Nicknames Gone Wild

Even though I have been living in These United States for the bulk of my life, if there is game that has both English and Spanish commentary, I’ll choose Spanish every time. It’s not that I don’t like commentary in English. Quite the contrary: I love the guys we get on the EPL broadcasts, the Champions League, and it’s hard not to like Ray Hudson. But when it comes to the world cup, I have to have it in Spanish. It’s just natural to me. And for f#@k’s sake, Univision, you had better have the HD signal cooking by 2010.

One of the reasons I like to watch in Spanish, is that the announcers are very well versed in the players’ nicknames, regardless of what country’s colors they are wearing. Watching ManU on FSC, and one may never know that Carlos Tevez is el apache. And if you didn’t know that, can you figure out who the hell the apache is if you watch an Argentina game in Spanish. In fact, you can watch a sequence of passes and not know at all who has the ball a their feet when pato throws the ball to el pupi, a pass to el cucho, who does a nice one two with el payaso, finds la pulga down the touchline, a centering finds el kun who dummies it for el apache for an easy goal.

We have been broadcasting Texas Longhorn football games in Spanish here in Austin for the past 15 years. And the nickname tradition has leaked into our broadcasts. Some of the best ones – Colt el pistolas McCoy, Vince superman Young, and Deon Beasley is el chile piquin.

Ahhh, the nicknames. I love nicknames. Not every player has one, but once they stick…. Some of the nicknames are just plain ol’ cookie cutter plays on the Christian name: Jaime el jimmy Lozano, Patricio pato Araujo, Adolfo bofo Bautista, Marcelo chelito Delgado. Daniel Danny Boy Osorno, etc.

Others take the Christian name, but spin it into a description of someone’s stature: Ramoncito Morales, Felipao Scolari, Ronaldinho....

Some nicknames can tell you where someone is from: el Maza Rodriguez was born in Mazatlan. Jorge el brodi Campos hails from Acapulco. Brodi is Acapulco slang for beach bum, lovable scamp, etc. Some get a little complicated: El Kaiser de Michoacan – Rafa Marquez.

Animals are a good way to describe the way someone plays or is. El venado Medina – the deer. El Cabrito Arelleno – double meaning: the kid and cabrito is a regional dish in Monterrey. El zorro del desierto -- Jared Borgetti, the desert fox. Andres Guardado is el zorro plateado (silver), as well as el principe, the prince. Leonel Messi is la pulga (the flea). Other diminutive types have been piojos (lice), and a lot of goalies have been gatos (for their reflexes, of course). Middle Earth even gets a nod with el Hobbit Bermudez.

Some nicknames have become multi-generational. Jose Luis Lopez is el parejita because his dad was el pareja. Daniel Ludueña is el achita (little axe). We also have 3 generations of peas in the Hernandez family. The latest chicharo is actually a chicharito: Chivas’ Javier Hernandez.

We do have some nicknames that describe the how someone actually performs on the field. Luis el matador Hernandez. Paco el gatillero Palencia, Carlos el bombardero Vela, Benjamin el maestro galindo, Landon el verdugo Donovan.

Some are just bizarre – Oscar el Kevin Rojas, Ricardo tuca Ferreti. Israel Jagger Martinez. We have a chore, and we have a more, a tepa, a chupa, a chato, cachas, chiquis, hugol, chamagol, batigol and a tilón. And many, many more.

Some of my all-time favorites –
Geronimo “la Patrulla” Barbadillo
Marco Antonio “el fantasma” Figueroa
Luis “Pirata” Fuente
Hugo “el niño de oro, hugol, pentapichichi” Sanchez
Javier “el pupi” Zanetti
Claudio “el emperador” Suarez

The names make the game more personal, more entertaining. Surely some of y'all have some favorites as well.