The art of the screen name

Red Sox message boards  
By MIKE MILIARD  |  June 14, 2006

I spend an unhealthy amount of time reading — and occasionally posting — on a Red Sox message board called Sons of Sam Horn. Its name, as you may have heard, is a double entendre. 1) It’s a tribute to Sam Horn, the enormous, gregarious mountain of a man, who, in a Red Sox career spanning three seasons (’87–’89) had just 273 at-bats, but compiled a .191 average and 16 home runs as a designated hitter. 2) It’s a pun on David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam” serial killer — who apparently was a decent ball player in his youth, even if he was, presumably, a Yankees fan.

A good screen name is crucial to a fulfilling message board membership. It’s your primary online identity — a moniker meant to sum up bona fide baseball fans in two or three words. Many of SoSH’s diehards don’t disappoint. Sure, some members take the simple route: Seth Mnookin, author of the forthcoming inside look at the Red Sox front office, Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top (Simon & Schuster) goes by “smnookin” when posting; and Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry logged on last November to answer fans’ questions using the fittingly button-down screen name “JohnWHenry.” But then there are the other guys, whose deep knowledge of the game is matched only by their lexical legerdemain.

There’s “ToeKneeArmAss,” whose anatomical summation of former Sox outfielder Tony Armas is the sort of thing you can’t believe hasn’t been thought of before. There’s “OilCanShotTupac” (a charge, we’re compelled to point out, that has not been proven in a court of law). “Kiss My Aase,” “ThreeIfBaerga,” “Plantier’s Wart,” and “CarboCopy” are all cheeky homages to almost-beloved journeymen. “Mr. Weebles” is an arcane reference to Bill Simmons’s old theory that a microscopic man lived in erstwhile skipper Jimy Williams’s mouth and is responsible for many of his head-scratching managerial decisions. And, put simply, “Doug Beerabelli” is pure genius.

But my SoSH screen name sucks. “Let it Flo” is a weak allusion to David Ortiz, whose resemblance to the late Esther Rolle — Florida Evans on the ’70s sitcom Good Times — is remarkable, if seldom remarked-upon. Aside from sounding a little hippie-ish, it just doesn’t do it for me. But it was chosen in haste and can’t be changed now. So I’ve dreamt up a short list of handles, all yours for the taking, so you can avoid the mistakes I made. I’d make one of ’em mine if I could.

“Stokely-Van Camp” It’s a pork-and-beans cannery in Lawrence, Kansas. It’s also where baseball brainiac Bill James worked as a night watchman while he wrote his first Baseball Abstract and formulated his earth-shattering theories about the game. He’s now employed by the Red Sox, of course, and his abstruse numbers-crunching played no small part in bringing us a World Series title.

“Eliot Lounge” It sounds like some dude’s name, but it’s actually a reference to Bill “Spaceman” Lee’s much-beloved watering hole, just down the road from Fenway on the corner of Comm and Mass Aves. It may not exist anymore, but it can live on in your screen name. Quoth the leftist lefty back in the day: “I believe in 27 ground-ball outs on 27 pitches, and let’s get down to the Eliot Lounge.”

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