newest phillie fan?)”

Hey, mazel tov. If you haven’t picked a name yet, “Crashburn” is a pretty good one for boys. My wife won’t let me name our future hypothetical son something awesome and Teutonic like Jens or Thor or Magnus, so I might have to call this marriage quits and find a woman who will. But more on naming babies later–best of luck to you and the missus and young Crashburn, and you should get back to doing whatever it is would-be fathers do in the delivery room before they notice you’re on Twitter.

But to answer your question: those odds are remote. If I had to put money on an outcome, I’d put it on the Phillies cutting Abreu before they head north. He hasn’t played major league ball in a year and hasn’t been a regular in two. There’s actually never been a season in which both Byrd and Abreu were in the majors and Byrd posted a higher OPS+, but Byrd also played 147 games last year, so I’d at least bet on him having enough of a lockdown on right field that he’d have to be truly terrible in order for Abreu to usurp him.

@CygnusXS: “How many PEDs should Amaro be sneaking into Howard’s food?”

Well, considering that the Yankees’ entire offseason strategy relied on MLB going completely medieval on one of the Yankees’ own players and suspending him for the entire season, that not only absolves teams of the responsibility to police their own players’ compliance with the rules, it creates an incentive for teams to get players on bad contracts suspended.

So considering that there was never a moment where Ryan Howard‘s contract exension was anything but a complete disaster, Ruben Amaro should be sneaking all the PEDs into Howard’s food. He should spike Howard’s $5 footlong with enough HGH to make a double amputee grow back his legs, then the day after the 50-game suspension ends, feed him more and more testosterone until eventually his eyes turn yellow and he wakes up one morning and finds himself on Alpe d’Huez with the U.S. Postal Service cycling team. In short, MLB’s anti-drug regime is embarrassing and not particularly effective in stamping out PED usage.

@Ut26: “If current Phillies wanted to become Winter Olympic athletes, what events would they pursue? Who has the best medal hopes?”

Well, the thing about baseball is that it relies less on sheer athleticism than it relies on hand-eye coordination. I don’t know how many elite hockey or basketball or soccer players you’d describe as corpulent, but nobody who looks like Heath Bell is making the All-Star team in the NBA. And unlike the Summer Olympics, almost every sport you’ll see in Sochi is going to rely on speed in some form, often speed combined with incredible body control and balance, and speed isn’t really an area of great strength for the Phillies right now. But hey, if Europeans can do it, anyone can do it. Let’s put together a team.

  • Figure Skating: Ben Revere The knock on Revere is his lack of power and arm strength, but he’s got great speed, balance and bat control, and judging by the way he flings himself around center field, he could probably pull off the spins and jumps required for figure skating if he trained for it. Plus, figure skating isn’t objective–you need to exhibit charisma and joie de vivre and other things the French made up to hide the fact that Americans are superior athletes. Revere is by far the most charismatic Phillie, and judging by the way people are gushing about Jason Brown, Revere would be a big hit. A crowd favorite for sure, but not a metal contender for the same reason he’ll never be a star baseball player–the best he can do is a triple.
  • Ice Hockey: Tyson Gillies, Phillippe Aumont, Kevin Frandsen, Antonio Bastardo. Aumont and Gillies are Canadian–Gillies even played AAA hockey growing up. And Gillies started the first line brawl in World Baseball Classic history last spring when he punched Alfredo Aceves and ran away, so we’ve got that going for us. Frandsen is handsome and bearded, as hockey players are, and is that kind of third-line grinder type that the Maple Leafs, for instance, are convinced win you games more frequently that guys who can actually score. And Bastardo…well, apparently you know hockey players because they have big butts. Because of the muscles you use in hockey, you develop phenomenal lower-body strength, to the point where elite women’s hockey players complain about not being able to find pants that fit right. Bastardo’s inclusion is a bet that the principle of Hockey Butt goes both ways.
  • Biathlon: Cliff Lee Lee’s a hunter, so you figure he’s good with a gun, and he gets around pretty well for a pitcher, so I bet he could cross-country ski a little too. He’s the kind of methodical, unflappable person who could persevere through a sport that involves cross-country skiing. Probably a fringe medal contender.
  • Curling: Carlos Ruiz, Bobby Abreu, Darin Ruf, Justin De Fratus Curling is a game of subtlety and patience. You’d want Abreu’s steady veteran hand as the skip, with Chooch as his vice skip. Those two have discipline and are two of the headier players on the team. Ruf’s another low heart rate kind of guy, but with the strength and stamina to sweep for 10 ends (if you’ve never curled, sweeping is way more physical than you’d think), and De Fratus rounds out the group as the lead. He’s got the energy to sweep consistently, and like Ruf, is still early enough in his career that he’d do whatever Abreu tells him. A serious medal contender.
  • Speed Skating: Domonic Brown (long track) and Jimmy Rollins (short track): Jayson Werth would have been perfect for speed skating, but Dom Brown is kind of long-striding and powerful. Short track is a little choppier, with less emphasis on out-and-out speed and endurance and more on guile, tactics and explosiveness, which doesn’t suit Rollins as well as well as it would have five years ago, but I bet he doesn’t embarrass himself.
  • Downhill Skiing: Ryan Howard and John Mayberry The key to downhill skiing is when you come to a curve, you don’t want to hit anything.
  • Luge: Ethan Martin One of the best sliders in the organization. It’s like that last joke, but with a different pitch.
  • Bobsled: Chase Utley and Cody Asche So the key to bobsled is to push like a lunatic for about five seconds, then you need one guy with a light touch and nerves of steel to guide the sled down the hill quickly, but not so quickly you flip the sled and die. Utley’s got the power off the line to push and the nerves to drive, and Asche’s big and strong enough to push, but not so big and strong he wouldn’t be able to hop in the sled and get his head down. I bet you anything an Utley/Asche two-man sled would beat wholesale ass at the Olympics. By far the Phillies’ best medal hope.

@SoMuchForPathos: “in honor of their festival tour, top ten Outkast songs.”

This list is going to piss people off, because I owned a couple of their albums and loved Idlewild when I saw it in theaters, but if I’m in the top 50 percent of OutKast fans, I’d be shocked. So take this for what it’s worth, and if you think I don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re probably right:

  1. The Whole World
  2. Idlewild Blue (Don’tchu Worry ‘Bout Me) (Yes. Second. Sue me.)
  3. So Fresh, So  Clean
  4. B.O.B.
  5. Ms. Jackson
  6. Church
  7. Aquemini
  8. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
  9. PJ & Rooster
  10. Hey Ya (Would’ve been No. 2 before I finally got tired of it sometime around 2011)

We end with a doozy.

@_magowan: “need you to weigh in on the Trenton Thunder bat dog puppy name vote.”

Yeah, so the Thunder have been doing this thing for years where they have a golden retriever serve as a bat boy. The first bat dog, Chase, retired last year at age 13 and died shortly thereafter, and if you don’t want to cry, you should totally not read Howard Megdal’s story about Chase for Sports on Earth. Chase’s son Derby, who took over bat dog duties last year, apparently met a nice lady dog named Reba at Bark at the Park night last year, and now they’ve had puppies and they’re just cuter than all getout.

The plan is to train the boy puppy to go into the family business–and while we’re on the subject, why on the boy puppy? Are girl puppies incapable of performing Bat Dog duty? “Retrieve” is in the name of the species, for crying out loud, and I personally object to the openly misogynistic message sent by the Trenton Thunder Bat Dogs.

Anyway, this is where we get back to talking about naming your baby Thor. Derby fils is going to Bat Dog school once he gets a name, while his sister learns to be a secretary or something, one presumes, and the Thunder have opened up the process to a vote. Until Monday, fans can choose from one of eight names for this adorable little puppy, and let me tell you it’s a harder decision than I thought it’d be. Your options:

  • Slugger
  • Thor
  • Slider
  • Rookie
  • Mo
  • Scooter
  • Parker
  • Ace

From that list, I’d cut Rookie, Slugger and Slider because they’re stupid. Parker (short for “Inside-the-Parker”) is cute, but you’re going to have to explain the joke every time and it’ll get old. Mo is out too, because this dog’s going to be working for the better part of a decade, and by 2020, kids aren’t going to internally understand the worship of Mariano Rivera and they’re going to think we’re weird and judge us silently. It’s like how every man born between 1970 and 1980 acts like everyone had a crush on Tiffani Amber Thiessen growing up and it never occurs to them that this is not a universal experience embedded in the DNA of all future generations. We’ve got to stop at some point, and I draw the line at the Bat Dog. The last easy cut is Ace, for a reason that might not make sense to anyone but me. To me, what you want in a name for a dog or a cat is 1) something vaguely suitable for, though not completely human, because that’s kind of how you treat your pet. A dog isn’t an object, but it’d be weird if you called it, like, Sean or something. Ace fits this criterion, but not the second. Because of the linguistic vagaries of Pet Speak (i.e. “Daww, who’s a puppy? Aren’t you the cutest? Oh, you’re a good boy aren’t you?”), you want a name you can say in kind of a sing-song-y manner to get the beast’s attention, but something silly enough that you can use direct address while you’re rubbing his belly and reaffirming his cuteness. You can’t really sing-song a one-syllable name.

Which leaves Thor and Scooter. I think Thor, despite only being one syllable, is cool enough to merit consideration. And the Thor/Thunder tie-in is cute. The big drawback is that it’s not even a remotely baseball-related name, and for a baseball dog, I don’t know if that flies. Scooter’s not perfect either–the baseball connection isn’t as strong as you’d think, as Phil Rizzuto was only one of four major leaguers all-time to bear that nickname, according to Baseball Reference. But I think when all’s said and done, I’d pick Scooter, just because it seems like the best name for a dog. But it’s a tough call for sure.

If you have questions about what to name your dog, you can send them in here, and they might get answered.


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1 comment

  1. Jason Wojciechowski

    January 25, 2014 12:49 PM

    I was very nearly named Thor, but my mom got overruled.

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