This Friday is our annual fantasy baseball draft. One of the most important things about a fantasy baseball team is choosing a team name, something I take very seriously. My usual custom is this: 1) get the email that the league is set up, register, 2) think about a name for approximately eight hours while staring at my team page, 3) eventually settle on something I don’t really love, 4) change it the next day to something worse, and then 5) finally change it to what I’m comfortable with.
This year was no different. My original team name was Mrs. Mattingly, a nod to the now ex-wife of my all-time favorite player and her recent legal troubles. (I even changed my avatar to her mug shot.) Then I couldn’t sleep at night, tossing and turning, haunted by the idea that I was disrespecting Don Mattingly himself. Coincidentally, the next day I read this article, and changed my team name to Provocative Doodles, because I thought that was funny. But that ended up being funny for like, three seconds, and I eventually settled on Kind Old Uncle Remus after watching the episode of “The Office” where Stanley threatens to leave Scranton, and Michael insists that he can’t, describing him as such. (That episode also includes my all-time favorite Office quote: Wanted: Black man with sass…big butt, bigger heart.)
So I put a lot of thought into my team name, by thinking of funny quotes that people other than myself have created, and by making moderately obscure pop culture references that make me feel smarter than everybody else: Oh, you didn't see that episode? Pffttt. My fantasy counterparts sometimes have different ideas when it comes to their team names. In fact, let’s take a deeper look at my league as it stands right now, shall we?
Mark, my cousin: Papelbon Appetit. Mark succeeded from the family years ago by astonishingly announcing his love for the Red Sox, which is a separate issue altogether that I will not get into at this time. As far as the team name is concerned, Mark believes in the philosophy of incorporating a player on his team into his team name. Oftentimes -- and by oftentimes I mean every time -- this is done before he even has a team, as we have yet to draft. So Mark is either banking on drafting Papelbon, or doesn’t really care either way. (This has also led to cases in which the owner who actually has the player whose Mark's team is named after takes exception, and many insults are traded back and forth, which is a positive.) Nevertheless, for someone who consistently delivers clever message board posts, his team name is excruciatingly awful. The idea of incorporating a player’s name into your team’s name usually ends up in a brutal pun like this. Not recommended.
Joe, my brother-in-law: Quintessential DU. The DU stands for Ducks Unlimited, and yes, there is a story behind it. Several years ago, while at my in-laws’ house, Joe walked down the stairs inexplicably wearing a shirt with two ducks flying over a pond. Keep in mind that he was NOT wearing this shirt in any kind of ironic sense -- he saw a t-shirt in his drawer, and put it on. This particular shirt happened to have ducks on it. That is how he rolls. Anyhoo, after the laughter subsided, we noticed the brand of the shirt was Ducks Unlimited, obviously, and this year’s baseball team is the fifth installment of the DU franchise. I always like seeing Joe’s team name, because it reminds me of seeing him walk down the stairs wearing a t-shirt with two ducks flying over a pond.
(In an absolutely unbelievable turn of events from two years ago, we made an impromptu family trip to the Empire State Building after eating in the city one night. In the lobby there’s a board that lists all of the companies that work in the building. One of those companies? Ducks Unlimited. The only experience in my life that has come close to seeing that name on the board was watching David Tyree’s catch, and my reaction to both events was similar.)
John, my cousin. For the umpteenth consecutive year, I cannot mention John’s team name in a public forum, which is sad, because this year’s version is quite spectacular. John’s philosophy is to find the most offensive name he can think of, and just throw it out there. I have to admit that I always appreciate the fact that computers have no sense of humor, and will list a matchup of Skid Marks versus Hairy Tits in the same way they would list Team A versus Team B. This is where John’s team comes in especially handy.
Steve, my cousin-in-law: The Smoking Glove. Here is another case of a pun gone wrong. I mean, I understand this name is in reference to the term “the smoking gun,” but what does the smoking glove refer to? This doesn’t make any sense. It has no alternate meaning. (It could refer to steroids, but that is quite a stretch.) It doesn’t even rhyme with the original term. I don’t know where this came from.
UPDATE: I have been informed that The Smoking Glove has nothing to do with "the smoking gun," but is a reference to the art of wearing a glove while smoking so the smell does not stay on your hand, thus preventing you from getting caught. This is a completely hypothetical scenario, and something that Steve, who quit smoking, would never, ever do. Ever.
Cara, my cousin: Princess Peanut. This is actually a name I was strongly considering myself, until I remembered that I have a penis. And actually, I think Cara chose this name to add an additional dose of embarrassment to each of her weekly wins. I lost this week. To Princess Peanut. Kill me. Kudos, Cara. Kudos.
McClain: TROUBLE WITH WAVIERS. McClain’s original team name was HERE COMES TROUBLE (always in CAPS) -- a somewhat accurate foreshadowing -- and he has remained with the “trouble” theme. In this case, the name refers to his own acknowledgement of his penchant for abusing the waiver wire by picking up 80 different pitchers a week (we have yet to charge for these transactions). And yes, waivers is purposely spelled incorrectly. Because he has trouble with it. Get it?
Tony: Kitchens w/ Steve. I’m going to assume that this name arose because Tony and Steve worked on kitchens together. Quite brilliant. Nothing better than an inside joke between you and one other member of the league, which is not really a joke at all, but more like an acknowledgment of an event that happened. Hilarious!!! Of course, I could be completely wrong here, and Tony learned many valuable life lessons while working on kitchens with Steve, and honored his friend with a "Tuesdays with Maurie"-type alias. Though I find it hard to imagine what life-altering advice can be given from someone who once accidentally pooped in the shower.
Walt, Steve’s cousin: ObamaYoMama. Please don’t ask me what this means. Is this is a political statement? Knowing Walt, I say no. My gut feeling is that Walt suddenly realized that Obama rhymes with Mama, and an awful team name was subsequently born. If I am wrong, and this is a political statement, it remains uncertain which side Walt is on. Is it like, “You don’t like Obama??! Yo mama!” or “ Obama? Pffttt. Yo mama!” Both arguments are equally well-constructed, and thus, the debate continues.
That is an excellent point with regards to health care reform. But I would counter that by saying, 'Yo mama.'
Jack, the commissioner: ROADKILL REAPERS. The worst. I have no idea what this is, but it is in CAPS, and it implies death, so it must be important. Every league has the meathead owner whose name signifies how they’re going to dominate the league -- MY BASEBALL BI-ATCHES!!!! or SERIAL KILLA DECAPITATORRRZZZZZ!!! -- and Jack does catch a break for managing to exclude exclamation points. Amazingly though, Jack is not a traditional meathead, and is in fact an overly nice person who takes a lot of heat for not being an asshole like the rest of us, which, of course, makes his team name all the more strange. Either way, I can speak for the rest of the league when I say that none of us are overly concerned about being ROADKILL for the guy who came in eighth place last year.