What's in a name?

Seldom does a Seattle series go by that I don't get several e-mails or personal entreaties to interview reliever J.J. Putz. And, of course, this is understandable because of the similar ridiculousness of our respective surnames.

Some of you probably remember that I did just that a couple of years ago for a column in The Sun. I approached J.J. in the Mariners clubhouse and introduced myself and expected some kind of reaction when he heard my last name, but he just stared at me as if I had just surfed back from Gilligan's Island.


No problem. I explained to him that because I was a semi-respected journalist with a very silly name and he was an up-and-coming baseball star with a silly name, we should be having a bonding moment of mutual understanding after mutual lifetimes of middle school taunts and rebuffed marriage proposals.

When he finally figured out what I was talking about, he politely informed me that no natural kinship existed between us because his last name is not pronounced the way it would seem by the spelling. It is pronounced with a longer "U" sound (Pootz) and he was never the object of junior high or any other kind of name-related ridicule.


I suppose I should be happy for him, but if I recall the column I wrote at the time, I just felt stupid that it never occurred to me to tell everyone my last name is Schmook.

* It's pretty obvious that a lot of Orioles fans would like to see baseball's roster expansion date moved up a month. The roster limit expands from 25 to 40 every Sept. 1, allowing teams to audition their top young players for a few weeks, but there's obviously nothing stopping the Orioles from bringing up anyone they want right now if they can make room on the 25-man roster.

So, it's fair to ask the question: Why not bring up hot young hitter Nolan Reimold from Bowie and take a look at him instead of squeezing the remaining games out of the contract of a veteran like Jay Payton? Isn't this team supposed to be building toward 2010?

I can tell you the reasons the Orioles probably won't do it.

1. They still have a chance to get something for a couple of their veterans before the Aug. 31 deadline for traded players to be eligible for the postseason.

2. Payton, in particular, is still valuable because of his versatility in the outfield, especially with center fielder Adam Jones banged up. He also has a couple of million dollars left to be paid, and this is a team that still considers $2 million real money.

3. The service-time clock is not a big issue when you're talking about three weeks in September, but it becomes a bigger consideration if you're talking about 40 percent of a season that has no chance to end in October. If you doubt the importance of a little reserve time, consider how much the Tampa Bay Rays saved on the Evan Longoria contract by holding him back on Opening Day this year.

4. Jay is more valuable than you think. Just his scowl has won the Orioles a couple of games this year.


Youth and enthusiasm are wonderful things, but I'll take old age and treachery every time.

* Never thought I would see the day when Brett Favre would make Alex Rodriguez look like a down-to-earth guy ... until I saw the AP photo of Favre stepping off that private jet in his rumpled Nike T-shirt Sunday in Green Bay.

He's back, all right, but he isn't the same guy who left. He's a diva.

Favre didn't insist on a footman or demand a case of chilled Cristal, but I'm not fooled, and neither are you.

He might as well be singing opera.


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