There is a single inherent truth about Twitter that everyone on there knows, children and adults and even the inexplicables who tweet things like "another solid pizza experience thank's so much,,,,," at Pizza Hut's official account. Before any and everything else, the existence of each and every tweet comes down to a binary tweet-or-don't-tweet decision. The entire existence of Twitter, an apocalyptically unprofitable social media site that literally drives people insane, is built upon a series of concurrent failures at that very decision point. That is, at the most basic level, all that Twitter is.
Anyway, here's something I tweeted late on Monday night:
Most George Lucas-Ass Names In Baseball
- Jett Bandy
- Yonder Alonso
- Jaff Decker
- Boone Logan Lifetime Achievement Award: Nook Logan
— David Roth (@david_j_roth)December 20, 2016
Some thoughts deserve or even require more than 140 characters to explain, and while this is absolutely not one of them I would like to explain what I mean by "George Lucas-ass name."
I meant nothing much at all with this tweet, mostly, beyond the fact that I thought of some baseball players whose names seemed overstated and goofy in the same ways that the names George Lucas has given to characters in his Star Wars universe are overstated and goofy. They are of course not nearly as overstated, or as goofy, as those characters' names are. There is no greater living master of overstatedness than George Lucas, who even in his unofficial retirement continues to set the standard for Just Spelling It Right The Fuck Out For You To See It, Right There. A George Lucas-ass name is a name that is both futuristic and goofy enough that George Lucas would have come up with it, were George Lucas still coming up with things.
This is not to say that Lucas didn't create something enduring and worthwhile with the Star Wars universe, because he absolutely did, although it's worth noting that even when he was inarguably getting it right, he was getting it right with characters named Greedo and Wedge Antilles running around. But at this pointLucas is such a dip that he is a threat to the world he made, and a deserving exile from his own universe; let him in and it's just going to be a bunch of people named Zapp Lazerbeem and Princess Verygood sitting in a room listlessly decrying the abrogation of various galactic trade treaties. Our popular culture is overripe everywhere with under-edited and incautiously canonized ex-geniuses, but for blithering smugness and abject doofery there is just no one like Big Luke.
But Lucas also did what he did, and because Star Wars is so widely loved—and because George Lucas is so widely mocked and loved and reviled and apologized-for, and because some of those people also care about baseball—the question of Who Has The Most George Lucas-Ass Name In Baseball wound up being much more robustly engaged than I could ever have anticipated.
Baseball is rich in extravagant, aspirational, beautifully and even musically American names; we have been over this, and more than once. It stands to reason that some of these would be some George Lucas-ass names, and as it turns out a goodly number of them are; someone named Skye Bolt was drafted in 2015, for instance, and someone named Logan Ice was picked in 2016. A George Lucas-ass name must sound like the name of a character in a mid-century adventure novel, and it must also have some broad space-age vibes and a general air of arch artificiality. Archi Cianfrocco is almost sufficiently baroque, and Wiki Gonzalez is almost futuristic enough, and Rocco Baldelli is almost post-ethnic enough. But JETT BANDY is the purest expression of the Lucas Name ideal, if only because it sounds like something George Lucas would come up with while extremely distracted, which is pretty much what we talk about when we talk about George Lucas at this point in his career.
What I learned, in the responses to my initial tweet, is that there are more George Lucas-ass names than I'd even imagined. They are holding down the long sides of our middle infield platoons.
They are on our Top 100 Prospects lists.
They are receiving non-roster invitations to spring training, probably.
They are calling for consecutive bunts.
They are signing contracts to pitch for teams in South Korea.
They are providing organizational depth.
They are, quite possibly, about to become big stars.
Or just perform ably for another half-depressing Braves team.
They are pinch-running in a four-hour, 19-minute September game.
They are literally named Tanyon Sturtze.
They are characters in the subsidiary stories we let into our lives, in other words. If they're a little abstracted or unconvincing in that way, or if it seems sometimes like the author of those stories is maybe laying it on a little thick, well, that is not false. But also these stories aren't ever going to be perfect. It doesn't make them any less valuable, or less necessary; every other objective and convincing thing would be hard to bear without having those stories and the characters in them running in parallel with us, for when we need them.
Also I can't believe I left Scooter Gennett off the original tweet. That's embarrassing.