Predicting the nicknames Cubs players will wear on new MLB jerseys

Predicting the nicknames Cubs players will wear on new MLB jerseys

Yahoo's Jeff Passan dropped a bomb of sorts Wednesday evening, saying Major League Baseball will actually relax their uniform rules for one weekend in August (25-27).

That's huge because the league has typically been very buttoned-up (pun intended) on teams' uniforms and instead of a very stingy set of guidelines, players will be able to wear jerseys with nicknames on the backs, boast fluorescent-colored shoes or wear a personalized patch to pay tribute to someone instrumental in their development.

The league sent around a memo and is calling the event "Players Weekend," allowing the game's stars to show their personalities on the field. The Cubs will be in Philadelphia taking on the Phillies that weekend. 

The loud-colored shoes and patches are cool and all, but let's be honest: The nicknames will be the best part for fans. (It will also be the best part for MLB as they can easily sell the jerseys and shirseys with the nicknames on it as a way to rake in bonus cash.)

Will somebody use "HE HATE ME" like the XFL star? How many baseball movie references will there be like "Willie Mays Hayes" or "The Rocket"?

Let's try to predict what nicknames the Cubs players will have on their uniforms (working with the current roster since we can't predict the future as awesome as that would be):

Jake Arrieta - "The Body"

Rationale: "Jake the Snake" is kinda lame. Let's say he goes with "The Body" after his nude appearance in ESPN's body issue.

Eddie Butler - "Big Red" 

Rationale: He's got red hair (though he is only 6-foot-2).

Wade Davis - "Beethoven" 

Rationale: The Cubs closer used to listen to Beethoven before games and the quiet, calm veteran is also not exactly a "Hell's Bells" or "Rage Against the Machine" kinda guy.

Brian Duensing - "Duenston Checks In" 

Rationale: After that sweet '90s movie with Jason Alexander.

Carl Edwards Jr. - "String Bean Slinger

Rationale: "CJ" is too easy and lame. "String Bean Slinger" is Edwards' former Twitter handle, so let's throw that on there.

Justin Grimm - "The Grimm Reaper" 

Rationale: I mean, duhhh.

John Lackey - "Blue" 

Rationale: Of the "You're my boy, Blue!" fame in "Old School." Lackey is the oldest player on the Cubs not named Koji, he may have actually written baseball's old-school "unwritten rules" and the Cubs' color is blue.

Jon Lester - "Big Game Jon"

Rationale: He stole it from his buddy Lackey after his reputation as a clutch performer and had an epic 2016 postseason with the Cubs, shutting down the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS, winning co-NLCS MVP and then coming up huge in relief in Game 7 of the World Series.

Mike Montgomery - "Accidental Closer"

Rationale: Let's be honest, it will probably be "Monty." We just wanted to get a bit more creative with the 6-foot-5 lefty who picked up his first professional save by getting the final out of the World Series.

Hector Rondon - "Carlos Rodon"

Rationale: How many casual fans confuse these two guys based on last name alone?

Pedro Strop - "Full Tilt"

Rationale: Strop never wears his hat straight and draws a ton of completely unwarranted hate because of it. It would be hilarious to draw attention to that fact for three days.

Koji Uehara - "Doc"

Rationale: He's old and he throws slow.

Willson Contreras - "Castaway"

Rationale: It will almost assuredly be "Willy" but that's too easy because we feel like people refer to him more as "Willy" than "Willson" anyways. So we just went with a "WILLSON!!!" reference.

Miguel Montero - "Captain America"

Rationale: Again, it will be "Miggy," but we wanted to pay tribute to Montero's hard work for gaining American citizenship, passing a test he joked most of his teammates couldn't pass (we couldn't either).

Javy Baez - "Bubble Boy"

Rationale: Javy has more flair than almost anybody in baseball and maybe his best moment ever was when he dropped the bubble gum in San Francisco but caught it and pointed at the camera, oozing with swag.

Kris Bryant - "Sparkle"

Rationale: There's no point in even trying to deny his dreamy blue eyes. 

Ian Happ - "Baby Zo"

Rationale: He's the young version of Ben Zobrist, right?

Anthony Rizzo - "THE GREATEST LEADOFF HITTER EVER"

Rationale: In all caps. Has to be in all caps.

Addison Russell - "Addyshack"

Rationale: You know, like Caddyshack?

Ben Zobrist - "Zorilla"

Rationale: Has. To. Be.

Albert Almora Jr. - "Not-so-fat Albert"

Rationale: We're out of creative juices, sorry.

Jason Heyward - "Reign Man"

Rationale: We wanted to have more fun than just "J-Hey" and wanted to pay tribute to the awesome CSN feature on Heyward's legendary Game 7 rain delay meeting.

Jon Jay - "The Sixth Man" or "Sidekick"

Rationale: Joe Maddon has had a lot of money quotes about Jay this season, comparing him to a good sixth man in basketball based on his talent off the bench and the Cubs manager saying he would adopt Jay as a son or a sidekick because he loves the veteran outfielder so much. 

Kyle Schwarber - America's Large Adult Son

Rationale: Don't even try to pretend like you don't get the reference.

How Cubs reached the breaking point with Kyle Schwarber

How Cubs reached the breaking point with Kyle Schwarber

MIAMI – Theo Epstein scoffed at the possibility of sending a World Series hero down to the minors on May 16, writing the headline with this money quote: “If anyone wants to sell their Kyle Schwarber stock, we’re buying.”

If the Cubs aren’t dumping their Schwarber stock, they’re definitely reassessing their investment strategy, trying to figure out how such a dangerous postseason hitter had become one of the least productive players in the majors.

The overall portfolio hasn’t changed that much since the team president’s vote of confidence, Schwarber batting .179 for the defending champs then and .171 when the Cubs finally made the decision to demote him to Triple-A Iowa. That 18-19 team is now 36-35 and still waiting for that hot streak. 

What took so long?

“The honest answer is we believe in him so much,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday. “He’s never struggled like this. We kept thinking that he was going to come out of it. We got to a point where we felt like mentally he probably needed a break before he could come out of this. 

“The honest answer is patience. We’ve got a guy who’s never really struggled. He was the best hitter in college baseball. He blew through the minor leagues. Last year in the World Series, he performed. We just felt like he was going to turn himself around.

“It just got to a place where we felt like the right way for this to come together was to allow him to get away from the team, to take a deep breath and be able to work on some things in a lower-pressure environment.”   

The Cubs plan to give Schwarber a few days off before he reports to Iowa, an idea that would have seemed unthinkable after watching his shocking recovery from knee surgery and legendary performance (.971 OPS) against the Cleveland Indians in last year’s World Series.

But preparing for one opponent and running on adrenaline through 20 plate appearances is completely different from handling the great expectations and newfound level of fame and doing it for an entire 162-game season.   

This might actually be the most normal part of Schwarber’s career after his meteoric rise from No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft to breakout star in the 2015 playoffs to injured and untouchable during last year’s trade talks with the New York Yankees. 

“There’s been a long and illustrious list of guys that have gone through this,” manager Joe Maddon said. “When a guy’s good, he’s good. Sometimes – especially when they’re this young – you just got to hit that reset button. It’s hard for a young player who’s never really struggled before to struggle on this stage and work his way through it.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

“There’s no scarlet letter attached to this. It’s just the way it happens sometimes. You have to do what you think is best. We think this is best for him right now. We know he’s going to be back.” 

When? The Cubs say they don’t have a certain number of Pacific Coast League at-bats in mind for a guy who’s played only 17 career games at the Triple-A level.

Maddon pointed out how Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee needed minor-league sabbaticals/refresher courses before becoming Cy Young Award winners and two of the best pitchers of their generation.

New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto – another college hitter the Cubs closely scouted before taking Schwarber in the 2014 draft – has gone from the 2015 World Series to Triple-A Las Vegas for parts of last season to potential All-Star this year.

The Cubs fully expect their Schwarber stock to rebound – whether or not the turnaround happens in time to impact the 2017 bottom line.    

“I’m still sticking by him,” Maddon said. “But at some point, you have to be pragmatic. You have to do what’s best for everybody. We thought at this point that we weren’t going to necessarily get him back to where we need him to be just by continuing this same path.

“It’s not a matter of us not sticking with him anymore. We just thought this was the best way to go to really get him well, so that we could utilize the best side of Kyle moving forward.”

CubsTalk Podcast: Reacting to Kyle Schwarber's demotion and Mike Montgomery on his evolution

CubsTalk Podcast: Reacting to Kyle Schwarber's demotion and Mike Montgomery on his evolution

Tony Andracki, Scott Changnon and Jeff Nelson react in real time to the breaking news that Kyle Schwarber was demoted to the minor leagues. Plus, the trio play around with expansion drafts and who the most indispensable players on the Cubs are.

[RELATED - Inside the numbers on Schwarber's season-long struggles]

Patrick Mooney also goes 1-on-1 with Cubs swingman southpaw Mike Montgomery about the lanky lefty’s role and how he got here.

Check out the entire Podcast here.