Friday, February 18, 2011

The Name Game: J Thru L Edition

Welcome to the fourth round of the name game, where I, along with my loyal party apparatchiks, choose from amongst the funniest names and nicknames in baseball history. The result is a team of stars and scrubs who all have the name Dick in common. Seriously though, that was the G-I team. We here at Thoughts Askew have moved beyond those sophomoric efforts and put together only the best in high brow humor for you today. There will be no Dick Johnson, Dick Little, or Dick Long for we will no longer stoop to those levels. Who am I kidding, if those players existed they would probably have made the team. Sadly, they are mere figments of baseball greatness. So, without further ado, here is our squad of names falling somewhere in between Ray Jablonski and Jim Lyttle.

1B: Pete LaCock: Many of the lists we have done so far have been dependent on the juvenile humor that a man named Dick seems to be able to generate. In an effort to add a little bit of culture and variety we've decided to bring in the French, who are said to know something about the former at the very least. Since we work on a rather low budget here at Thoughts Askew of somewhere around zero dollars we had to go on the cheap and hire Pete LaCock, a former first sacker for the Cubs and Royals during the heady days of Studio 54 and underage Traci Lords films. Although Pete is from California I think we'll all agree that his name does sound vaguely French when pronounced with the proper Pepe Le Pew accent.
Also receiving votes: Pop Joy and Nippy Jones

2B: Greg Legg: Greg is rhymin' and stealin', although not in the major leagues where he managed nine hits and zero stolen bases in two short stints in the mid 1980s for the Philadelphia Phillies. Too bad no one thought to nickname him Peg. If he'd played in the 19th century his teammates wouldn't have missed an opportunity like that - they really knew how to keep a guy humble through the subtle use of an emasculating nickname in those days.
Also receiving votes: Speed Kelly, he of the one career stolen base.

SS: Chick Lathers: With all these Dicks some of us probably would like some chicks and Lathers provides us one. Naked, wet, and covered in soap, Chick struggled to eke out a mere 29 hits for the Detroit Americans during the 1910 and 1911 seasons.
I wish I could say that everyone scores with this Chick, but with the sad numbers he put up that would be a negative.
Also receiving votes: Wagon Tongue Keister - So close to a starting position for Keister, whose 1900 slang for ass was just not funny enough for the masses. Most of us who have played "Oregon Trail" are still unsure what a wagon tongue is exactly - all we know is that it kept breaking while Rambo and the Terminator were suffering from cholera, putting the whole mission in jeopardy. Sadly, Rambo passed away in Nebraska, look for his gravestone near Chimney Rock.

3B: Harry Koons: Oh the delicate job of dealing with a vaguely racist sounding name. Back in the 1880s when Harry played they would have had an easier time with my conundrum, they just had less delicate sensibilities. I guess I'll just let some honest country folk from that time period say what your mind is already thinking. If I have misjudged you I do apologize in a most profuse and disingenuous manner.
Also receiving votes: Evan Longoria - I would have thought he would have been the winner here, but the democratic process is a strange thing. I was of the belief that people would want an excuse to see these pictures. I guess not.

Outfield: Rusty Kuntz: A backup outfielder for the 1984 champion Detroit Tigers, Rusty tries very hard to get people to pronounce his name as Koonce. As literate adults we know better and ignore his wishes. A friend of mine suggested his name would be a good thing to hang on a sign in front of the cooters of women eighty years and older. Fair warning before entry I suppose. Let me suggest a generous application of WD-40.

Outfield: Wee Willie Keeler: A Hall of Fame outfielder during the 19th century, Wee Willie probably would have traded all his fame and glory for Randy Johnson's nickname (consider yourself foreshadowed).

Outfield: Bris "the Human Eyeball" Lord: An all around great name for this eight year major league veteran (1905-07, 1909-1913). If I ever have to be circumcised again in another life Bris Lord is the man I want for the job. The Human Eyeball moniker also suggests good vision, which is the second quality I look for in a moil. A steady hand with a knife is the first requirement, although I'm sure that goes without saying.
Also receiving votes: Chick King (threesomes involving King and Lathers now available on DVD), Davy Jones (poor guy, no one ever seemed to want to visit his locker).

Catcher: Clyde Kluttz: Kluttz was a mediocre backup catcher who managed nine major league seasons in the National League following World War II. I wish I had a great story about how Clyde tripped for no reason and fell down the dugout steps, smashing his head open in a buffoonish manner and somehow costing his team a run. Unfortunately, no, that was Josh Bard. If only the Kluttz had hit a foul ball that smashed into a grandmotherly type in the stands and he had then hit her with another foul as she was being carried out on a stretcher. Now that would be a great story, but alas that was Richie Ashburn. A tragedy really, Clyde Kluttz had a mildly funny name, but lacked the wherewithal to take advantage of it.
Also receiving votes: Kick Kelly and Elmer Klumpp - worry not, I shan't barrage you with two hours of toilet humor in honor of the mostly unfunny "Nutty Professor 2."

Pitcher: Slim Love: The 6"7 Love earned his moniker for his tall, lanky build rather than the twenty years he spent in the porn industry following a short career as a Yankee moundsman during the World War I years. In the interest of full disclosure I feel I should add that my porn name is Smoky Canewood.

Pitcher: Dick Lines: Regardless of whether the name brings to mind a thick, veiny tree trunk, a solid reliever for the Washington Senators in the 1960s, or your favorite gang bang scene, Dick Lines is/are fun for the whole family. Well, maybe not grandma, she was never really into sports.

Pitcher: Mark Lemongello: A hurler for the Houston Astros in the late 1970s, Mark has been surrounded for years by rumors of a brother named Orangello which remain unsubstantiated at the time of this writing.

Pitcher: Randy Johnson: Randy is a 300 game winner who was lucky enough to boast perhaps the greatest nickname is sports history: "The Big Unit." In related news, restaurateur and musician Alice Cooper sells a foot long hot dog of the same name in his Phoenix eatery. Which begs the question, does shoving a foot of meat named after a man down your throat make you gay, or just hungry? Oh well, not my problem.

Pitcher: Dick Koecher: A bit of a submissive, Dick finished 0-4 during his short professional career as a hurler for the Phillies from 1946-48.
Also receiving votes: Michael Jackson (Why should I change my name, he's the one who's the pedophile), King Lear (guess no one reads Shakespeare outside of "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet"), and Joe Jaeger (too many bad experiences with this vile liquor hurt his chances I dare say).

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Long National Nightmare

After nearly sixty days of previously unmatched ineptitude, the unthinkable has finally happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers have won a basketball game. Way back in the dark days of 2010, on December 18, long before the Egyptian protests to overthrow Mubarak had begun, the Cavs managed to overthrow the New York Knicks in an overtime thriller, snapping their ten game losing streak.
Little did the Cleveland players know that the ten game skid was just a precursor of greater (lesser?) things to come. Through the months of December, January, and on into February the team lost like no other team in NBA history has managed to do. They never even managed to take one of those games into overtime. That was true until today Friday, February 11 when the franchise decided to put their foot down and give their fan(s?) an early Valentine's Day present by squeaking by the Los Angeles Clippers in the extra period.
As a budding historian of colossal athletic failure, I thought this momentous event would give me an opportunity to discuss some of the greatest embarrassments ever to take place on a sporting field. Sometimes when the wheels start to come off for a sports team, its hard to get them back on again. If the Cavalier players and fan(s?) are looking for a silver lining here are five teams that might make them feel a little better about themselves.

1. Cleveland Spiders (20-134), 1899: Okay Cleveland, I thought we'd get this over with quickly. The Cavaliers aren't your city's first brush with losing greatness. The Cleveland Spiders were a major league baseball team in the late 19th century that enjoyed a great deal of success in their early days, boasting three future Hall-of-Famers, including some guy named Cy Young.
Things took a turn for the worst for the Spiders in 1899 when the owners decided to purchase a second team in St. Louis. Nowadays the same owner would not be allowed to control two different franchises. Allow me to demonstrate why this could be a bad idea.
Believing they could make more money with the St. Louis club, the ownership decided to send all of the good players on Cleveland to St. Louis, including those three Hall-of-Famers. The fans quickly caught on to the stench they had been left with in place of their former team and decided their money would be better invested in anything but watching the fecal matter nine showing off their talents, or lack thereof.
Attendance was so poor that the National League forced the Spiders to play almost three quarters of their games away from the friendly confines of their nearly empty stadium, where they finished the season a stellar 9-33. Of course, that was a lot better than their 11-101* road record (*not a typo). Here are some fun facts relating to the diamond disaster we know today as the 1899 Cleveland Spiders:
- The two winningest pitchers each won 4 games. They combined to lose 53.
- The Spiders finished 84 games out of first place and 35 games behind the 11th place team in the 12 team league. That means they were assured last place with about a month left to go in the season.
Fortunately for everyone involved the team was disbanded after the season. There you go Cleveland fan(s) - your team isn't even the worst in the city's history.

2. Cumberland University football (0-1), 1916: You might look at the record and think, hey a one loss team doesn't seem so bad, especially to Cavaliers players who have experienced a column that looks like this: LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. When you hear that the loss was in a football game and it came by the score of 222-0 you might change your mind. But I'm not telling you what to think.
This story features another person who has an award named after him, some guy named John Heisman, who was coaching the Georgia Tech football team at the time. Coach Heisman was a little upset after his school's baseball team was drilled by Cumberland in 1915 by the lop-sided score of 22-0. Rumor had it the Cumberland side had used ringers in the blowout.
The displeased coach decided to wreak his vengeance on the Cumberland football team with whom they had a contract to play in the fall of 1916. It mattered little to Heisman that Cumberland had disbanded their team, a deal was a deal and if the team failed to show up in Atlanta they would owe Georgia Tech $3,000, a good deal of cash for that era.
Cumberland chose to show up with a team of students to face one of the better college football programs in the country at that time. The result was an ass-kicking that will likely never be equaled. 222-0. The Ramblin Wreck scored every time they had the ball, rushing for 1620* yards (not a typo) in the game. Even Rudy had like six touchdowns.
The Cumberland offense was even more exciting, at least for the Georgia Tech fans. They managed to only go backwards 96 yards on 27 carries for an average of just under -4 per attempt, fumbling the ball over to Tech on nine of those rushes. Their passing was a little better, resulting in 2 completions in 18 attempts for an overwhelming 14 yards. Unfortunately 6 of those passes ended up in the hands of a defender.
Mr. Heisman I believe its safe to say vengeance is yours.

3. Detroit Lions (0-16), 2008: Since the Lions undewinned season is so fresh in our minds, I won't dwell on it too long. These pussy cats lost three more in a row the next year before getting a victory. One could argue the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should have this spot - they actually lost 26 straight from 1976-77 including an 0-14 inaugural campaign. They were an expansion team so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. Much as the Bucs 0-14 was eclipsed by the 0-16 Lions, Detroit's infamous record may one day be broken. The league is currently considering a move to an eighteen game schedule. Can 0-18 be far away?

4. Prarie View A&M (0-90), 1989-1998: No team on this list yet has managed the kind of consistent year after year after year losing Prarie View A&M football pulled off during the decade of the 1990s. Their ninety game losing streak during those seasons is a record as unlikely to be equaled as Cy Young's 511 wins or Brett Favres 7 million game# playing streak (#number subject to slight inflation thanks to a combination of ESPN slobbering hero worship and Favre ego).
The skid doubles the second longest one in I-AA history, Columbia's 44 game stretch of ineptitude. They at least had an excuse - they were at freaking Columbia, an Ivy League school. I'm sure Prarie View is a fine academic institution where students have better things to do than compete in a football game once in a decade, but good lord man scheduling the School for the Deaf and Blind at least once every five years to avoid ten year losing streaks might be a good idea.
In 1991, the team's worst year that might not have been a weak enough team for them to beat - the offense scored 48 points all season, while the defense was surrendering an average of 56 every game! Vaunted football power Alabama State thumped them 92-0.

5. Bulgarian Women's Hockey Team 2010 Olympic Qualifying: Don't worry hockey lovers, I have you covered as well - in men's hockey one can slow a blowout by just getting in a bunch of fights. Unfortunately, in women's hockey fights are not allowed. A sad revelation I know for all of you out there wanting to watch a bunch of chicks punch each other in the tits.
As a result of these strange rules the Bulgarian team was forced to try to compete i hockey during their game against Slovakia, something they are not very good at if the final score of 82-0 is any indication. Kudos to the goalie, however who made 57 saves to keep the score respectable, forcing the Slovakians to wait an average of 44 seconds between goals.
During the course of their four qualifiers, Bulgaria gave up more goals than the Detroit Red Wings did the entire 2009-10 season. The team did show steady improvement compared to the Slovakia debacle, losing 39-0 to Latvia, 41-0 to Italy, and 30-1 against Croatia. I wonder what that goal celebration was like. Hopefully poor Andres Cantor didn't have to broadcast the games - he certainly would have been a bit hoarse.

So now you've seen just how bad it can get in the world of sports. Cheer up Cavalier fan(s), things can always be worse. Of course, there still is the matter of that road losing streak....