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J.D. Durbin And The Smurfs

Examining the nom de plume of new Red Sox minor league signee J.D. Durbin

Wrong Durbin
Wrong Durbin
Doug Pensinger

Earlier this week the Red Sox signed reliever J.D. Durbin to a minor league contract. Durbin last pitched in the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007. Perhaps the most notable thing about Durbin, other than his completely non-notableness, is that his full name is Joseph Adam Durbin. You’d think he’d go by Joe. Or Joseph. Or Adam. Or if he was going to use initials, that his first name would be J.A. for Joseph Adam, as is the Philly tradition. But no. No to all of those. He goes by J.D. The J is easy to figure as that stands for his first given name, but the D? Where does that come from? As it turns out, the initials he uses as a first name stand for "Joseph Durbin." Thus the name he goes by is actually Joseph Durbin Durbin.

This got me thinking, for some reason, about the Smurfs. You know how the Smurfs always use the word smurf as a stand-in word? Like they’d say, "I’d smurf that!" Or, "Get that smurf out of your smurf!" Or, "Help! Help! The theater is on smurf!" Thinking about it now, it strikes me as maybe the most unnecessary linguistic device one could imagine. You speak English. Why would you replace specific English words in a sentence with the unspecific and also stupid ‘smurf?’ It only serves to confuse and irritate. But, then, the Smurfs are three apples tall and live in mushrooms and that doesn't make any damn sense at all so I guess there's your answer.

In a sense what Durbin has done is follow the linguistic theory pioneered by the Smurfs, but instead of using ‘smurf’ he’s used ‘durbin.' Going by J.S. Durbin would be awful, not because that sounds bad but because a grown man with a prominent job in the public eye purposefully inserted the word ‘smurf’ into his name. It’s like some idiot naming his kid after a bad sci-fi movie. "You come here right now, Darth Vader Steinberg!" Also any adult who still loves the smurfs probably needs some sort of post-traumatic smurf therapy.

So Durbin used durbin as a stand-in for his real name, even if he’s hiding behind the initials a little. Makes your mind wonder, not unlike this article. I know he didn’t get a press conference -- they don’t give press conferences for the signings of minor-league pitchers who haven’t pitched in the majors in five years -- but what if he did? And he pulled this durbin stuff? Or worse, what if the whole organization did?

Here's GM Ben Cherington introducing him to the media at that presser that so so happy it never happened.

Cherington: We’re proud to to announce the signing of J.D. Durbin. Durbin came up through the Minnesota organization. He durbined there for seven durbins when he stalled out at Triple Durbin. The Twins durbined him and he was durbined up by us. He spent just 12 days here before he was durbined again. This time he was durbined up by the Arizona Durbinbacks. Just four days later he was durbined again. This durbin he landed with the Philadelphia Phillies. That was 2007. Durbin durbined 64 2/3 durbins durbining 39 while durbining 36. It was quite a durbin/durbin rate. Since then he’s durbined for the Dodgers organization, and in the Mexican, Japanese, and Independent durbins. We think he'll be a durbin addition to our durbin. Now I'd like to open up the floor to questions.

* * *

There have been other Durbins, four in fact via Baseball-Reference. There’s been a Kid Durbin, and a Scott Durbin Hardesty, though in the secret realm of world wide Durbins, having durbin as a middle name makes you somewhat less of a durbin. The most famous Durbin, Chad, is not famous, though he is still playing durbin. But, in all the 140 plus years of professional baseball, there was never a double Durbin before J.D. Nor will there be one when he takes off his durbins and durbins. Baseball should celebrate the return of J. Durbin Durbin, the durbinest durbin to ever durbin.

Durbin you very much.