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Yuniesky Betancourt needs a nickname October 20, 2007

Posted by Brad in commentary, news.
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Yuniesky Betancourt’s a dang exciting baseball player. I think we can all agree on that. He’s exciting to watch on defense, but he’s also excitable in key situations, especially game winning hits by him or Jeff Clement. So why doesn’t he have a good nickname?

Part of the problem is that sports nicknames have declined in the past decade. Sure, there are great ones like Agent Zero, but when Dave Niehaus started calling Alex Rodriguez A-Rod, it marked a tipping point that led to K-Rod, T-Mac, and LaDanian Tomlinson retrofitting LT. The only Mariner with a decent nickname is King Felix Hernandez. The Mariners’ publicity machine wants fans to refer to players by their first name, but I think it’s more fun if they also have nicknames.

Yuni’s not completely nicknameless. Dave Cameron of USSMariner called him the Cuban Cannon that once (here), which is an alliterative nickname that deserve to be used more.
Lookout Landing came up with Yunibomber, and will even sell you a muscle T that says as much. Looking through the comment threads, Yunibomber appears to be the Yuni’s alter ego that gets clutch hits. I like it to the extent that it’s a nonsensical interjection, but I don’t think it’s kind to compare Yuniesky Betancourt to a recluse with a penchant for manifestos and letter bombs. Yuniesky doesn’t live in the woods, has no facial hair, and talks to his teammates. Oh, and he smiles.

Betancourt’s wikipedia page says his nickname in Cuba was Rikimbilly. I tried googling Rikimbilly and got nothing–apparently it’s actually “Riquimbili” or “Rikimbili,” which rikimbili.com defines as “motor powered two-wheeled vehicles that started their life as bicycles.” Click on that link for some nice photos and captions of rikimbilis.
Knowing what rikimbili means, I now think it’s an apt nickname. There’s video evidence of Yuni riding a bike (in tandem with Jose Lopez), and rikimbilis appear to be quick, useful, powerful despite their slight frame, and distinctly Cuban, all of which describe Betancourt.

Larry Stone in today’s Seattle Times has a new one for Yuni: The Secretary of Defense. (Stone’s article is a respones to Red Sox Nation, something the M’s don’t need to emulate) It’s from Jim Copacino, who makes the M’s TV ads (including Double Play Twins) and this sweet Yuni and Jose billboard. Secretary of Defense is the anti-Rikimbili–it’s austere and a little ironic (Yuniesky is nothing like Robert Gates or Donald Rumsfeld), yet emphasized his best skill, his fielding.

So, to recap, right now we have, from best to worst,

  • Rikimbili (however you want to spell it)
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Cuban Cannon
  • Yunibomber

I’ll do my best to have at least two more possibilities by the time pitchers, catchers, and Yuniesky report to spring training.

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Comments»

1. Steroids: « Yuniform - December 15, 2007

[…] (it pretty much just covers the Bay Area and New York), but it’s nice to know that this Rikimbili may not be supercharged with the […]

2. Andy W. Plaza - February 21, 2008

My name is Andy William Plaza,Im from Cuba,I know Yuniesky from many years ago,he is a good friend to my family,and I love him like my own dark brother!!!!

3. Andy W. Plaza - February 21, 2008

Ahhhhhh,I forget something,his true nickname was always Riquimbily!!!

4. Set your bobbles for August 8th « Yuniform - February 21, 2008

[…] will be a part of the Mariners’ TV commercials again this year. Will it surpass the glory of Double Play Twins? Hard to say.  It’ll be released next […]

5. Brad - February 21, 2008

Hi, thanks for reading.
Is there a reason why it should be spelled Riquimbily over any other spelling?

6. :o) - March 8, 2008

He used to like motorbikes when he lived in Cuba….

7. Mariner Fan and Cuba Traveler - March 19, 2008

I went to Cuba and a guy in a bar spelled it Rikimbili.

Every time I mentioned Yuniesky Betancourt, almost everyone would start yelling Rikimbili! Rikimbili! Apparently it was a very popular nickname for him and most people knew him by that name over Yuniesky or Betancourt.

8. Brad - March 20, 2008

Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m still a bit curious how he got the nickname… he couldn’t have been the only guy riding a motorbike, I’d guess.
I’d love to hear any of your other stories. How’d you start talking with a guy in a bar about Yuniesky?

9. Dave Niehaus spreads the gospel of Rikimbilli « Yuniform - May 17, 2008

[…] Previously: Yuniesky Betancourt needs a nickname. […]

10. Miguel - October 17, 2009

The term Riquimbili also means in Cuban´s vocabulary, a person that is enthusiastic, happy, very helpful, or a very nice person.

11. Anonymous - November 26, 2009

I hope you are having a beautiful thanksgiving. Surrended by your loved ones.
Your homeless family from,
CHICAGO


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