The Cleveland Indians walked off with a thrilling victory on Tuesday night and looked to hold onto a slim lead in the late goings on Wednesday. Unfortunately, leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning came back to haunt them when Jonathan Lucroy doubled home Carlos Gonzalez to silence the raucous boos he had been hearing in both games. Charlie Blackmon took reliever Zach McAllister deep in the twelfth inning and the Tribe could not duplicate the magic from a night earlier as they lost, 3-2.
The good news is that starter Trevor Bauer continued to demonstrate that his FIP (3.80) means more to his future success than his ERA (4.79) as he had his third straight dominant outing (7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 SO ).1 Bauer has solidified his place in the rotation with this stretch of play though it is worth noting that he had a similar run of starts in 2016 from June 6 to July 1 (6 G, 5 GS, 42.2 IP, 28 H, 8 ER, 7R, 12 BB, 40 SO, 1.48 ERA). But, if Bauer can continue is stellar displays on the mound, then the Indians can continue to lean on him along with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar.
The bad news is that they need to lean hard on their rotation because the offense is not pulling their weight as the Tribe scored just one run for the third time in the last four games. 32 runs over the last nine games (3.56 runs per game) is not ideal especially when they lost a game in which they scored 10 runs in that stretch (2.75 runs per game in others). Losses of outfielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley to injury compounded the offensive issues, so the front office felt the need to go spend money to acquire Jay Bruce.
Still, the Kansas City Royals have been imploding2 and the Minnesota Twins are a non-threat in the division.3 Despite the uneven play and inability to go on a prolonged winning streak, the Indians find themselves in enviable first place position in the AL Central Division with a great chance to work their way towards being healthy and peaking in October. You know, if they ever peak.
Players Weekend Nickname Ranks
The object of following a baseball team is fun, and I have long noted that MLB needs to create more events. Commissioner Robert Manfred is finally listening as he helped push for a Player’s Weekend event this season. As part of that weekend, players will be wearing self-chosen nicknames on the back of their jerseys instead of their surnames.
Below is the Indians’ picture release with a sampling of the names picked. The Indians also released the full list- including coaches- here.
The idea behind the Player’s Weekend is fantastic even if the execution is somewhat lacking in this first go-around. There’s an old saying that you cannot pick your nickname and many of the above selections demonstrate why. The lack of creativity of some players is not their fault in totality, but they should have just asked WFNY and we would have gladly helped them out.
As it is, we need to formulate a scientific ranking of these names in order to help some of these players figure out that they need to change them for next year’s event. The nicknames, therefore, are graded in three categories from zero to 10 (10 being the best grade). Cumulative scores then create the rankings with anyone finishing below 16 points needing to upgrade their attempt desperately for 2018.
Here are the categories.
Creativity: MLB is offering players an opportunity to show their personality and connect with the fanbase. Do something with it. Using your initials or a shortened version of your last name is NOT going to win you points here.
Usage: Many players have nicknames that they are already called and fans identify them with. There is some definitive strength towards finally being able to see that cherished identifier on an official jersey.
Branding: Like it or not, branding is a huge portion of professional sports in 2017. MLB has an issue marketing players, so it is up to the players to market themselves. If their nickname alludes to some easy branding (either for themselves or through an existing company), then they get points for helping the overall game.
Best Name: There needs to be bonus points if the player selected what was likely the best name that they could have utilized for this event. If their high usage name is boring, so they decided to go creative and it worked well- high points will be seen here.
With that said, here is your 2017 Cleveland Indians nickname ranking with full scoring:
Dr. Smooth is Mr. Perfection: Michael Brantley received a perfect score due to a long-tenured nickname that is as fantastic as it brings to mind his swing, while also being creative and highly-used. If MLB players were as marketed as NBA players, then you would also see a long line of Dr. Smooth commercials akin to Uncle Drew.
Tip the cap: Santana, Carrasco, Miller, Bauer, Jackson, Francona, and Chisenhall have good-to-great nicknames. They could have gotten cute and gone another direction (as some did), but they were smart to lean into the names we all love. Seeing Cookie and Slamtana on official MLB merchandise is fantastic for those of us who have cheered for them using those identifiers for years.
Why did you turn your back?: The flip side is Kipnis (Kip over Dirtbag), Gomes (Gomer over Yanimal), Kluber (Klubes over Klubot), Tomlin (Scrubs over Little Cowboy), Perez (Bebo over Robo), Zimmer (Machines over Zim Shady), and most importantly Lindor (Mr. Smile over Frankie). Sometimes the easy decision is the smart decision. For Lindor, Frankie shirts and jerseys would have been gobbled up by the thousands. They would be beloved by his growing group of adorers. A huge missed opportunity by one of the few faces of the game MLB has going for them right now.
Missed opportunity for greatness: There was a bunch of potential for greatness lost. Boone Logan is a man, he is a big man. He and Crockett could have also done a Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett combo-pack. Instead, Booner? Cmon! Encarnacion could have done better to play with his moniker. Parrot Man or E-Squared would had added some flavor to what is now a dull nameplate. Guyer’s initials are even worse because no one uses B-G and he had some great possible options. If he would have asked me, then he’d have ‘Hit Me’ on his back. The biggest miss though was Goody even though I gave him credit for having announcers to get announce “here comes the Goods.” If ‘Two Shoes’ wasn’t so perfect, then his choice would have scored higher.
Reserving judgement: Cody Allen being called chicken with Bryan Shaw being called a geek has the makings of a good backstory. Yes, Allen and Smith have the chicken episode from 2013 already. The question is why did Shaw choose a name that indicates he bites the heads off chickens? The world wants to know.
Creative cats: Smith is how self-nicknames should be done. Sidewinder instantly brings to mind his pitching motion and has the positive attribute of combining it with a tornado of fury. Clevinger referencing Remember the Titans to play on his long hair and ability to throw a ball is just wonderful.
Press release on Player’s Weekend from MLB:
Major Leaguers will let their personalities and passions shine during Players Weekend, a newly-created event taking place during all MLB games scheduled between August 25–27.
Players Weekend is a player-focused event that will include the players wearing colorful, non-traditional uniforms featuring alternate designs inspired by youth league uniforms. Players will have the opportunity to have a nickname placed on the back of the jerseys made by Majestic Athletic, as well as to wear and use uniquely-colored and designed spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, catcher’s masks, and bats.
During Players Weekend, the players will also be wearing specially-designed caps by New Era, and unique socks from Stance. In addition, players will have the option of wearing t-shirts highlighting a charity or cause of their choice during pre-game workouts and post-game interviews.