One thing we all have in common, apart from a deep and abiding desire to see Ben Bernanke wear a funny hat, is that each of us came into being without the benefit of a name, at least until such time that our guardians – or, in the case of Vlad the Impaler, our prophetic marketing executives – supplied us with the “nominal support” we’d eventually need while waiting for our vanilla lattes at Starbucks, because if there’s anything that creates havoc, it’s 26 patrons answering to “Hey, you.” What I’m saying is that somebody slapped a name on you, and unless you’re Vin Diesel – in which case Hi, Mr. Diesel! Love your work! – you still sign that name to birthday cards and death threats, which isn’t particularly smart because if you are anything like me, many of those threats are directed at Vlad the Impaler, who, though very much dead, actually answers to the name “Scooter.”
For my part, I’m disappointed in the name my own guardians chose, especially since the name Vontaze Burfict was still on the board at the time. (I also would have accepted Leandro Barbosa, Joaquin Phoenix, Rocco Baldelli and Ke$ha.) Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I’m not named Little Debbie Snack Cakes Paschal, Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea Paschal or Joanie Loves Chachi Paschal. I’m especially glad I’m not named Antipope Paschal III. Why? Because if I were Antipope Paschal III, I’d have had to renounce my real name while in hot pursuit of my antipopery. And that would have been be stupid because Guido of Crema – seriously, that was the guy’s real name: Guido of Crema – just might be the greatest name in the history of history, and that includes the parts of history that gave us Marcus Aurelius, Cool Papa Bell and Precious Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire.
The name Guido of Crema is instructive here, and not just because it gives us a chance to imagine Guido of Crema of Wheat as a health-conscious habitué of Crema-area malls but also because it points to names I personally would have embraced, if indeed Guido of Crema had already been taken and if indeed I had not been born Mark Vincent and/or Sinclair, because if I had, I would have changed my name to Vin Diesel and made a truckload of cash.
The fact of the matter is that I’ve always craved a name like that of an Italian violinist or bicycle racer, something like Fabio L’Amore or Claudio Amente di Talento, but instead I got a name like that of a 22-handicapper at the local muni. It’s certainly true that like Mr. né Vincent and/or Sinclair, I could have changed my name to something extra-powerful like Vic Super-Unleaded or Tommy Turbo-Boost, but that’s just a whole lot of paperwork. What I’m left with is the name up there in the byline – the name you’d have already forgotten had I not directed you to the aforementioned byline, or if I didn’t still owe you $8.50 after our match at the aforementioned muni.
What we’re left with – some of us, anyway – is the ability to name other things, some animate and others inanimate. Think about it: Somebody had to name this planet, and instead of “Earth” it could have been “Juice Newton.” Somebody had to name this universe, and instead of “this universe” it could have been “Cleveland” or “Flensburger Dunkel.” And somebody gets to name your next child, and that somebody is you and that child is the next Guido of Crema or maybe the first Guido of Poughkeepsie.
This will prove especially challenging if you live in Syracuse.
The other things we get to name – besides imaginary rock bands, I mean; mine is Sound of Sunrise and I am its mercurial guitarist, Edge/Slash – are big-league ballparks. Well, we don’t get to name them, exactly. Guys who wear power ties get to name them, and then they get to go to Palm Springs.
But what if you and I did get to name the ballparks? Huh? What if?
The question is especially pertinent in light of the recent rechristening that gave us Globe Life Park in Arlington, which sounds a lot like a very large stadium in which a very talented charlatan will bilk thousands of very honest citizens out of their very hard-earned money and eventually convince them to grow very illegal crops for his very fruitful benefit, in Arlington. Right?
And you’re like, “I totes could’ve done better than Globe freakin’ Life!”
Right. Well, here’s your chance. Name a ballpark, any ballpark.
Yankee Stadium? Name it Juice Newton. Name it Steve.
Fenway Park? Name it Beard-A-Palooza Ballpark & Grille. (You’ve given it that extra “e,” I’m assuming, to really class up the joint. It’s kind of like my favorite strip club, Baby Doll’s House of Boobeeze.)
Petco Park? Name it anything but Petco Park. Please.
OK? I’ll start. And since Globe Life Park, né Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, is my home stadium, I’ll start there by calling it FHI Heat Platform Nano Salon Pro 2000 Powerful Tourmaline Ceramic Hair Dryer Ballpark, because during a day game in August, that’s what’s blowing in your face.
Gentlemen and gentlewomen, start your equally hot creative engines.
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.