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.
After 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.
Now, 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:
- It has to reference his native Cuba.
- 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…