SBD/August 10, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Now Batting, Corey's Brother: MLB Players Have Fun Putting Nicknames On New Jerseys

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MLB yesterday unveiled the roster of nicknames players will wear on the back of their jerseys during the Aug. 25-27 Players Weekend, a move that is "meant to serve as an injection of personality into the game," according to Tim Healey of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The league is temporarily suspending its "typically strict dress code/equipment rules" that will result in teams wearing "colorful, specially designed jerseys" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/10). In Scranton, Donnie Collins writes there is "potential to make this a really fun tradition for baseball, and here’s guessing the nicknames on the jerseys will be even better next year, when players are more comfortable using them" (Scranton TIMES-TRIBUNE, 8/10). MLB.com's Mark Newman noted several MLBers are serving as Players Weekend Ambassadors by "taking an active role in promoting the event" (MLB.com, 8/9).

PLAYER WEEKEND AMBASSADORS
NICKNAME
Mariners 1B Yonder Alonso
Mr. 305
Cubs 2B Javier Baez
El Mago
Blue Jays DH Jose Bautista
Joey Bats
Mariners DH Nelson Cruz
Boomstick
Braves CF Ender Inciarte
Ender
Indians 2B Francisco Lindor
Mr. Smile
Orioles 3B Manny Machado
Mr. Miami
Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo
Tony
Yankees P CC Sabathia
Dub
Marlins LF Christian Yelich
Yeli
Red Sox LF Chris Young
CY

PLAYERS CAN EXPRESS THEMSELVES: Rays 3B Evan Longoria (Longo) called the weekend and the creative jerseys a "good thing." He said, "I expressed that to the Players Association in some of the meetings we had. This game is pretty archaic the way it's played and the way it's viewed. It's America's Pastime, and it's steeped in a lot of history. ... We were really behind (the weekend) in terms of guys expressing themselves on the field with what they wear" (MLB.com, 8/9). Angels LF Cameron Maybin (Slim): "The NBA does stuff like that. I think it's to make the game more exciting for the fans. We'll see how cool the jerseys are. I'm sure it'll be fun to know what nicknames some guys choose. I like it. Something new is always good" (MLB.com, 8/9). Rangers LF Delino DeShields Jr. (Poppa): "It's a great idea to kind of connect with the younger generation of kids. I think it's something that should be done more often" (MLB.com, 8/9). Twins P Kyle Gibson (Gibby): "The whole goal is just to get fans closer to the game. One of the cool things about today's game is that social media is hopefully allowing fans to get a good feel for who we are, not just on the field, but off the field" (MLB.com, 8/9).

REACHING OUT TO YOUNG FANS: MLB Network's Dan O'Dowd said MLB is "trying to reach out to the youth of our game and embrace that age demographic and let the players have a little fun along the way, too” ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 8/9). ESPN's Mark Teixeira said, “I’m a big proponent of doing things like this, with the nicknames on the back of the jerseys, letting guys wear funky shoes and batting gloves, having different colored bats. ... Young kids are watching basketball, watching football. They’re not watching baseball as much. We need to bring the young fans back to baseball.” ESPN’s Zubin Mehenti: “Whatever it takes to get those eyeballs back on America’s Pastime” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 8/9).

STAYING ON BRAND MESSAGE: MLB.com's Bryan Hoch noted Yankees RF Aaron Judge's jersey will sport the phrase "All Rise," which is used by radio announcer John Sterling when calling a Judge home run. Judge said using the phrase was Yankees 3B Todd Frazier's idea. Judge: "I was just going to put my last name because I didn't really have anything to put on there. He was kind of razzing me a little bit and said, 'Put ALL RISE,' so I did it." Frazier, whose jersey will have his nickname "The Toddfather," said, "I said, 'Come on, man. Get your brand out there! It'll be a pretty cool jersey. It just makes the game that much better" (MLB.com, 8/9). In N.Y., Alex Taylor noted the Yankees have "never worn uniforms with names on the back during their 116-year history." This also marks the first "absence of pinstripes during a Yankees home game ... since they started permanently wearing their iconic uniforms 102 years ago" (NYPOST.com, 8/9). Also in N.Y., Billy Witz notes the "alternate uniform with a script 'Yankees' across the front" will mark the first time the franchise "will wear pullover tops." It is "unlikely that the Yankees ... would have gone along with something like Players Weekend if they had not been obligated to do so" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/10). NBC's Matt Lauer noted the Yankees' "century-old tradition will be broken" by putting names on the jersey and said the team should not have taken part in the promotion. NBC's Savannah Guthrie said if the Yankees had not participated, that "makes them seem kind of snooty" ("Today," NBC, 8/10).

Padres P Brad Hand said "Brotato" is not his
nickname, but that he calls everyone "Bro"
HAVING SOME FUN
: In DC, Scott Allen wrote some of the nicknames "are excellent," including White Sox P Derek Holland (Dutch), A's C Josh Phegley (PTBNL) and Pirates P Felipe Rivero (Nightmare) (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/9). In Detroit, Carlos Monarrez notes several Tigers players "got into the spirit of the event," including P Michael Fulmer (Fulm Piece), RF Mikie Mahtook (Night Hawk) and C James McCann (McCannon) (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/10). Nationals P Sean Doolittle "wanted as many O's that will fit on the back of his jersey, so he will wear the nickname 'DOOOOOOOO'" (MLB.com, 8/9). Padres P Brad Hand is using the "certainly unique" word "Brotato." Hand said, "It's what I call everyone. It's not really my nickname. It's just putting 'Bro' in front of anything" (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 8/10). Fans "have to like a couple of the A's nicknames," including those of C Bruce Maxwell (Baby Prince) and P Liam Hendriks (Slydah) (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/9).

O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? 
In Seattle, Sean Quinton noted the "best and most creative use of the name" on the Mariners goes to 3B Kyle Seager, whose jersey will read "Corey's Brother." Corey Seager is an All-Star SS for the Dodgers (SEATTLETIMES.com, 8/9). Seager "initially asked for 'Corey Seager’s Brother' on the back but it wouldn’t fit." Corey Seager is simply going with his last name, causing his older brother to say, "He’s boring. You’ve gotta to do better than that" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/10).

WHAT WOULD PITBULL DO? In Miami, Greg Hadley notes there was "plenty of love for South Florida" from the players, though many of them "don't play" for the Marlins. Orioles 3B Manny Machado's Mr. Miami name might be the "most bold" of the choices, and the Hialeah native "has not been shy about expressing his love for Miami in the past." In addition to Mariners 1B Yonder Alonso referencing the Miami area code in his nickname, Cubs CF Jon Jay (305 J) also made "reference to his home city" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/10).

TRADEMARK ISSUES: MLB.com's Robert Falkoff noted Cardinals 2B Paul DeJong "was going to have the nickname 'Paulie D'" on his jersey but instead will go with his last name. He said, "Apparently, some disc jockey in California has that trademark" (MLB.com, 8/9). Braves C Kurt Suzuki "settled for 'Zuk' after a request for Duke Kahanamoku (a famous Hawaiian surfer) was denied" (MLB.com, 8/9). ESPN's Darren Rovell noted players were not allowed "to wear brand names on back of jerseys," though MLB did allow Cubs P Carl Edwards Jr. "to have CARL'S JR on back" (TWITTER.com, 8/9).

JUST ANOTHER MONEY GRAB? The N.Y. Daily News' Anthony McCarron the jerseys show "stodgy old baseball trying to have some fun for a change." McCarron: "I don’t know if we need three days of it, but I think it’s a good idea. I’m sure they’re going to get accused of a money grab by selling the jerseys.” SNY’s Sal Licata: “It is a money grab. ... I like the different color schemes. The nicknames on the back of the jerseys is just unprofessional” (“Daily News Live,” SNY, 8/9). SNY’s Jon Hein: “This seems really gimmicky to me” ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 8/9). The N.Y. Times’ Tyler Kepner on Twitter wrote, “One day of off-beat uniforms (holidays, charities, ‘Players Weekend’) makes the point. Good fun. Three days makes it a tacky marketing ploy.” The Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant: “Will say this: Players ‘uniforms’ change so much these days that better name might be ‘costumes.’ Nothing uniform about them” (TWITTER.com, 8/9).
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