Players Weekend is upon us. Today through Sunday, baseball presents a celebration of color, character and creativity, a time for easing the uniform rules and amplifying the amusement across the Major League landscape.
For one weekend only, the bats and cleats will be brighter, the uniforms will harken back to Little League and, in many cases, nicknames will replace surnames. The pennant races continue, but with some added flavor. "Corey's Brother" vs. "All Rise." "Moose" and "Papo" vs. "Cookie" and "Mr. Smile."
• Buy Players Weekend gear at MLBShop.com
It's a time for individuality and impact. Players will wear patches on their sleeves on which they'll write the name of a person or organization that helped them get where they are today, and game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off at MLB.com/auctions, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation.
• A guide to every Players Weekend nickname
And keep an eye out for uniquely colored and designed spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, catcher's masks and bats. Players also will wear specially designed caps by New Era, and unique socks from Stance. During pregame workouts and postgame interviews, they will wear T-shirts highlighting a charity or cause of their choice.
• Bold bats will fit in nicely on Players Weekend
This is all part of a broader plan to provide fans with more access, more insight into the people they love to watch play this great game. It's a way of showcasing the sport to kids in a way no league has never done.
It's an important platform, but it's also a playful one, and nothing demonstrates that better than the nicknames that will be blared across the backs of jerseys made by Majestic Athletic. Hundreds of players took ample advantage of this opportunity to get clever with the written word. So, here's an A to Z rundown of some names of note.
A is for the A-A Rons: Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks and Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr. This is a shout-out to a classic "Key & Peele" sketch on Comedy Central in which a substitute teacher has a decidedly difficult time pronouncing his students' names correctly. Though Hicks and Altherr (who is on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain) have similar senses of humor, they went with slightly different spellings, as Altherr added a second dash between the second A and the R. Hicks added to the good work going on in the Yanks' outfield, where rookie sensation Aaron Judge embraced the "All Rise" mantra.
Video: Judge nicknamed 'All Rise' for Players Weekend
B is for the "Big" boys: Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is "Big Kid." Red Sox pitcher Drew Pomeranz is "Big Smooth." Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara is "Big Chill." Braves first baseman Matt Adams is "Big City." Padres right fielder Jabari Blash is "Big Daddy." Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick is "Big Fudge" (yum). Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson is "Big Sweat" (yuck). White Sox pitcher Mike Pelfrey is "Big Pelf." And Canadian-born Mariners pitcher James Paxton is "Big Maple." We regret to report that Twins pitcher Bartolo Colon went with "Morales" over "Big Sexy," but we forgive him because he's Bartolo Colon.
C is for "Corey's Brother:" Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager's instant classic nod to his younger bro, who this weekend is nickname-less but anything but anonymous. This has been pointed to by many people as the best of the Players Weekend nicknames. Those people are accurate.
D is for "DDC:" The abbreviated name of the town from which Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw presides. Shaw has come to be known as the "Mayor of Ding Dong City," and it's a nickname with a high approval rating. Alas, it's a nickname with too many characters for a jersey, so Shaw issued an executive order to have it shortened for this event.
E is for "El Mago:" That's "The Magician," Cubs infielder Javier Baez. And there's really no better way to describe the wizardry this kid can display on the field with his snap tags and acrobatic plays.
Video: Castrovince on his favorite Players Weekend nicknames
F is for "Flaco Fuerte:" This moniker roughly translates to "skinny and strong." A pretty apt description of Rays ace Chris Archer.
G is for "Gibby:" This is the uncreative-but-long-lasting nickname on Blue Jays manager John Gibbons' jersey. Now, you might have noticed that many managers don't even display their jerseys, opting instead for those loose pullovers. But this is just a reminder that even though this is "Players" Weekend, managers and coaches got in on the fun, too.
H is for "Herrm the Worm:" The name D-backs catcher Chris Herrmann will wear, proving a nickname doesn't have to be especially brilliant to be great.
I is for integers: It's welcomely weird to see numbers interspersed within some names as opposed to just standing alone below them. By far the best use of this belongs to hard-throwing Astros reliever Ken Giles, aka "100 Miles Giles."
Video: Pitchers' nicknames for Players Weekend
J is for … the Pirates and Tigers? Well, yeah, because these teams love to shoot the J. On the Buccos, you've got either "JB" (Josh Bell) or "Easy J" (John Jaso) at first and "J Hay" (Josh Harrison) at second, with "J-Mo" (Jameson Taillon) starting things off, and "JB3" (Johnny Barbato) coming on in relief. The Tigers counter with either "JV" (Justin Verlander) or "JZ" (Jordan Zimmermann) on the hill, "Juicy J" (JaCoby Jones) and "J-Up" (Justin Upton) in the outfield.
Video: Harrison is looking forward to Players Weekend
K is for "Kiiiiid:" We would take issue with Mike Trout's use of this nickname over "The Millville Meteor." We would wonder aloud if it is, perhaps, a trespass on Ken Griffey Jr. terrain or if maybe he went overboard with the "I" usage. But remember, people: This is Trout we're talking about. He can do pretty much whatever he wants, because he's awesome.
Video: Trout takes on the nickname of Kiiiiid
L is for "Lo Cain:" This is what we've long been calling the Royals' Lorenzo Cain, and now we've got the jersey to prove it. For whatever reason, nicknames in the vein of "A-Rod" feel lazy, but this slight differentiation -- the use of not one but two letters of the first name and a one-syllable surname -- feels uncommonly cool.
Video: MLB Network highlights Manny Machado aka Mr. Miami
M is for the Misters: "Mr. Miami" (Orioles third baseman Manny Machado) and "Mr. 305" (Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso) both saluted their South Beach upbringing (Cubs outfielder Jon Jay rounded out that group with "305 J"), while the unshakably sunny Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor went with "Mr. Smile." A possible missed opportunity here goes to Twins reliever Tyler Rogers, who chose to wear only his last name and not "Mr. Rogers."
Video: Ambassadors are introduced for Players Weekend
N is for "Ninja:" Rockies utility man Alexi Amarista's former Padres teammate John Baker gave him this nickname, with the thought being that teams don't see this sneaky-good player coming. It's a sneaky-good nickname, too.
O is for "오승환:" That is the Korean spelling for Cardinals reliever Seung Hwan Oh's name. That he'll get to have his native language on his back is one of the many things that make this such a cool event, even if it did mean not using Oh's awesome nickname, "The Final Boss."
P is for "PTBNL:" This is A's catcher Josh Phegley's fantastic assessment of his standing in the trade in which Oakland sent Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox before the 2015 season. Thing is, Phegley wasn't actually a "Player to Be Named Later" in that deal, but he was similarly anonymous anyway. And there's something beautiful about A's fans, who of course have seen many stars shipped off during the years and have seen many unheralded assets emerge as prime pieces, having the ability to buy this particular jersey. (Alas, this "PTBNL" is on the DL.)
Q is for "Quarterrican:" Seth Lugo might still be working his way back from a right shoulder impingement this weekend. But the Louisiana-born Mets hurler with a little Puerto Rican blood can still make us laugh.
Video: MLB Tonight shows off their Players Weekend uniforms
R is for Rhys Hoskins: Sadly, the Phillies outfielder does not have a nickname on his back this weekend. You see, Hoskins wasn't added to the Phils' 40-man until well after the cut-off for nickname submissions. So the kid who hit eight homers in his first 15 games will have to settle for a ceremonial sobriquet. The @CespedesBBQ guys from Cut4 created a Twitter poll to find a proper nickname for Hoskins ("Rhys Lightning" appears to be the runaway winner), and Hoskins would love a special nickname dispensation.
S is for the "Silver Fox:" The name worn by the aged but ageless Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley, who lived up to the majestic moniker with that amazing grab in Rich Hill's would-be no no-no the other night.
T is for "Tokki 1" (the Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo) and Tokki 2 (the Reds' Joey Votto): When these two were teammates in 2013, they each grew to appreciate the other's impressive ability to get on base. Votto joked that he couldn't catch Choo, that he felt like the dogs at the track chasing that rabbit to no avail. Choo, a native of South Korea, informed Votto that the Korean word for rabbit is "tokki." Votto's numbers wound up surpassing Choo's by year's end, so Choo determined that they are both a "tokki." It's an affectionate appellation shared by two great hitters and friends.
U is for "Unicorn:" Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler became known as this phantom figure among his mates during Spring Training, when he spent much of camp pitching on the back fields as opposed to the more formal exhibitions.
Video: Ziegler discusses his nickname for Players Weekend
V is for "Volador:" OK, this is the name Twins pitcher Adalberto Mejia selected, but because he is currently on the DL (left arm strain), we don't have a clear explanation why Mejia selected a word that describes "flying fish." But even sans context, you have to admit it sounds cool.
W is for "Wawindaji:" The Swahili word Hunter Pence will wear on his back. The word translates to "hunters," which, yes, is plural, while Pence is singular. Although if you've ever watched Pence play, sometimes it feels like there's more than one of him out there.
X is for "X:" A short and sweet nickname Xander Bogaerts will wear. Did you know the Red Sox shortstop is the first player in Major League history to have a first name that starts with "X" that isn't "Xavier?" That's not especially interesting trivia, but it's trivia all the same. And Bogaerts deserves credit for not trying to get too cute ("X-Man") and just letting "X" mark the spot.
Y is for "Yo Yo:" He is otherwise known as highly touted White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada. Hopefully, he's done yo-yoing back and forth between the bigs and the Minors.
Z is for "Zen Master:" Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen probably didn't have to meditate too long and deep to come up with this one.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.