Today is the start of Players’ Weekend, a new MLB initiative designed to let players have a little bit of fun and express themselves in a league that so often tries to stifle those things. Players have picked nicknames to display on the back of their jersey—for one weekend, baseball will be graced by the likes of Daddy and Beef and Sweet Lettuce—and browsing the rosters is truly a delight.
Not everyone wanted to play along, which is somewhat of a bummer but perhaps not too surprising (there’s always that guy, right?), and so several players have decided to just display their last name as their “nickname.” But Brett Gardner has taken his unwillingness to participate a little bit further, by complaining about the initiative to ESPN.
“I’m more of an old-school guy, so I’m not a big fan of it,” said Gardner, who is currently the longest-tenured member of the Yankees, who maintain a famous aversion to dangerous distractions such as facial hair and personalities. The fact that he’s been a Yankee for his whole career means that he’s never had any name on his jersey, thanks to the organization’s tradition of valuing team over individual to the point of not recognizing individual names at all, and Gardner wasn’t happy about having to start now:
“I tried to go no name at all and keep it original,” Gardner said. “But they made me put something. I figured I never had my name on the back of my jersey before, so instead of putting a freakin’ nickname, I put my name on there. That [having no name] apparently is not allowed.”
Yep, Gardner will sure look great out there alongside his teammates Pickles and Kraken.