What's in a name?

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A few years ago I made the rather bold and yet admittedly bewildering claim that former Kansas forward and now longtime NBA journeyman Raef LaFrentz was the greatest athlete ever named Raef. You would not expect anyone to care enough about this to disagree, but it turned out that Mark Zieman, the former editor and now publisher of the Kansas City Star, disagreed vehemently. He pointed to Rafer Johnson, the former decathlete. I explained that LaFrentz was RAEF while Johnson was RAFER -- that's like the difference between raze* and razor**. But you cannot win a fight with an editor soon to be publisher, and he went back into the archives and found some ancient story where some unnamed coach called called Johnson "Rafe." I weakly pointed out it was spelled differently.

*Defined as: To completely destroy something.

**Defined as: Overpriced shaving devices, especially the Mach III. Wow, they created more new and expensive blades for the Mach III. You hear politicians talk about standing up to the oil companies ... big deal. When is somebody going to stand up to the razor companies? You know, I was thinking that maybe when razor companies can afford to have commercials with Tiger Woods AND Roger Federer AND Derek Jeter AND Thierry Henry, then maybe they are pulling in a bit too much profit.

Anyway, when Jed Lowrie got the game-winning knock in Game 4 of the Boston-California series, I immediately decided he had become the most accomplished Jed in American history, surpassing Jed Clampett, who was the only other Jed I could think of. There have been some famous Jedediahs, beginning with Jedediah Strong Smith, whom Wikipedia calls a hunter, trapper, fur trader and explorer, in that order. The Jedediah I always think of is Jedediah Leland, the Joseph Cotton character in Citizen Kane -- probably because of the way Orson Welles would say "Jedediah." But anyway, Jedediah is not Jed, not the way I'm looking at it.

So, being that I only have 204,347 things to do, I decided to look into this Jed situation. There have only been two Jeds to ever play major league baseball, unless you want to go back to the 1890s and count the old Colts and Beaneaters catcher Malachi Jeddidah Kittridge, who was sometimes called Jedediah. Kittridge hit .219 in a staggeringly long 16-year career as a backup catcher, and he managed the 1904 Washington Senators for 17 games. The team went 1-16. It seems possible that Jedediah Kittridge was, in fact, the least successful baseball player ever.

Anyway, as mentioned, he wasn't really a Jed.

No, there have been two. One was Jed Hansen, who played for the Kansas City Royals briefly, in the late 1990s. Hansen was one of those players who got labeled early as a Quadruple-A guy, and so he spent more than 1,300 games in the minor leagues -- the vast majority of those in Class AAA -- waiting for someone, anyone, to give him an opportunity. Hansen spent his younger days as a scrappy middle infielder with some speed (he stole 44 bases one year) and he got to the big leagues, hit .309 and on-based .394 in 94 at-bats. But the Royals had Jose Offerman and (I guess) Mendy Lopez, and Hansen for some reason did not fit in. He got four big league at-bats the next year and did get up for a few games in 1999. And that was it. He never played another big league game. He went to Cincinnati, the Mets, the Padres, back to Kansas City, to Milwaukee, to St. Louis, back to Kansas City, back to the Mets, and to the Giants and never made it back. He tried to adjust and hit with some power -- he banged 27 homers in the minors one year. But nobody paid him any mind.

Maybe it was the name.

There have been two Jeds in NFL history, the more successful of those being Jed Weaver, a tight end from Oregon. Jed Lowrie is also from Oregon -- Jed Hansen is from Washington, Jed DeVries, a tackle briefly in Cleveland, is from Utah. The American Northwest is our leading producer of Jeds.

There has never been an NBA Jed or racing Jed as far as I can tell. For a moment I thought of a pretty famous driver named Jed Narett, but it turns out his name is actually Ned Jarett, which doesn't count.

There's a fine hockey player named Jed Ortmeyer -- from Omaha, Neb. -- who has come back from a pulmonary embolism to play in the NHL again. He is apparently known for his good work ethic (source: Wikipedia) but I also found a page, which is probably outdated, that discusses, at some length, if he has a girlfriend or not. Ah, the Internet.

There are a few other Jeds -- including a campus preacher who calls himself Brother Jed and travels around the country abusing people (his real name is George) -- but I would say that Jed Lowrie is now the leading Jed in the clubhouse. I suppose more people may know of Jed Clampett at this very moment in time, but really that show has been off the air now for 37 years, and it was such an astonishingly bad show* in the first place that I think the Jed title is Lowrie's for the taking.

*OK, so it's time for our first installment of "pixishows." You might recall that pixifoods are foods you found tasty as a child and found to be grotesque as an adult. So it goes with pixishows -- these are shows that, when you were young, you found to be intriguing, enlightening, fun, dramatic, whatever. And these are shows that, as an adult, are SO BAD you cannot even believe what you are watching.

I would nominate Happy Days as a legit pixishow. I honestly thought Happy Days was a good show back in the early days, when Ron Howard was Richie, before the Fonz got a library card, before Al replaced Arnold, before the producers tried to inflict Eric Moran on us as a sex symbol. But I have since seen some of those early shows and, um, they were pretty awful. PRETTY DARNED AWFUL. I had no idea.

And I think this is the key to the pixishow. They cannot be shows you realized were stupid as a kid but you liked anyway; Land of the Lost would not qualify, in my mind, as a pixishow because you knew, even then, it was pretty bad. No, the key here is to find shows that you legitimately liked because you thought they were really good, only to find as an adult that they were SO BAD you could not even fathom how they made it on the air. The Waltons would qualify too, I think. And I have a lot to say about the astonishing Hogan's Heroes.