By Eric Neel
Page 2

    "A good name is better than precious ointment." -- Ecclesiastics, VII, I


    "Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry, they are untranslatable." -- W.H. Auden

What he said.

As fans, we bind ourselves to the game, not just to who wins and loses, but to the particular guys doing the winning and losing, and to the quirks and bits of brilliance that make that winning and losing so unmistakably their own and no one else's.

We connect with players in a dozen different ways. We fix on the subtle hitch in their swings, we key on the rhythm and angles of their running styles, and we mimic the way they wear their stirrups and caps. We carry pictures of a hitter's stance and a pitcher's delivery in our mind's eye for years after they've left the game.

All about baseball
Check out the Page 2 All-Star team, and the All-Kruk team.
And we lock on names. Names that sound good rolling off the tongue. Names too funky to pronounce. Names coming through the radio speakers. Names echoing out over the PA. Names on jerseys, in box scores, and lodged in our memories.

Names count. We assign meaning to them. We figure a guy's destiny, for good and bad, is somehow tied to his handle. We believe there's mojo and magic in his name, we think it could be worth an extra couple of hits, or a little giddyup on a pitch.

Names matter.

And so it is that we present the nominees for the 2004 Page 2 All-Name team.

Thanks to all of you who've sent suggestions this past week. You've chosen wisely. It's a great bunch of names.

Now do us one more favor: Choose the best of the best at each position. Pick the one name that comes dripping with the most precious ointment. Select the one you think has the most untranslatable bit of poetry about it.

We thank you for your time and careful consideration.

Sixto Lezcano thanks you. Odibe McDowell thanks you.

And Bake McBride says, "right on."

Let's start behind the plate.

Yorvit TorrealbaAdam Melhuse

Einar DiazA.J. Pierzynski

Catcher: Not since Coco Crisp backed up Milton Bradley in Cleveland have two guys brought as much name to the same position on the same team as Yorvit and A.J. are doing now. You want to know why the Giants are in the thick of it? Sure, the layman says it's all Barry, but we know better ...

Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2. His "On Baseball" column appears weekly.