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Murph: What’s in a nickname? For Christian Arroyo, it’s yet to be determined



Not looking to pick a fight with my good friends here at KNBR.com, but . . . we’re going to have to do something about already referring to Giants rookie Christian Arroyo as “The Kid.”

I get it. He is, almost literally, a kid. He’s 21, meaning that when the Giants won their first World Series, he was 14. Their second, he was 16. Their third, he was 18. He’s barely out of his teens.

But if Arroyo is going to be pretty much the lone bright spot in the Giants 2017 campaign — and after he saved the day in New York with his fist-pumping, helmet-flying, three-run double, he’s the leading candidate — then we’re going to have to work a little harder than to call him “The Kid.”

First and foremost, “The Kid” probably belongs, outright, to Ted Williams, who debuted with the Boston Red Sox in 1939 at age 20. The nickname gods loaned it out to Ken Griffey, Jr., and it seemed OK, because of Griffey’s boyish enthusiasm when he debuted at age 19 in Seattle in 1989.

Two is the limit in ball history for calling baseball players “The Kid.”

Yes, yes, our show was as guilty as any of calling Tim Lincecum “Timmy the Kid” quite often, but I’d plead for an asterisk on that one. That was more of an offshoot of “Billy the Kid” than it was a rip-off of The Splendid Splinter and Junior.

There’s also the matter of slapping a nickname on a player who has 16 games of big-league experience and is hitting .242. But Giants fans know that Arroyo is more than a .242 average. For one, his .419 slugging percentage is higher than Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Joe Panik and Eduardo Nunez. His nine RBIs put him ahead of Buster Posey. And most important, on a team rife with losses, he’s a rare flash of winning ball. His home run off Sergio Romo won the game vs. L.A. on April 26; his RBI single off Clayton Kershaw scored what proved to be the winning run on May 1; and his Citi Field Celebration ended a five-game losing streak on May 10.

So, what to call him?

I know, I know. A ton of you would argue that inventing a nickname is phony, and rings hollow. True, true. Very true. Then again, many of you have never tried to fill four hours of airtime Monday through Friday. Hey, now!

The best nicknames are organic, and maybe Arroyo has yet to have a moment, or utter a line, that will define his future sobriquet. Pablo Sandoval did not become the “Kung Fu Panda” until Barry Zito sized him up one day and made the comparison to the animated film character. Brandon Belt did not become the “Baby Giraffe” until Duane Kuiper watched him move around on those long legs of his.

Bruce Bochy has taken to calling Arroyo simply “Yo”, which is appealing on many levels, particularly to those of us who are fans of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, who took the word “yo” to an art form.

But nicknames can’t be just abbreviated names, as I was just saying to my friends Paulie Mac and P-Con, who also call me “Murph.” Hey now, again.

Baseball is, in general, short of great nicknames of late, with the possible exceptions of Ryan Braun’s ‘The Hebrew Hammer’, or Billy Butler’s ‘Country Breakfast’, or David Ortiz’s ‘Big Papi.’ And two of those — Butler and Ortiz — are currently out of baseball.

Is Arroyo’s future nickname “Mister Christian”, as Paulie Mac’s tribute song debuted today? Will “The Kid” win out and join Teddy Ballgame and Griffey? Will someone translate his name from Spanish and call him “The River”, or will Bruce Springsteen sue for royalties?

OK, friends at KNBR.com. Until further notice, I guess you can keep ramming ‘The Kid’ down our throats. But as soon as something better comes along, this Jock Blog will be the first to let you know.