Angry Ward Wednesday: Sports Nicknames That Just Didn’t Work

New York Rangers v New York IslandersBRONX, NY – How about that Rangers/Islanders game last night? Wow! Right? The Rangers still have 4 games in hand, blah, blah, blah… Okay, thought I’d get that out of the way in anticipation of all of the, “Why aren’t we talking about the Rangers and/or Islanders?” comments today. What’s that? You want to talk about NFL free agency? Let’s just say that most of these signings will hurt teams more than help them, and that fantasy player you thought was so great, just went to Jacksonville or the Jets. Instead, I want to take a quick look at nicknames. You know who’s great at nicknames? Gangsters. I especially love when they give a guy a moniker the exact opposite of what he really is. Like when they call an ugly mug “Frankie Handsome” or a 350 lb. guy “Slim.” Hell, we’ve even got nicknames here at Meet The Matts. There’s “The Cheeseman,” “Grinding Ax,” “Fake Sandy,” “Angry,” and our fearless leader, who goes by “Brains,” another one of those antonym nicknames.

Sports has long been a fertile ground for great nicknames. You’ve got “The Mad Stork,” “Boom Boom,” “Sleepy,” and “Charlie Hustle” (which was suitable on a couple of levels) to name a few. Lately, though, nicknames are not near as imaginative or popular. And some are just flat-out wrong. What follows here is a list of sports nicknames that just didn’t quite measure up.


“The Sanchize.” Back in 2009 New York Jets players and fans dubbed rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez this before he ever played a down. The closest he ever came to achieving “Sanchize” status was when he invented the now-world-famous “Butt Fumble.” But, alas, it never turned into a “Butt Fumble Burger” or “Butt Fumble Brazilian Wax” chain.

“Captain Clutch.” Pfft. Everyone knows that Derek Jeter only drives automatic.

The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz.” A professional wrestler who was an absolute staple on midnight rasslin’ matches on WOR Channel 9 in New York during its not-yet-heyday in the 1970s, Rodz was anything but unpredictable. He would almost always wear the same striped wrestling tights, grapple gamely, and then lose. Betting on “The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz” was tantamount to wagering on the Washington Generals in basketball or writing for a start-up sports site with no real business plan.

“King Henrik.” Of what, exactly?

pMjmGtI“The Answer.” Allen Iverson was a lot of things both on and off the basketball court, but he was a hell of a lot closer to “the question” than “the answer,” as in, “Where the hell is Iverson?,” “Practice? Practice?,” and “How putrid would the Sixers be without Allen Iverson?” Okay, so we did get an answer to that last one, but otherwise Iverson was more mystery than solution.

“Mangenius.” What is it with the Jets and nicknames? Ever since Broadway Joe, Gang Green has been butt fumbling (™Mark Sanchez) around for their next big gimmick nickname to make them relevant again. They came close in the 1980s with The New York Sack Exchange, but came up laughably short when they decided to call head coach Eric Mangini “Mangenius.” Sure he ratted out Bill Belichick for cheating, which was kinda awesome, but tattling on his former boss proved to be the height of his football intelligence. He weeble-wobbled his way out after three seasons.

The Swiss Miss. I caught Martina Hingis’ act at the U.S. Open one year and felt a better nickname for her would have been the Swiss Bitch. She polished off some tomato can in an early-round match and then not-so-politely corrected the post-match interviewer who was a couple of minutes off in his assessment of how quickly she had won. She later was banned two years from the sport for testing positive for cocaine. That’s 17,520 hours.

ad2TNT. Heavyweight boxing also-ran Tony “TNT” Tubbs had an explosive appetite, but that’s about it. He would show up every once in a while to challenge for one title or another, his gigantic trunks pulled up to his tits, but almost always got extinguished before unleashing any sort of pugilistic pyrotechnics.

“The Game Saver.” My brother and I bestowed this nickname on former NY Mets third baseman Wayne Garrett during the mid-’70s, and to this day I am not sure why. This ginger hot corner guardian had a career .239 average and zero gold gloves to his name. My best guess is that he made a great play during a free Dairy Lea game we attended in 1975, but that does not a nickname warrant. Sorry, Wayne.

There’s plenty of other not-so-great nicknames, so feel free to add some of your own. And be sure to come back tomorrow for Pick A Name, whichever one you prefer.

P.s… Here’s a little something for you Rangers and Islanders fans:

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About Angry Ward 749 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.