By Hap Rocketto
While sitting in the dentist’s office, awaiting a routine cleaning, I was surprised to find a magazine which was not yet old enough to be eligible for Medicaid. Amid the haystack like pile of typical medical office literature: National Geographic, Yankee Magazine, Golf Digest, Yachting, Fortune, and Gourmet-magazines which lead me to believe that that my dentist was doing pretty well on cleanings and fillings-was a recent Newsweek.
As a browsed though it I came upon an essay by Sharon Begley who I used to read when her column “The Science Journal” was in The Wall Street Journal. Begley writes on science issues and has the gift of translating complex scientific ideas and theories into readily readable prose for the hoi polloi.
The article in question discussed a recent finding by two professors of marketing, Leif Nelson of University of California, San Diego and Joseph Simmons of Yale, both of whom, coincidentally, earned doctorates from Princeton.
In this seminal work the authors declare that people like their names so much that they unconsciously opt for things that begin with their initials. Sort of like my sister Leslie opting to drive a Lexus, living in Lexington, and smoking Lucky Strikes. Note that two of the things might be considered positive while smoking Luckies is viewed a negative. This view points to the odd fact that people are even drawn to the undesirable as long as it begins with an initial from the person’s name.
Being a baseball fan this brings to mind one of the tragic heroes of my youth, Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Karl Spooner. Spooner came up to the majors in September of 1954 and retired in September of 1955, in a major league career that lasted just 360 days he started with two complete game shutouts and ended with him helping the Dodgers win a World Series victory against the Darth Vader of baseball, the New York Yankees.
Spooner, think S for strike outs, had K as his first initial-K being the baseball symbol for strikeout. In 116 innings on the Ebbets Filed mound he fanned 105 batters while striking out 16 out of the 35 times he stood in at the plate. It seems that Spooner’s Ks and Ss might bear out Nelson and Simmons premise. With a brilliant future ahead of him he suffered shoulder damage in early 1955 which terminated his career before it really began, and therein lies the tragedy.
Then there is Barry Bonds who is not exactly a fan favorite and can be compared to the Dark Lord of the Sith because he is the scourge of Jedi pitchers. Bonds is the all time major league home run leader with 755 career moonshots. While this may do a good deal to disprove the correlation exposed by Nelson and Simmons one only has to look a little further into Bonds’ statistics to see the opposite is quite true. It seems that Bonds has 2,558 walks to his credit, about 3.3 free passes to each home run. And what is the baseball symbol for walks? It is written as BB for base on balls. And what are Barry Bonds’ initials? BB, of course.
I am a man of science I am not sure that there is enough data to support the argument that the two professors make. They do not seem to have done even as extensive a work up as a good prone shooter does when testing ammunition. There appears to be a lack of scientific inquiry and the whole thing smacks of popular science or a cute idea gone bad. To make it worse the study is going to appear in a journal of psychology.
Taking into consideration that when I shoot position I have both suspenders and belt on my shooting trousers it must be clear to all that hedging a bet and preferring to err on the side of caution may well be a part of my make up. Now my initials are HR which could very well be interpreted to mean Hard holding Rifleman. In my mind that is not a strong as it might be in order to help me earn the final step I need for Prone Distinguished at Perry. Therefore, I am filing court papers to have my name legally changed to Xarles Xavier Xenophon X which translated from various and sundry languages as “Manly Brilliant Stranger’s Voice the Tenth.” This ought to bring me plenty of Xs when I shoot prone while gratifying my ego as a writer when it appears as a byline.