Soria says goodbye to 'Mexicutioner' moniker

Sometimes nicknames just make sense: Wayne "The Great One" Gretzy, Walter "Sweetness" Payton. Sometimes they're funny, such as "He Hate Me" (Rod Smart) or "The Flying Tomato" (Shaun White). And sometimes they're as plain as the missing fingers on your hand (looking at you, Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown).

Rarely does an athlete get to pick his own nickname. Most of the time a relative or a teammate calls him something and it just sticks. Or, in the case of Royals closer Joakim Soria, a few blog posts inspire some t-shirts, which get a little publicity, and the rest is history.

Back in 2008 self-proclaimed "dermatologist by day, baseball writer by night" Rany Jazayerli (who later went on to co-found Baseball Prospectus) assigned the nickname "the Mexicutioner" to Soria, who was having a breakout season in Kansas City. Newspapers, television stations and Royals fans everywhere caught on, and the then 24-year-old from Monclova, Mexico, embraced his new title.

Now, entering his fifth season with the team, Soria asked, via his Twitter account, for the nickname to be retired. He wrote on Tuesday, "how about if we change my nickname to something positive? in support to mexico to stop all the violence !!!" When asked to elaborate on his request at camp, he said Wednesday, "It is sad when you see your country like that, and that nickname is a negative to the kids in Mexico. There's too much violence. It's really bad."

Last month, the Mexican government unveiled a new database listing a total of 34,612 people killed over the past four years in drug-related violence. Last year was the deadliest yet, with Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chavez blaming Mexico's criminal gangs and drug cartels for more than 15,000 murders in 2010 alone. After spending the offseason in his hometown, Soria decided it was a time for a chance.

"When people in Mexico watch TV to try to forget about all of the violence and then they see the nickname 'Mexicutioner,'" he said, "that's a bad thing."

So while ballplayers rarely get to choose their nicknames, in this case, no one can fault Soria for wanting to change his. The new one might not be as catchy, nor the accompanying t-shirts quite as popular, but the Royals closer should be commended for thinking and seeing beyond the game of baseball.

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