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Take Me Out to the Name Game

I am a longtime fan of baseball. If you are too, then you know that part of the fun of being a fan is following the “stats” of the players and seeing how many categories and subcategories can be created from baseball-related information. From RBI (runs batted in) to ERA (earned-run average), baseball wonks have a way of keeping track of everything pertaining to the game. But one thing I’ve been following lately seems to have been overlooked by lovers of all-things-baseball: the extremely weird first names of Hispanic ballplayers.

In recent years there's been an explosion of players who have oddball given names paired with their more traditional Hispanic surnames. And I'm not talking about pairing an ordinary Anglo first name with a Hispanic surname, as in Russ Ortiz, Jason Vargas, or Albert Pujols. (Don't get me started on the scatalogical implications of how Pujols is pronounced.) I'm talking about first names that seem to have come straight out of left field.

Take, for example, the strange first names of some of the Latin players on my hometown team, the San Diego Padres. We have Yonder Alonso, Everth Cabrera, Alexi Amarista, Yasmani Grandal, and Edinson Volquez (Edison would be weird enough, but Edinson?). And in the minor-league system there are Alberth Martinez and Yeison Ascencio.

And there seems to be a partiality for peculiar first names that begin with Y. After Yonder, Yasmani, and Yeison, we have Yadier Molina, Yorvit Torrealba, Yoenis Cespedes, Yoervis Medina, Yovanni Gallardo, Yasiel Puig, and Yunel Escobar. There are also at least four players whose first names end in -rys or -ys: Kendrys Morales, Jeurys Familia, Arodys Vizcaino, and Jhoulys Chacin. And then there's one ending in -y that's simply in a class by itself: Adeiny Hechavarria.

Rounding out my list are Hanley Ramirez, Wilin Rosario, Anibal Sanchez, Dioner Navarro, Gregor Blanco, Gio Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, Marwin Gonzalez, Ervin Santana, Edwin Encarnacion, Avisail Garcia, Kelvin Herrera, Marcell Ozuna, Wilkin Ramirez, Zoilo Almonte, Melky (which I think is short for Melquiades) Cabrera, and another Cabrera with a first name from outer space: Asdrubal. (As my wife, who is Mexican-American, said, "What drugs were his parents on when they named him?")

Finally, there's one that doesn't fit the criterion of an eccentric first name paired with a Hispanic surname, but it's worth mentioning because it has to win a Gold Glove for being the only oxymoronic name in baseball: Angel Pagan.
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