Don’t Call Me Cargo
There is a current obsession among sports media to jam the first and surname of any player, particularly a Latino player, into a cutesy two-syllable mishmash. We could probably actually trace this malaise back to Jenny from the Block, aka Jennifer Lopez or, J-Lo. The Yankees have, of course, A-Rod; the Brewers have single-season saves record-holder K-Rod. Basketball has its own D-Wade. But it seems unfair to saddle one of baseball’s most elegant players, Carlos Gonzalez, with the ghastly nickname of “Cargo.”
(Luckily, no one tried to call the Angels first baseman Al-Pu. Mr. Pujols is a devout Christian but something tells me he would be pushed to the brink of violence on that one. )
Gonzalez is a Gold Glove outfielder. In a game this week against the Mets in which he did nothing at the plate, he made a sliding catch that may have saved a run in a tight ballgame. Good players contribute elsewhere when they are not hitting. Gonzalez has a strong arm, too, and 9 outfield assists this year, for those who are foolish enough to still run on him. He seems to have settled in left field but can play all three outfield positions with aplomb, and you get the feeling old Joe D. wouldn’t begrudge the man from Maracaibo wearing #5.
Then there’s that sweet left-handed swing. The Mets announcers gush over it. Keith Hernandez, not a bad lefty batsman in his day, goes out of his way to compliment Gonzalez in nearly each game the Mets face Colorado. Hernandez’s broadcast partner, former teammate, and All-Star pitcher Ron Darling called Gonzelez’ swing “the sweetest in baseball.” In his first full season, 2010, he led the senior circuit in batting average and hits; this season he leads thus far in home runs, runs, and total bases.
The Rockies, suddenly a Western Division challenger, have Gonzalez locked up until 2018. The kid from Venezuela’s sweltering coastline has made a home in the Mile High City.
So, does someone who plays the game with this much elegance and class deserve to be called “Cargo”? Cargo gets shoved into the holds of boats and planes. Cargo rate is the cheapest way to ship. Cargo is generally bulk goods. Carlos Gonzalez is none of those things. While his countryman Felix Hernandez gets the royal appellation of “the King,” can we not find a better moniker for Gonzalez?
Carlos Gonzalez was born in the sweltering coastal city of Maracaibo, birthplace of Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio, in 1985.
VZ Baseball is happy to welcome Caraqueño backstop Yorvit Torrealba back to the bigs, after spending part of 2012 in Double-A ball. At age 35, he’s now Gonzalez’ teammate in Denver. He played for the Rockies from 2006 to 2009, including the franchise’s first World Series appearance.
This photo appeared on the MLB website courtesy of Torrealba: