Angry Ward Wednesday: Game Changers

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Greetings from Grapefruit country. I just blew into town yesterday so I won’t be reporting on Spring Training until next week. Today I’m taking it easy for all you sinners out there. We’re gonna keep it real simple because there’s a pool to swim in and a powerful thirst to slake. In fact, let’s crack a beer. (Man do I feel for all of those saps who give up booze for Lent). Anyway, today we’re gonna look at sports figures who changed their names and whether or not those changes were for the better or worse. Here we go.

Cassius Clay –> Muhammad Ali. Y’know I may be in the minority on this one but I always thought that Cassius Clay was a pretty cool name. Sure Ali became a heavyweight legend and an all-around icon but he could have just as easily done the same with his given name. Cassius Clay beat the shit out of the baddest man on the planet, Sonny Liston, and he sounded like a pretty bad mofo himself.

George Hitler –> George Steinbrenner. The Boss really didn’t want to give up his surname but the suits in MLB wouldn’t let him buy the Yankees otherwise. He stuck with something as German-sounding as he could, but was never happy about it. Billy Martin used to call Big George “Mein Fuhrer” to his face and Steinbrenner secretly loved it. Some years later, Bart Giamatti quashed Marge Schott’s attempts to change her name to Eva Braun.

Chad Johnson –> Chad Ochocinco. Chad Johnson used to be regarded as one of the NFL’s elite receivers and a hard worker to boot. Ocho Cinco is famous for inviting people to dinner on Twitter. Besides, if you were gonna change one of your names wouldn’t it be Chad?

Gordon Sumner –> Sting. Gordon Sumner was one of the top snooker players in the world when he gave it all up for a band named after a bunch of cops and changed his name to his favorite movie. This one was an even trade.

Chris Jackson –> Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. A star basketball player at LSU, Jackson didn’t amount to much in the NBA. Despite what many think, Jackson changed his name not out of want, but necessity. Afflicted with tourettes, whenever he tried to introduce himself as Chris Jackson it came out sounding like Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

Pom Pom Mom –> Momdonna –> Madonna. Few can argue that the former matronly Rams cheerleader Pom Pom Mom traded up when she switched her moniker to Madonna. But hardly anyone remembers her transitional period as Momdonna and her semi-hit “Like a Rams Fan.”

Matt McCarthy –> Short Matt. You don’t drop a good Irish name like McCarthy only to add the word “short” to your first name. For starters that is no way to meet women. Secondly, Short Matt sounds like a really awful Starbucks order. Epic fail.

Lew Alcindor –> Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This one really worked. Lew Alcindor sounds like an acountant while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sounds like someone who could go toe-to-toe, literally, with Bruce Lee.

B.J. Upton –> Kate Upton. Best name change ever. Her baseball career was going nowhere and she was never gonna get past the snickers that accompanied the name B.J. She’s one savvy (and sexy) 19-year-old.

Satan –> Lucifer –> Beelzebub –> Jerry Jones. Ya gotta give the guy credit for trying. He almost went from Beelzebub to Beelzebubba, thinking it was more “country” but instead went with his latest incarnation. His current torture of Cowboys fans is sublime. The smirking Romo one of his most hideous creations to date.

Beer’s done. Time for another. That’s all for this week. Tune in for Ram Rules manana.

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About Angry Ward 661 Articles
Angry Ward, who has admirers at the New York Times, is the quintessential angry sports fan but for one exception... he's flat-out funny. And the angrier he gets, the more amusing his work becomes. Psychiatrists say, "Angry Ward's 'anger' is a direct result of "Bronx/Mets syndrome: growing up in the Bronx as a Mets fan." As if that weren't enough, his Minnesota North Stars abandoned him for Dallas, forcing him to embrace The Wild the way Nancy Pelosi embraces Mitch McConnell at charity events. And while his Vikings only tease him with success, his Golden State Warriors actually win these days. A-Dubya is MTM's longest-tenured indentured servant, its Larry David and quite simply, "The Franchise." (Junoir Blaber disputes this). Vent, curse and giggle with him on Angry Ward Wednesdays.