The all-name All-Stars.

Author:Howell, Llewellyn D.
Position:Athletic Arena
 
FREE EXCERPT

I READ ALL the baseball box scores every day. While in Moscow recently, I kept up online. It is a hobby--and an addiction. Going through the boxes, it is clear that the names--not statistics--are what make for fascinating reading. Just in case you are unaware of the many great contributory names found daily in the sports section, here is an All-Star list of the best monickers at each position. I have tried to make sure it is balanced, giving it the international flavor that baseball deserves as an Olympic sport. I also have done my best to spread out the All-Name All-Stars across as many teams as possible, the same as is done in the regular Mid-Summer Classic--the 2005 National League vs. American League version to be held this month in Detroit.

Let's start the name parade with my personal favorite: Chicago Cubs shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. This is a name that has lots of syllables and just rolls off the tongue. The fact that he also is a great performer is incidental. Just say it aloud--No-mar Gar-ci-a-par-ra.

At second base is Mark Grudzielanek of the defending National League champion St. Louis Cardinals. Grudzielanek is one of several quality names that are nearly unpronounceable. This puts him high in my book. It takes several minutes to go over a box score containing his name, yet he balances the easy roll of Garciaparra.

Picking a third baseman was tough, but the nod goes to Wilson Betemit of the Atlanta Braves. I do not know the origin of the name Betemit, but it must have a story.

At first base, a name with rhythm, HeeSeop Choi from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Our thanks to South Korea for giving us this brief, but catchy, sound.

Next, in left field, from the Arizona Diamondbacks, is Quinton McCracken-quite a unique name. The Irish need to be represented and this certainly does it. (Yes, I realize he is an African-American.) McCracken also plays with the speed his name implies.

In center field, the choice is Mark Kotsay of the Oakland Athletics. In addition to owning a sharp name, he majored in political science while he starred as an outfielder and closer at Cal State-Fullerton. That's triple duty for this lineup.

There only has been one worthy name in fight field for the last few years and it is a great one. With Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners, name and quality coincide. Representative of a number of tremendous Japanese players who recently have transitioned to the U.S., Suzuki leads off the box score for Seattle and often is...

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