Faith and Begorrah! Now we’ve got a player whose name has to be altered in the headlines. Recently, on these “pages,” I suggested an MLB All-Horrible Names Team, including such luminaries as Tony Suck and Johnny Dickshot, but no sooner was the cyberink dry than the Phillies called up Antonio Bastardo.
Bastardo, a 23-year-old lefthander with a low-nineties fastball and a “plus-plus” change-up, made his big league debut the night before last in San Diego, pitched six very effective innings, gave up a run, and got the win. Nice start.
This morning the water cooler jokes must still be flying. In e-mails with relatives and friends, I suggested myself that the headline writers might, cautiously, have a field day with the young man’s name:
Bastardo: He Might be Legitimate
Padres Have Unholy Name for Bastardo Today
…and so forth.
My brother wrote back at one point: “You joke, but there is something illegitimate in his background, no doubt.” I speculated that there might have been some high-profile event generations ago in Bastardo’s native Dominican Republic…a Jerry Springer-like scandal, but who can tell? Bastardo scholarship is early days at this point (thebaseballcube.com, for example, has no information on the pitcher’s high school career, baseball or otherwise, and despite listing his two games at the triple-A level in their data, the legend next to the title of his page still reads “Highest Level: AA”).
A blogger named ‘Duk swooped in and took us all to “the high road.” In a post preceding Bastardo’s first major league game, he noted, citing Cata Vino:
“’Bastardo is a red grape used in Portuguese wines. Often blended into port wines[,] it is less robust than other grapes such as Touriga Nacional. In the Alentejo region of southern Portugal you can find varietal wines of Bastardo[,] and at the same time quite often you will see it in blends. It tends to be at [its]best when blend[ed]into richer dessert style wines.’
“Though some light Internet research shows that bastardo is usually considered an ‘inferior port wine grape,’ it would appear that Phillie fans can hope for a higher ceiling from Bastardo, who could really help Philly’s leaky rotation — or at least until Jake Peavy gets his act together.”
Hmm…do they make wines in the Dominican? I thought they made shortstops, and, like, mud pies (but politically correct mud pies, of course). Are Bastardo’s people from Portugal, and if so, why would they emigrate to the D.R.? With all due respect to (the no-doubt charming) citizens of that (surely great) land, it is difficult for me to suppress the memory of a cousin who served in the Peace Corps there and “acquired” a tapeworm that nearly killed her.
In the end, it doesn’t matter – we hope for the best for this newly minted major leaguer (he plays for our team, dammit!) – but we’re going to sit him on the All-Horrid Name team bench…right there between Razor Shines and Dick Pole.
“Antonio Bastardo.” The Baseball Cube, 3 June 2009.
‘Duk. “Fun stuff: Antonio Bastardo shares his name with a wine grape.” Big League Stew. 3 June, 2009.