Who named 'The Night Shift'? Let them (kind of) explain

March 19th, 2022

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- As the baseball world waited to see if he’d add a starting pitcher, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos instead added one of the game’s best closers to a bullpen that became widely known as The Night Shift while guiding Atlanta toward last year’s World Series title.

When three-time All-Star joins the Braves on Sunday and becomes their closer, he’ll be introduced to The Night Shift’s executive board, which consists of former closer Will Smith, Luke Jackson, and .

Jansen and , who signed on Tuesday, are the latest members of the club. Darren O’Day could be added by the end of Spring Training, and another former All-Star closer, , might be initiated by the end of the summer. This has a chance to be the game’s deepest and most reliable bullpen.

So before The Night Shift possibly becomes better known across the baseball world, it’s time to figure out how this group gained this name.

Jackson: Because I’m highly intellectual. It all started when PETA was saying the term "bullpen" wasn’t appropriate. So everyone started coming up with names like The Gas Station and Arm Barn and stuff like that. I was like, "Why don’t we go as The Night Shift and have T-shirts made?"

Matzek: I don’t know if it was Luke who came up with it.

Minter: It couldn’t have been Luke. He couldn’t have thought of something that clever.

Smith: We played so late, that’s just what we started calling ourselves. We always mess with the starting pitchers by saying they are the QB1s and we’re the offensive linemen. They get all the fancy stuff, and we’re just The Night Shift in the back. It was kind of just a joke. You know how our bullpen is. We’re kind of weird.

Pitching coach Rick Kranitz: I didn’t even hear anything about them being referred to as The Night Shift until the World Series. I heard it and was like, "That is so cool." I don’t know who dug that up or created it. But I’m guessing it wasn’t Luke.

Matzek: Luke is convinced he’s right at all times.

Minter: We decided as a bullpen that whatever Luke says, you have to divide it in half and then you get the real story.

Jackson: Matzek thought it was super cool. So he used it in an interview. But it’s just natural fluff that came from me. He wants to steal the credit, and that’s fine.

O’Day: Luke is delusional. The Night Shift sounds like, I don’t know. I’d guess Smitty (Will Smith) is the architect.

Minter: The first time I heard it was when Matzek said it during the playoffs.

Matzek: No it wasn’t. That’s only because you’re like a loner out in the bullpen. It was said long before that, maybe in August.

Minter: Really?

Matzek: People mentioned it, and then it started to catch on.

Austin Riley: The Night Shift is pretty funny. They’re one of a kind. They really meshed together, and it’s nice to have them on the back end. Whether Luke came up with it or not, I’m not surprised.

Kranitz: My guess is it was Matzek.

Jackson: I’m pretty sure it was a home press conference when I first mentioned The Night Shift. It wasn’t during the postseason. It was like going into it, or during the first round in Milwaukee. I was the first one to say it, but people picked up on it after Matzek said [it] during a postseason press conference.

Matzek: It just slipped out. I wasn't even thinking about it. We were using it down in the bullpen, and it just slipped out. I was just jacked up and said we're ready to go. I referred to us as The Night Shift because that’s what we had referred to ourselves as down there.

Smith: Then the shirts starting showing up, and now we have a Night Shift bobblehead. It’s a cool thing. We’re a tight little group down there. We enjoy each other.

Kranitz: I don’t know who came up with the term. I’d say if Darren O’Day was here, it would have been him.

Smith: We refuse to give Luke any kind of credit. It’s not going to go well. But whatever happens, Matzek will at least keep him in line.