What's in a name?
For Kansas City pitcher Joakim Soria – or The Mexicutioner – his nickname became part of his identity as a cool-as-ice closer.
It seems, however, that Soria wants a name change.
"how about if we change my nickname to something positive?" Soria tweeted this week. "In support to Mexico to stop all the violence !!!"
The nickname that helped make Soria a household name among baseball fans, despite playing for a small market team that hasn't won big in years, has come to represent the bloodshed in his native country, he said.
“It is sad when you see your country like that,” Soria said, according to the Kansas City Star. “And that nickname is a negative to the kids in Mexico. There’s too much violence. It’s really bad.
“I know I can’t really do anything about it, but the mind-set needs to change," he added. "People follow me in Mexico.”
Since 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderón launched a crackdown on drug gangs and cartels there, tens of thousands of people have fallen victim to violence.
Soria, who saved 43 games last season, said the nickname, in strictly baseball terms, was harmless. But he couldn't ignore the message it might send to his fans in Mexico.
“I didn’t really care about the nickname,” Soria said, according to The Associated Press, “until I see all of that (violence) in Mexico. Calling me the Mexicutioner, that’s a bad thing. In a baseball way, it’s not that bad. Really, it’s a great thing. But I want to support my people.
“When people in Mexico watch TV to try to forget about all of the violence – and then they see the nickname `Mexicutioner’ – that’s a bad thing,” he added.
Soria adopted the nickname in 2008, and seemingly embraced it. His official Web site, www.joakimsoria48.com, still bore the nickname – the first four letters emblazoned with the colors of the Mexican flag – on Thursday morning.
Soria, apparently, is done with nicknames.
"I'm not the type of guy that thinks too much about it. I'm open-minded about anything. I don't really want to choose one," Soria said. "If it stays Joakim Soria, fine. I don't really care."
Fans, of course, are already chiming in with suggestions.
"His Mexellency" was one thought. "El Pacificador," or the "Peacemaker," was another. "El Fin" – as in The End of the game when he comes in – was another mentioned in the Star story.
You can reach Wil Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org.