Monday, April 2, 2018

2018 Name of the Year: Bulltron Regional, Round One

If you play Football Manager or Dream League Soccer, you know that the pleasure of stacking a virtual team with Messi, Ronaldo, Aguero, and De Gea, only to run roughshod over Arsenal and Dortmund, quickly wears thin. You need to mix things up, to seek new life for the old ceremony by imposing artificial, formal constraints: teams of nothing but one-named, Lusophone footballers (Willian, Neymar, Artur, Pedro); teams built of only fullbacks and goalkeepers; teams consisting solely of Americans (the greatest challenge of all). As a child obsessed with the floppy-disk era classic Micro League Baseball and armed with a copy of Total Baseball that I could barely lift off my bookshelf—putting us in 1990, give or take—I constructed a roster featuring Orval Overall, Yam Yaryan, and other long-forgotten, alliterative old-timers, forgoing winning for the joys of a formalist project well-executed.

So it comes as little surprise that the lucky few at the helm of actual professional teams might also occasionally pursue less than optimal—if, for our purposes, more entertaining—methods of roster construction. Enter Abdallah Lemsagam, the chairman of Oldham Athletic Association Football Club (or Oldham Athletic, or the Latics, or just plain Oldham). Lemsagam, a Moroccan ex-sports agent, took over the third-tier English club earlier this year and, in one of his first moves, brought in the terrifically named Enock Kwateng on loan from French Ligue 1 side Nantes, thereby reuniting him with his running mate Queensy Menig, likewise formerly of Nantes and likewise onomastically blessed.

These two should fit right in at Oldham, which already has a roster, it would seem, constructed to score NOTY recognition rather than, you know, goals. Other current Latics include Belgian winger Gyamfi Kyeremah; blue-chip midfielder Ben Pringle; CuraƧaoan winger Gevaro Nepumuceno; and both halves of the 8-9 matchup in the 2018 Bulltron Regional: eight-seed Duckens Nazon, a French-born Haitian striker on loan from second-tier Wolverhampton, and nine-seed Zeus de la Paz, a reserve goalkeeper and compatriot of the aforementioned Nepumuceno.

Which Oldham new boy’s name will get your nod? On secondary and tertiary attributes, the edge has to go to Duckens (middle name: Moses; two goals in seven Oldham appearances), rather than Zeus (middle name: Chandi; yet to play since coming over on loan from the Cincinnati Dutch Lions, which is apparently a real thing, this January). A Wikipedia page that may very well have been written by Duckens himself declares him “Haiti’s hero in the 2015 Gold Cup,” on account of his scoring the country’s only two goals in the tournament’s group stage, earning Les Grenadiers a draw against Panama and a shock victory against Honduras—World Cup qualifiers both—and a place in the quarterfinals. (If the quality of a player’s name correlates with their performance in international play, thank goodness the USMNT has Gedion Zelalem, Desevio Payne, and Maki Tall in the developmental pipeline.)

But on names alone, Duckens’s nasal charm can’t hold a candle to Zeus’s combination of a fearsome, thunderbolt-wielding deity and the most peaceful, mellifluous surname imaginable. It’s the CuraƧao for what ails you, but will it be enough to get past top-seed Salami Blessing in the next round? And can the father of the god of war then make peace well enough with the voters to emerge from a Bulltron Regional loaded with traditional powerhouses like two-seed Jimbob Ghostkeeper and No. 3 Mosthigh Thankgod, not to mention strong mid-major-historical-figures like the long-forgotten four-seed Early Charlemagne, the too-on-point seven-seed Dr. Dimple Royalty, and my prophesied winner of the whole shebang, No. 5 Habakkuk Baldonado?

As you fill out your ballots, may de la Paz be with you (and also you with de la Paz). And remember to follow us on Twitter for updates.


#1 Salami Blessing, Nigerian engineering student, vs. #16 Bernard Bumpus, ceramics historian

#8 Duckens Nazon vs. #9 Zeus de la Paz

#5 Habakkuk Baldonado, Pitt Panthers defensive end from Italy, vs. #12 Armagedon Draughn, cornerback signed last year by the New York Jets

#4 Early Charlemagne, web developer, vs. #13 Miracle Crimes, arrested for allegedly kicking an officer in the groin

#6 Tuna Altuna, Turkish tennis player, vs. #11 Phlandrous Fleming Jr., basketball player for Charleston Southern University

#3 Mosthigh Thankgod, Pennsylvanian soccer player, vs. #14 Fabulous Flournoy, called the “most celebrated figure in the history of the British Basketball League” by the New York Times

#7 Dr. Dimple Royalty, Indiana anesthesiologist, vs. #10 Jamez Brickhouse, cornerback at Old Dominion University

#2 Jimbob Ghostkeeper, Canadian hockey player, vs. #15 Travis Couture-Lovelady, former Kansas state representative who later took a position at the NRA
Dan Wachtell is a lawyer and soccer enthusiast in New York. He has written in the past about the world of competitive tournament Scrabble for Slate and about the intricacies of federal criminal law for much smaller audiences.