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Jacobsen: Comic relief in sports best names (Feb. 18)

Vicky Jacobsen | Monday, February 18, 2013

It’s been about a week since pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, and for many baseball fans that means it’s time to start researching for their fantasy team draft. But not me – if I wanted to devote the time and effort that it takes to play GM, I’d want to be paid as a professional scout. More importantly, I’d be no good. Forget about talent or value, my drafting strategy would be based purely on how much I enjoy a player’s name. That might not be the best plan if you want to win your fantasy league, but if you’re a sports writer trying to maintain sanity finding joy in unusual names is sometimes a crucial survival skill. Here are a few of my favorites:

Best names to come out of the SEC
On their own, Barkevious and Mingo are both stellar names. Together, the defensive end from LSU can pretty much ensure that no name will jump to mind before his at the NFL draft this spring, And even as he embarrassed Notre Dame in the BCS national championship game, there was no way to keep from smiling when sophomore defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was involved in a play.

Honorable mention: Former Lady Vol’s basketball player Nicky Anosike and LSU great Shaquille O’Neal are reminders that it’s great to have a name that rhymes – at least when you’ve got game.

Best names from the state of Hawaii
There’s an awful lot of competition here, but Naval Academy football coach Ken Niumatalolo has to take the cake. Try and say his name without smiling. Seriously, try it.

Honorable mention: Tennessee Titans safety and Oregon State product Al Afalava shares Niumatalolo’s hometown of Laie, and he has two things going for his name. Firstly, his first and last names begin with the same letter, which is always a plus. More importantly, his last name has the word “lava” in it, which is especially fitting as Hawaii still has active volcanoes.

Best names in the world of soccer
There was a time during the last World Cup when my best friend convinced me I should marry German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger for the sole purpose of adopting his last name, and I was highly disappointed a few months later when I learned that he is not at all single. My dream may be dead, but the name is still awesome.

Honorable mention: Based on his first name alone I thought Herculez Gomez had pretty cool parents. Then I discovered that the American forward has a brother named Ulysses, a professional mixed-martial artist. Is anyone else really curious about the people who named these guys?

Best nickname generators

Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers earned the nickname “Quizz Show” during his college years at Oregon State. Oddly enough, he has an older brother who’s simply named James.

Honorable mention: Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is also known as “The Law Firm” because, well, his name sounds like that of a law firm.

Best name, “How do you spell that?” division
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, best known as a Bengals wide receiver, has a Persian last name that translates as “son of wisdom or intelligence.” But he tops this list because you can sing his name to the tune of “Barracuda.”

Honorable mention: I suppose there are some people, probably all of them living in North Carolina, who can spell Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s name correctly on the first try. But I think I’ll just stick to calling him Coach K.

Best names of retired Red Sox players
Former Red Sox third baseman Arquimedez Pozo hasn’t played since 1997, but the Fenway Faithful have yet to find another player whose name is even comparable to his.

Honorable mention: Let’s face it, if he hadn’t become known as one of the best catchers of all time, Yogi Berra would’ve been remembered as that Yankee player with the funky name.

Best names discovered in the minors
I’m still sorry that the Marlins released minor league outfielder Sequoyah Trueblood Stonecipher a few years ago, but I will never understand how he lost to eventual winner Rowdy Hardy in the Minors Monkier Madness championship back in 2010.

Honorable mention: Seth Schwindenhammer, a left-handed pitcher who came in second in moniker madness, would become the longest-named major leaguer in history if he is ever called up to the big leagues. His name literally means “swing the hammer.” It just doesn’t get better than that.

 

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu
    

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily of The Observer.