There is only one Cuban Missile…and it ain’t Aroldis (so let’s give him a new nickname!)

Aroldis Chapman is currently taking Major League Baseball by storm. We haven’t been treated to two debut innings this spectacular since…Stephen Strasburg’s first two innings against Pittsburgh earlier this year.

And though this may seem sacrilegious to say considering the Strasburg mania that has swept America, our initial glimpses of Chapman have somehow been more impressive than the man for whom Strasmas was eponymously named.

Still, no matter how dominant Aroldis Chapman may be, he is definitively not the Cuban Missile, as so many are claiming. That title belongs to White Sox SS Alexei Ramirez, and I hereby issue this blog post as a cease & desist to all of you disrepsectful, unoriginal, non-contributing zeroes (thanks Louis) who think it’s okay to take one man’s nickname and slap it onto another.

You disgust me.

Full disclosure: I feel like I need to admit that I have, at certain points in the past, referred to LaDainian Tomlinson as “LT”, a clear violation of my one-nickname-per-man rule, as well as referring to both Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson as “MJ”. However, I will say that I think the unwritten rules of nicknames become a little more lenient when we are discussing different eras and/or different sports or mediums.

Now, before I go any further, allow me to channel the brilliant thoughts of a great man, which sum up my feelings on this Chapman-Missile nonsense:

Yes, this absolutely grinds my gears.

During Spring Training of his 2008 rookie season, Alexei Ramirez – a native of Cuba – was dubbed “The Cuban Missile” by Ozzie Guillen. His lithe frame, high top-end speed, and lightning quick bat made the nickname perfectly appropriate.

alexei-ramirez-cuban-missileAfter struggling early on, the Missile went on to hit four grand slams – many of them tremendously clutch – en route to a a terrific final line of .290-21-77-65-13 in only 136 games. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Evan Longoria. Alexei then went .277-15-68-71-14 during his sophomore campaign, numbers that were admittedly a bit of a disappointment after how his rookie year ended.

He has rebounded in 2010, however, to settle in as a consistent offensive force on a team that desperately has needed one (he is at .286-16-57-71-8 with a month left to go). He has also become one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, a fact that few people seem to realize since Alexei plays in the relative obscurity of Chicago’s South Side and the AL Central.

Add it all up and the 28-year old Ramirez (he’ll be 29 on September 22nd) has become one of the most all-around productive shortstops in Major League Baseball.

So why in the hell is Alexei, an established veteran, having his nickname poached because clowns are enamored with a flame-thrower who has logged all of two major league innings?

He shouldn’t be. And I’m here to demand that it stops.

I understand why many people think that “Missile” fits for Chapman, and obviously the “Cuban Missile” tie-in is so obvious it needs no explanation. The guy is throwing 102, 103, 104 mph fastballs and being compared to legends like J.R. Richard and…Stephen Strasburg. Obviously we are witnessing an extraordinarily rare talent who we all hope has staying power on the big league level.

This young pitching prodigy deserves to have his own nickname, befitting his transcendent talent, just as much as Alexei Ramirez has earned the right to keep his nickname all to himself. So stop calling Aroldis Chapman the “Cuban Missile”. Not only are you disrespecting the original Cuban Missile, but you are selling Chapman’s mound brilliance short.

aroldis-chapman-cuban-missileNow, if I were just a whiny blogger, I might end here, pointing out a problem and bitching about it yet offering no practical solution. I realize that as sports fans we like to have nicknames to call great players. Thus, I have come up with a few that keep in mind the following realities about any potential nickname for Aroldis Chapman:

  1. It has to reference his native Cuba.
  2. It has to reference the mind-blowing velocity of his fastball.

So here are some options that keep both of those two realities in mind:

Fidel Fastro – A reference to Cuba’s controversial dictator. Could also be “Fidel Fastthrow”, which keeps the sound of the syllables of the same, but is a bit cumbersome.

The Communist Manifasto – A reference to Karl Marx’s…legendary?…work that is clearly a favorite on the bookshelves of the Cuban government. This could also be “The Communist Man of Fast Throw” or, more simply, “The Communist Manifastthrow”. I think I like “The Communist Man of Fast Throw” myself (though I doubt it will receive critical acclaim in the comment section).

Cha - We could just take the first letters of Chapman’s last name as an homage to another legendary (though grossly misunderstood) figure in Cuba’s history – Che. The idea here is that Chapman’s fastball is so fast, you can’t even say his full last name before the ball hits the catcher’s mit. This one’s a bit of a stretch, and requires to much explanation to make sense…I know.

The Cuban Missile Thriceis – a reference to Chapman’s ability to hit triple digits on the radar gun. (Not a big fan of this one…)

I like The Communist Man of Fast Throw myself, although it’s a bit bulky to ever really catch on. I now turn it over to you, my brilliant and creative readers, to come up with a new nickname for Aroldis Chapman.

If we get enough responses I’ll open a poll so everyone can vote on a winner (who will get a T-shirt like this sent to them, courtesy of the fine folks at Alternative Hero.)

Update: This post is now up on Reddit. Something tells me the clever folks at r/sports will be able to come up some good potential nicknames. I like “Havana Heat” so far.

Update: I just thought of another one: “The Cuban Trifector”. It’s a play on him being a Cuban defector and the fact that he is famous for hitting triple digits on the radar guns. Just throwing these out there as they come to me…



About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.

Comments

  1. Why not just "The Cuban Missile Launcher"? One more word so it's not swiping Alexei's moniker, but which makes it much more applicable to Chapman.

    • Simply put, no. It's not a bad idea, but the infringement upon Alexei is only one point. I also think Aroldis deserves a more creative nickname, and something quicker and more succinctly befitting his ridiculous raw ability.

  2. When I think "missile" in sports nicknames, I think arms, i.e. pitching, not shortstops; therefore I say Aroldis gets the name. And frankly, unless you're a die-hard ChiSox fan (like Jerod), you would not know Alexei had that moniker. Plus, in his 3rd season, Ramirez is hardly an "established veteran."

    Fidel Fast Throw? The Communist Manifasto?? LOL but not. Also, Chapman is not from Havana, so that does not work. Plus, "Havana Heat" sounds like Miami's AAA team.

    How about something with the word "embargo" or "bay of pigs" in it? I'm not as clever as you, Jerod.

    BTW, I saw Chapman's second start of the season in Indy (for L'ville) and while he was solid, he only hit 98 once, never 100, and usually 94-97. Then again, he was a starter "way back" then…

    • Well, when I think of the word missile as it relates to baseball, I think of a missile coming off of someone's bat before I think of an arm. The term "rocket" is typically more aligned with pitchers, while "screaming missiles" typically come off the bats of hitters.

      And thanks to reminding us all that the White Sox inhabit their own little private area of Chicago that no one outside of the South Side faithful pays attention to. Sadly, you're right, but it's never nice to hear an outsider say it.

      And yes, Alexei IS an established veteran, especially as it relates to Chapman…who has pitched 2 measly innings. Alexei has been the starting shortshop on a playoff team and is not in the third season in the same position with the same team. If that doesn't establish you in this transient era of Major League Baseball, I don't know what does. Throw in the fact that he's a Gold Glove candidate at the second most important defensive position on the field and, again, he most certainly is established.

      Good point on "Havana Heat". Just liked the aliteration.

      • AJ Kaufman says:

        Yes, yes, factually you're mostly correct.

        BTW, White Sox truly do "their own little private area of Chicago that no one outside of the South Side faithful pays attention to." I never realized that until I moved to Indy, which is nearly equidistant from Chi, STL and Cincy. While I've met tons of Cub, Cardinal and Red fans, very, very few White Sox fans. In fact, sports radio usually gives Cub/Cardinal/Red scores but not ChiSox.

        I am no fan of either Chicago team, but the Sox have much better, more passionate and more knowledgeable fans than the wine, cheese and frat boy Cub fans who don't watch the games but attend "to hang out." I noticed that each visit to The Cell or Wrigleyville.

  3. but those missiles were never launched, Tony. Aroldis has launched :)

  4. Communist Man of Fast Throw!

  5. Guantanamo "K"

  6. All lame nicknames… but a nice effort, so we'll give you that.

  7. Boilermaker1 says:

    Havana Hurricane
    Cuban Cannon

  8. i have a coupleto 'throw' out there:
    "mojito"
    "cuba libre"
    "Jerry Lee" as in jerry lee lewis the signer of 'Great Balls of Fire'
    "3D" as in triple digits
    "Roldy" no specific link except to his name [and the Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo reference]

  9. try not to says:

    Blinky

  10. OK, this is a stetch, but here goes. Cincinnati was once known as "porkopolis" when it was the hog processing capital of the U.S. Each spring, Cinci hosts a marathon called the Flying Pig. There has to be a tie-in with the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos in Spanish), but the best that I can come up with is the baconater. At least it would give him some good marketing opportunities with fast food chains.

  11. When Alexei can throw 105mph he can have his nickname back, but until then it belongs to Chapman.

    • And what exactly has Chapman done to deserve a nickname from an established MLB starting SS? Sure, Chapman can throw 105 mph, and he has been very impressive in doing so, but he's only thrown a small handful of innings. That doesn't give him dibs on anything.

      Plus, again, I think Chapman's talent deserves it's OWN nickname. I know we're more creative than what we're showing here. Come on people!

  12. WoodenShoe1 says:

    How about something simple: "Cuban Smoke" or just "Smoke". A tribute to the Cuban Cigar and the heater that this Cuban throws.

  13. thejustonian says:

    Aroldis Velocitus Incalculus. Otherwise known as AVI.

  14. The Barbecuba ("Put another one on the barbecuba, this batter's done!")

  15. Aw just call him A-Chap and get it over with…

  16. The Merchant says:

    Lawrence Taylor, crowned as the as the greatest defensive player in NFL history by many media members, former players, and coaches, "lost" his LT nickname just a few years after his retirement when everybody still knew who LT was. Although Tomlinson is/was one of the elite running backs in the NFL and a future hall of famer (and my personal fave) , he has not had a profound of an impact on the game like Taylor, who revolutionized his position and defensive strategy that everyone uses today. I think LaDainian Tomlinson's cumbersome 7-syllable name has just as much to do with "stealing" the LT nickname as anything else. Given that he makes it on every highlight clip each time he plays, it becomes a mouthful after a while.

  17. The Merchant says:

    (cont.)
    In the same vein, Aroldis is an uncommon name in the US and it's easier for fans to remember a nickname. I realize Chapman is much more common, but nevertheless, people won't remember how to say or spell Aroldis. And like LT, he's a guaranteed highlight reel everytime he takes the field. The nickname is going to stick if for nothing else, his uncommon first name (in US). Nobody other than ChiSox fans has ever heard of Alexei Ramierez being called the Cuban Missile. If you really want to bequeath the Cuban Missile nickname to the player with the most "launches" (HR/RBI/100+mph/SO), then Aroldis "launches" will quickly surpass Alexei's "launches" by whatever measure you wish to choose.

  18. The Merchant says:

    If any nickname was sacred, it was LT. Yet nobody thinks Tomlinson being called LT is disrespecting the original LT (including Taylor), nor do I think people think it's selling Tomlinson's rushing brilliance short. I know ur a die-hard fan and all, but let me try to say this gently: Alexei Ramirez is no LT (and neither is Aroldis Chapman). Until each of them logs in 5-10 years of exceptional play in the Majors, this just looks like a couple of grade school kids arguing whose dad could beat the other one up. I will say this, IF Chapman continues to consistently throw the ball at 103-105 mph EFFECTIVELY, that WILL change the game of béisbol and will bring up the level of play of his pitching counterparts/new talent. I doubt the same can be said if Alexei continues to deliver his "launch" numbers throughout his career.

    p.s. I do think Fidel Fasthrow is kind of funny, if not a teensy bit un-pc.

    (sorry for the multiple posts…it made me do it)

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