Head and Shoulders above the rest
Yes, Rock Shoulders is 2012's MiLB.com Moniker Madness champion and, as such, he can now lay claim to having the greatest name in all of Minor League Baseball. Though the "boulder" prognosticators among us were predicting Rock's victory from the very beginning of the tournament, it became official as the clock struck midnight Tuesday morning. Shoulders, a 20-year-old first baseman for the Boise Hawks, handily triumphed over aromatic adversary (and Hickory Crawdads shortstop) Rougned Odor in the final round. The Chicago Cubs prospect netted a decisive 60 percent of the vote against Odor's 40 percent -- winning by much more than a nose.
Born with the first name of Roderick, Shoulders' memorable nickname of Rock was bestowed upon him during childhood. As he explains it, the mother of one of his friends "couldn't say the name right; she dropped a few letters and it turned into Rock." And the rest, as they say, is history. Shoulders' name has long been a source of amusement, with fans asking him to sign their shoulders, serenading him with "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and challenging him to games of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Shoulders enjoys this sort of creative interplay, and when reached on Tuesday morning he expressed no small amount of pride in his Moniker Madness victory.
"I stayed up last night to see [if the Finals vote total] had been posted, and I went to sleep not knowing," said Shoulders, the Cubs' 25th-round pick in the 2011 Draft. "I'm headed to a workout right now, and all of the guys are saying 'congratulations' and stuff. After the workout I'll put it out on Twitter, and I'll have to call my parents. My mom will be real happy and my dad, he'll get a kick out of it."
Shoulders also remarks that a planned clubhouse celebration (with Coca-Cola serving as a substitute for champagne) will "definitely happen" and that he hopes his victory in the contest might spur the Hawks to create a Rock Shoulders "Best Name in Baseball" bobblehead. It would be a well-deserved (not to mention highly collectible) item, as in the pantheon of great Minor League names Shoulders now joins past Moniker Madness champions Houston Summers, Will Startup, Dusty Napoleon, Rowdy Hardy and Seth Schwindenhammer.
But for Shoulders, the real issue at hand is to finish strong over the last three weeks of the season.
"I just need to play hard and help the team win," he said.
And after that? Well, Shoulders couldn't resist uttering what is perhaps the No. 1 triumphant athlete cliché.
"I'm going to Disneyland!"
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog.