Now that Stephen Strasburg has signed with the Nationals, it's time to talk about something really important: what his nickname is going to be in the majors.
Nicknames have fallen by the wayside for the most part in baseball, with most of them being of the boring 'First Initial of Given Name-First Syllable of Family Name' variety. But every once is a while an exception is made, and it's usually made for pitchers who capture the public's imagination. The Rocket. The D-Train. You get the idea.
Strasburg has almost certainly qualified for that status even before he throws his first pitch as a pro, so there's no sense waiting for the Arizona Fall League season to kick off before we start looking for something catchier than his unwieldly four-syllable name to call him by.
For me, the first option to explore is some sort of train reference. The history of train nicknames for fireballing pitchers is a rich one: not just the recent tragic example of Dontrelle Willis, but also more illustrious hurlers like Nolan Ryan ("the Ryan Express") and Walter Johnson ("the Big Train") had locomotive-inspired nicknames. And, as Washington Post beat writer Chico Harlan points out, there are some parallels between Johnson and Strasburg. (Ha! Bet you didn't think the hype could get any more ridiculous, did you?) A train nickname definitely seems to be the best fit.
Given the Washington connection with Johnson, "Little Train" might seem the obvious, if slightly silly, way to go (considering that Strasburg is a good three inches taller than Johnson was.) "S-Train" is hopefully right out as too boring, although S-Train/Strasburg is about as close a phonetic match as D-Train/Dontrelle is. And if the city's NBA team hadn't PC-ified their franchise name a decade ago, "the Bullet Train" might have been an option.
Riffing on a Ryan-like nickname instead, "the Double-S Express" is catchy but probably too wordy for the modern media environment.
Frankly, nothing's jumping out at me yet. But the kid needs a nickname. Anyone have any bright ideas?