Monday, August 17, 2009

Dog days of summer

Yesterday it hit 87 degrees. Today, it's supposed to get up to 90. That doesn't happen very often around here, and I didn't think it would happen at all this year given the generally cool summer.

Because of that, the air conditioner is still in storage and now it's way too hot to think about hauling it out. Instead, I've got a post handy to fit the occasion. In keeping with the "dog days of summer," I'm going to feature my all-time dog team.

These aren't "dogs" in that the players are no-good, lowdown cheating losers. I mean, I don't know them that well. Besides, I've got to keep it light. No negativity. It's 90 out there. Nothing but cool thoughts.

These are "dogs," in that all the players feature a "dog" nickname. And somehow I found a player for each position. So I present you with the All-Dog Nickname Team. I don't have a clever name for it. I'm sure you can come up with something on your own. The "butt-sniffers," or something like that.

Announcing your starting lineup:

1. CF - Lance Johnson, "One Dog": I believe his nickname is based on his uniform number and the fact that he hit lead-off a lot. So I've got the perfect person to start things off.

2. 2B - Orlando Hudson, "O-Dog": From what I've read, his nickname comes from the character "O-Dog" in the early '90s ghetto film Menace II Society. That "O-Dog" was a little trigger-happy. Orlando seems much nicer.

3. LF - Stan Musial, "The Donora Greyhound": Everyone knows him as "Stan the Man," but "The Donora Greyhound" was a common nickname, too. It comes from the fact that Musial was from Donora, Pa., and he was quick. It sounds like a nickname thought up by some old-time newspaper guy. The writing was a lot more, shall we say "fragrant," back then.

4. 1B - Fred McGriff, "Crime Dog": Oh, it pains me to put a player with a nickname created by Chris Berman on the list. But this is one of the ESPN blowhard's less offensive monikers. The nickname is based on the cartoon dog, "McGruff," which encouraged kids to "take a bit out of crime." What that has to do with McGriff is a complete mystery.

5. DH - Mo Vaughn, "Hit Dog": Vaughn went to Seton Hall, where he was nicknamed by his fraternity brothers. I saw "Hit Dog" blast a home run at Fenway Park. That was back when Red Sox fans loved him. During the skinnier part of his career.

6. RF - Jay Buhner, "Bone": Sadly, the nickname has nothing to do with dogs. According to a Sports Illustrated article, it came from his high school coach. Buhner lost a fly ball in the lights and the ball hit him in the head. The coach said, "it's a good thing you've got a bony head," and Buhner's nickname became "Bonehead," which was shortened to "Bone."

But I say he belongs on the All-Dog Nickname Team because of that SI cover:

See? Buhner has his bone. Isn't that a good doggy? Good enough for the list.

7. 3B - Chris Sabo, "Spuds": Sabo had the misfortune to be playing when "Spuds McKenzie," a bull terrier, became a sensation selling Bud Light on TV. Sabo's manager Pete Rose noticed an immediate resemblance. The nickname stuck, because everyone else noticed an immediate resemblance, too. Great nickname, Pete.

8. C - Bruce Benedict, "Retriever": I like this nickname a lot better than his other one, "Eggs," which was also dreamed up by Chris Berman (I came across so many cringe-inducing Berman nicknames researching this post). Benedict got the nickname "retriever," because of all the knuckleballs -- presumably thrown by Phil Niekro --that he missed and would then have to run back to the screen to retrieve.

9. SS - Rex Hudler, "The Wonder Dog": Rex got his nickname from the old D.C. Comics character "Rex the Wonder Dog" from the 1950s. Hudler was one of those guys who played forever. And he played everywhere. Fortunately, he played at shortstop a little, so he makes the team.

P - Greg Maddux, "Mad Dog": I'm going with two starting pitchers. And they're both righties, too. Maddux, I believe, got his nickname with the Braves. And unless there's a story I don't know, it's based strictly on his name. Too many of today's nicknames are based solely on a person's name (all of the Berman ones are), which isn't nearly as clever as most past nicknames that were based on personality, looks or background.

P - Orel Hershiser, "Bulldog": You didn't think I'd forget about Hershiser, did you? Hershiser's nickname was acquired thanks to Tommy Lasorda, who used it as a motivational tool for a struggling Hershiser in 1984. Hershiser took it to heart and that bulldog mentality appeared again and again.

So there you are. The All-Dog Nickname Team. I hope I made you forget for at least a minute or two that it is hot out there. I know I did when I was writing it. Of course, by now, I'm probably in the air-conditioned comfort of my office, wishing I was sweltering and not at work.


  1. Bill Madlock not on there? Mad Dog

  2. Already had a Mad Dog on the team and 3B was taken up by Spuds. See? This is very scientific.

  3. You missed a reliever. How about the Mad Hungarian- Al Hrabosky?

  4. Woops... my bad- were going for dog references!

  5. Willie "Hot Dog" Montanez could be a good pinch hitter and defensive replacement.

  6. The back of Don Drysdale's 1959 card says that he was called

  7. Buhner looks like he could blow pyro smoke out of his nose on that SI cover.

    Cripes, I can't believe I just made a Goldberg reference.

  8. McGriff, Mo, and Greg maddux? Damn....excellent team there/

  9. Another great post...good reading! I had a good laugh at #8, Bruce Benedict, because I have that card on my bookcase. My wife's cousin is named Bruce Benedict (NOT the baseball player) and when we got married, she thought that was funny and kept that card.

  10. I thought about Willie, but went with Buhner instead. I like Buhner.