A hallmark of any close social group is the conveyance of nicknames upon all of its component members. In many instances, it is important that these nicknames not become too well known outside the specific group so as not to bore outsiders with lengthy explanations of the not-that-funny inside joke that makes up the etymological ground of a particular nickname.
On the surface, it would seem that Chase Utley violated gentlemanly etiquette by airing some of these nicknames in his full-page ad. Upon the slightest examination, however, they are all mostly boring and pretty standard. Just because they are standard doesn't mean they are exempt from the classic internet treatment of ranking them, however. Boring shit gets ranked all the time.
What follows, then, is an examination of the nicknames disclosed in Chase Utley's farewell letter by means of numeric rankings.
8. Pat "Pat" Burrell--While technically a nickname for Patrick, "Pat" hardly counts as a nickname in the popular understanding of the term. All groups have that guy who doesn't get a nickname either because that person is kind of boring and doesn't deserve a nickname or has a cool name to begin with, such as Warrington or Elias. Pat clearly does not fall under the latter category and from what we know of Pat the Bat, he likely does not fall under the former. My suspicion is Chase is holding back a doozy of a Pat Burrell nickname here. We can only judge based on the information we have.
7. Cole "Cole" Hamels--Cole is ranked above Pat because Cole is a cooler name than Pat. Cole is a cool enough name that I'm willing to concede that the lack of creativity in this nickname is a result of Cole being an intriguing enough name in its own right. Camels is not the character that Pat the Bat is, so I don't suspect any withholding of information here. Cole is just Cole.
6. Shane "Vic" Victorino--While slightly better than calling Patrick "Pat" or Colbert "Cole," Vic suffers from a similar creative flaw, namely, that it is not particularly creative. The letters V-I-C, you may notice, comprise the first syllable of SHANF's surname. What it has over "Pat" is that Victorino likely did not introduce himself to Utley by saying "Hi! I'm Vic" whereas Pat Burrell most likely said "Hi! I'm Pat" to Chase early on in their relationship.
5. Aaron "Row" Rowand--This is the same situation as "Vic," but it is ranked higher because it took me a beat to connect the nickname to Aaron Rowand.
4. Jimmy "Jroll" Rollins--Here we have our first nickname that is not merely an abbreviated version of a first or last name of a player. Instead, "Jroll" is a combination of abbreviations. This is better than a single abbreviation because the process of combining things requires some creativity and ingenuity, or, at least that's what I tell myself as I combine words within this internet weblog. This might rank higher if it were not in the Phillies fan vernacular.
3. Jayson "j-dub" Werth--Other than Row, this was the only nickname on the list I had to pause to think about. Like Row, the referent came to me relatively easily. J-dub is abbreviation taken to its radical extreme. Here we have the first letter of the man's first name and the first sound you make when you try to say the first letter of his surname. Jay Double You would not do. J-dub is born. You can almost say it as quickly as he drives.
2. Ryan "Howy" Howard--We've now reached a new tool in the nickname generator: Take a name and add an "ee" sound to the end of it. We've been doing it with pets and infants throughout history. Howy, of course, is no pet or infant as one of the most prolific home run hitters in Phillies franchise history. Howy has a nice ring to it though and creates a bit of a disconnect between the man you assume would be called Howy and the man that is Howy.
1. Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz--I tried to talk myself out of putting Chooch as number one. I really wanted to privilege names that had not seeped into the fan consciousness. I wanted Howy or J-Dub to rank #1. I wanted it so bad. But I kept thinking back to the etymology of Chooch. How Antonio Alfonseca called him "Chucha," which is apparently slang for underarm odor, but the beats misheard it as Chooch. Ruiz's smelly pits are the Dwight Howard flatulence of the Phillies locker room and I love it.
Those are the rankings. Share your own thoughts in the poll or in the comments below. Disagreement with the above is strongly discouraged.