Wily Mo Pena, Jonny Gomes and the rest of MLB's Missing Consonants All-Stars
For as long as there has been baseball, there have been baseball players with odd names. But while the Jazz Chisholms and Cisco Factors of the world get all of the attention, we're here to celebrate something much more specific -- the MLB All-Missing Consonant Team, a full lineup dedicated to those who fought back against the hegemony of traditional naming conventions ... by daring to get rid of a letter.
Because, really, why be one of 130 all-time big league Matts, when you can be the one and only Mat?
Catcher: Welington Castillo
Starting catcher for the D-backs, six-year MLB vet, licensed head massage therapist:
First base: Darin Erstad
Erstad played 14 years in the big leagues, including 11 with the Angels -- where he won three Gold Glove Awards, made two All-Star teams and helped capture the 2002 World Series by doing stuff like this:
Who may have made off with the extra 'r'? Possibly Aaron Altherr, but probably the Rally Monkey. Never trust the Rally Monkey.
Second base: Bret Boone
Boone's 14-year career peaked in 2001 with the Mariners, when he clubbed 37 homers and finished third in American League MVP voting. By that point, any and all superfluous consonants had been summarily bat flipped into the ether:
Shortstop: Jefry Marte (Captain)
Marte was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Mets in 2007, and made his Major League debut this past season with the Tigers. Marte was recently dealt from Detroit to the Angels, but his willingness to drop not one but two letters from his name means the All-Missing Consonant Team has made him untouchable in trade talks.
Third base: Denis Menke
A two-time All-Star who played 13 years with the Braves, Astros and Reds, Menke was involved in one of the most notorious trades of all time -- the deal that sent Joe Morgan from Houston to Cincinnati before the 1972 season, jump-starting the Big Red Machine. Just as importantly, his first name was pilfered by Jordan Zimmermann.
Left field: Garret Anderson
Over 2,500 career hits, 287 home runs, 17 years in the big leagues. As if his Hall of Fame case needed any more padding, consider: He only needed one "t" to make Garret work.
Center field: Wil Myers
Myers has battled injuries since winning AL Rookie of the Year honors back in 2013, but he's still just 25 and capable of doing things like this:
And speaking of dingers by men who have no need for multiple Ls in their name ...
Right field: Wily Mo Pena
Pena hasn't graced America with his brilliance since 2011, so we'll get out of the way and allow you to enjoy the full Wily Mo experience.
Here's Wily Mo going 492 feet to dead center:
Here's Wily Mo hitting a baseball into a fountain:
Here's Wily Mo walking off:
DH: Jonny Gomes
Starter: Mat Latos
Latos played for three different teams in 2015, but he's just a year removed from posting a 3.25 ERA with the Reds. So while he and Cat Latos remain free agents, we can only assume it's because he'll be forming a super Missing Consonants rotation with Bret Saberhagen and Wily Peralta.
Update: The White Sox just signed Latos -- clearly they listened to us.
Closer: Scot Shields
Shields served as the lights-out setup man to Troy Percival on the perennially contending Angels teams of the early '00s. He spent his entire 10-year career in Anaheim, posting a 3.18 ERA with 631 strikeouts in 697 innings.
Manager: Jimy Williams
We can think of no better leader of the All-Missing Consonant Team than the man who debuted in the Majors against Sandy Koufax and picked up his first big league hit off Juan Marichal. Williams also did his fair share of managing, winning 910 games over 11 seasons and guiding the Red Sox to the 1999 ALCS -- for which he was named AL Manager of the Year.