Schwar Machine?

The Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber is the sort of instantly identifiable and prodigiously talented phenom who just seems to demand a nickname. Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Morrissey recognized as much earlier this summer, when he called out for submissions from fans. Yet the dozens of suggestions he got from readers were, by my way of thinking, pedestrian, foremost among them: the Hulk, Smash, Schwar Machine (Morissey’s favorite), the Hoosier Hitman (which at least has a classic feel), and Bamm-Bamm, which is actually somewhat akin to what I’ve been calling the Cubs’ slugging catcher-outfielder for a while now.


He would need a chin beard . . .

Bamm-Bamm, of course, is the Rubbles’ precocious pebble pounder in The Flintstones. My name comes out of cartoons as well, if the lost TV cartoons of my youth. Vavoom is something of an Eskimo who befriends Felix the Cat in a series of cartoons made for television in the 50s and 60s.
Vavoom has a one-word vocabulary, “Vavoom,” but when he utters it he does so in a voice so loud it brings down avalanches and turns boulders into gravel, usually to the detriment of archvillains and to the betterment of common folk.

Why is that appropriate? Both are squat in appearance, as befits Schwarber in his catcher mode, and have a prominent chin, in Schwarber’s case accentuated by a beard.

Yet what they share most is the power of sound. When Schwarber connects with one, it has by all accounts a distinct sound all its own, one that crushes opposing pitchers and disheartens opposing players—as he did in the game that clinched the series against the Saint Louis Cardinals. The ball he launched landed atop the gargantuan right-field Budweiser sign, where it remains, encased for posterity like some cherished Sleeping Beauty of baseball clouts.

The best thing about the nickname Vavoom, however, is that it requires no knowledge of the cartoon whatsoever. It makes its own visceral sense.

“Vavoom!” Try it next t

Where has that ball gone?!!

ime Schwarber blasts one into the ether. Feels good, doesn’t it? Like really hitting one on the screws.

And if this suggestion identifies me as a child of the 60s, well,  there’s no shame in that. I’m a child of 1969 in Chicago as well, so there’s nothing I’d like more than for Joe Maddon to reach into his bag of tricks, like Felix, and draw on Schwarber’s unique abilities to vanquish the archvillain New York Mets in the National League Championship Series.

So repeat after me: Vavoom!