This weekend’s Mariners-Blue Jays series contains many variables affecting things far beyond wins and losses. Justus Sheffield is slated to start the Friday game for Seattle, hoping to improve upon his April outing in which he cooked up four walks in three innings. The following night, the Mariners plan to unveil Félix Hernández again, in what will almost surely be one of his last home starts in the stadium (and against the same team, no less), that he once emphatically declared HIS HOUSE.
Whose house?— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) September 22, 2016
King Felix letting 'em know. pic.twitter.com/gWn5CtjVoG
In addition to the intrigue on the mound, the Blue Jays’ crop of trust fund babies make their first trips to Seattle, with western Canadian border crossings becoming turnstiles for people who think getting drunk at other people’s house parties is a personality trait. Perhaps even more importantly, the team that wins this series will directly sabotage their own 2020 draft slot as both Seattle and Toronto jostle for a top pick.
But instead of the customary Northwest green and royal blue jerseys lining both dugouts, this weekend’s versions of the Mariners and Blue Jays will wear these threads they repurposed from a K-Mart rack in 2009.
While MLB decided to strip this year’s Players’ Weekend uniforms of any colors in order to emphasize the vibrant cleats, socks, and arm sleeves that will be on display, they still feature the players’ personally selected nicknames. Except, like, it seems like they’ll be pretty hard to read with these color schemes? The white ones look like they’d be a hit with every mid-2000s bro who spiked his hair and wore Oakleys on the back of his head, and the black ones are the torso equivalent of a wallet chain. You’ve done it again, Major League Baseball!
Anyway, the Mariners have a couple players demonstrating fun and silly senses of creativity on their nameplates. Others, infuriatingly, chose to play it extremely safe, like Cory Gearrin’s “C.G.” or Dylan Moore’s “D MO”. Kyle Seager just went with SEAGER, which is funny in a “It is your birthday” type of way.
Without further ado, let’s rank the best Players’ Weekend nicknames on the 2019 Mariners. You can find the entire list here courtesy of Greg Johns, who also has some explanations for the various choices.
10. Tommy Milone: TOMASO
Did you know in Milone’s case, Tommy is short for Tomaso? Of course you didn’t. While it’s technically public information, part of the reason Tomaso was such a secret is because absolutely nobody calls him that. Milone revealed as much to Greg Johns while also making his dad sound rad as hell.
“My mom calls me Thomas. My dad calls me by names you probably can’t say out loud,” he said with a laugh. “More and more people that find out that’s my real name start using it, but it hasn’t really stuck yet. Maybe one day.”
I’m guessing NAMES YOU PROBABLY CAN’T SAY OUT LOUD was Milone’s first choice, but it’s a touch too long to fit on a shirt. Oh well. From this day forth, we will refer to Tommy Milone exclusively as TOMASO.
9. Félix Hernández: KING FELIX
A modern take on a classic, Félix went with the name that has buttered his bread since he was a minor leaguer. This is like when your favorite artist releases a “new” album, but it’s just a bunch of their old songs that have been remastered and comes with a monochromatic album cover.
As the king’s career crawls to a wholly depressing end, let’s not lose sight of just how good this nickname is.
Also, the symbolism of Félix making potentially his last Saturday night start in Seattle, draped in black, with KING FELIX across his shoulders, is not lost on me.
8. Tom Murphy: STASHU
Upon first hearing that the greatest catcher of all-time selected STASHU as his nickname, I added another scoop of mystery on to the man who seemingly materialized from thin air to join the Mariners, hit dingers, and cartwheel into our hearts. This seemed like such an esoteric choice, perhaps alluding to his facial hair, or some moniker he picked up in the minor leagues. The legend of Tom Murphy continues, I thought.
Turns out STASHU was Murphy’s grandfather’s nickname and Tom is donning the name as a tribute to him. As a standalone, STASHU is a top tier entry just because of how fun it is to say, but learning that it’s a heartfelt shoutout to his grandfather only elevated it more.
7. Mallex Smith: WATER
Every one of us knows that Mallex Smith has been a disappointment on the field this season. After posting a .367 on-base percentage, 117 wRC+, and 3.4 fWAR last year in Tampa, the displaced Floridian has flirted with a sub-.300 OBP all season while striking out in a fourth of his plate appearances.
Still, what Mallex has lacked in baseball skills he has tripled in other areas, including beautiful smiles, necklaces depicting state geography, and enriching interactions with Dee Gordon. Their conversation about Players’ Weekend, again courtesy of Greg Johns, is a top-ten moment of the Mariners’ wretched season.
The fleet-footed outfielder hung this moniker on himself at the start of the year for a simple reason: “Because I flow anywhere.” Hard to argue with that, though his teammate Gordon doesn’t hesitate.
“Water can be cut off at any time,” teased Gordon.
“Does the ocean ever stop?” countered Smith. “It flows all the time. If lightning hits water, I still flow. You don’t see lightning every day. Everybody needs water. Every. Single. Day. You need your daily dose. Your body is made of 70 percent water. Everybody is water, but they can’t be ‘Water.’ There’s only one ‘Water.’”
(Scott Servais recently tried to disprove the theory that everybody needs water every single day.)
6. Erik Swanson: SWANNY POPS
How about you Swanny Pop yourself into the starting rotation, Erik?
5. Dee Gordon: ⚡️
In past Players’ Weekends, Dee Gordon has worn VARIS (short for Devaris, his full name), and VARIS STRANGE (a nod to his late mother, Devonna Strange) but never FLASH, which would be the predictable move.
Once again, Dee has zigged when we expected him to zag. Reportedly inspired by Brad Boxberger’s emoji-clad jersey last season when the Mariners were in Arizona, Dee has also looked to the alternative keyboard for his 2019 look. Wearing an emoji in place of a name is a quintessential Players’ Weekend act, both demonstrating the evolution of Major League Baseball’s fun policies and language. The lightning emoji captures Dee’s aura very well, and also reminded me that if Kyle Seager had chosen the peach emoji I would have bought 73 of his jerseys.
Gordon’s conversation with Greg Johns also produced the best quote of the whole lot.
The question is whether a thin lightning bolt emoji will be visible as the lone symbol on his jersey, but Gordon has no concerns.
“I’m skinny, bro,” Gordon said. “It’s going to look like a billboard on my back.”
4. Austin Adams & Brandon Brennan (tie): A2 and B2
This one is made much better by the fact that the pair of relievers didn’t know about the other’s choice.
3. Wade LeBlanc: FRENCHY
Wade LeBlanc is not from France. Wade LeBlanc is from Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is 4,980 miles from France, but does have sizable Creole and Cajun populations.
So, try to stick with me here, Wade’s last name is LeBlanc, which, in French, translates to The White. While it would have been way funnier if Wade had just put THE WHITE, or WHITE GUY on his back, FRENCHY is still a strong choice. He does sort of pitch with an inherent “Who cares?” and submissive vibe, which feels very French. Hopefully the Mariners have prepared some sort of video of Wade LeBlanc teaching us French or trying to decipher French phrases.
2. Anthony Bass: T-FISH
Anthony can be shortened to Tony, which can be shortened to T.
Bass is a type of fish.
Thus spawned the iconic T-FISH, which both took some critical thinking beyond the realm of typical baseball nicknames, and sounds like a very non-threatening rapper.
We have no choice but to stan T-FISH.
1. Daniel Vogelbach: THE BABE
I see zero differences here.