Friday, September 06, 2013

What's In a Name? A Footballer's Name?

Cleveland has a large Slavik community, so there are a lot of people out here with names that some of us find hard to pronounce and even harder to spell (and this from a lifelong fan of a guy named Yastrzemski!). And there are Ohioans with names that are easy to say, easy to spell, but still cause a giggle. Have you seen the commercials that say "With a name like Smucker's, it HAS to be good!"? Yup, The Smuckers are Ohioans. From Orrville. Not to be confused with that other Orville. Redenbacher, that is. I don't know if he's from Ohio but he makes pretty decent popcorn. And HE is not to be confused with Dayton's Orville, Wilbur's brother. Not Mr. Ed's Wilbur. The flying Wilbur. As in Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Wright Bros. But those names really aren't "in favor" anymore. And neither is Norval, which kinda rhymes with Orville but isn't spelled anything like it. But that's the name of one of the Browns' assistant coaches. He's been around the NFL a time or two, and most of us know him as Norv. Norv Turner, football coach. He's an assistant to a guy whose name may or may not be Slavik but is, at least, likely Eastern European. So Head Coach Rod Chudzinski should fit right in around these parts. Though I'm not sure how well that name fit when he was a kid. Kids can be cruel about things like that, things you can't control. Like your name. Chudzinski. Is it worse than Dick Butkus? Well, I suppose given his size not too many kids made fun of Dick Butkus. At least not within his hearing range. But the 2013 Cleveland Browns have added a challenge. They have a rookie player who hails from Louisiana. And even THAT cannot explain his name. This kid has a pretty good reputation as a tough ballplayer. He's won a lot of awards. AND he was drafted in the first round. But it's likely a lot of people will hear more about him because of his name than his play. It's not a modern name that harkens back to guys named Knute. It's not a name which can conveniently be changed to rhyme with a trophy, like Theisman. It's not even a football-great-sounding name like the Patriots players Gronkowski, Gostkowski, or Ninkovich. Even Hoomanawanui doesn't faze people, given the number of guys of American Samoan heritage who have played in the NFL recently. Polamalu, anyone? But back to the Browns. Ironically, the Cleveland faithful are sometimes called The Dawgs, as in The Dawg Pound, the fan seating area in the endzone. And why is that ironic? Because the new kid's name is...wait for it....

 No. No typo here, folks. Not even as I type this on the typo-infamous iPad. Barkevious. I kid you not. It's right there on the Interwebs. It's on the Browns' game program, right next to the number 51. It's on the marketing materials, his contract.  Above the 51 on his jersey is the name Mingo. That's his last name. Fortunately for the play-play guys and the color commentators. Because, I know it's childish, and I don't mean to be cruel, but he ain't nuthin' but a hound dawg. A Cleveland Pound Dawg. Barkevious. AKA Ke-Ke. Or whatever he wants to be called. Because he's a big, strong ball player, out to make a name for himself. Though who could forgive him if he changed it to something a little less, shall we say, unusual? He could always change it to Cinco Uno.

The Fine Art of Digression (or How One Can Turn Any Conversation Into an Anti-Yankees Dig)

Almost had to use the comforter last night but put on flannel jammies instead. I guess fall is upon us. That in-between time when you don't know what to wear. Which is why God and our friendly purveyor Leon Leonwood invented layers. You are a true Yankee if you know who Leon Leonwood was. An even truer Yankee if you hate THE Yankees! Who probably won't even be in the playoffs this year. Too bad. So sad. Screw 'em. But we should savor these last coupla weekends of the regular season because it's the last time we'll have to hit against Mariano and possibly Pettite. And who knows if Jeter will be celebrating his 40th next summer in pinstripes? And (please god make it happen) the last time Alex Rodriguez will find himself anywhere near a ballfield again, unless he buys a ticket. But there I go, digressing again. Anyway, I hope everybody else is experiencing the same beautiful but too chilly for shorts but actually good for sleeping at least in your jammies weather that we are here in Cleveland. Where I don't even have to look at the standings to know the Indians won't make the playoffs. Which is sad because I was hoping, with Terry Francona managing... Oh, well. At least the Browns haven't lost yet. But give 'em a chance. There's always the first game this weekend.

BTW, Leon Leonwood was that, I'm assuming friendly-as-a-guy-from-northern-Maine-in-the-late-1800s-could-be-without-things-getting-weird(er?), ol' coot LLBean. But you knew that, didn't you?