I love Community – the show, not the sense of it…Señor Chang is one of my favorite characters, but really so are Jeff, Troy, Abed and Chevy Chase. Incidentally, I am from Chevy Chase, MD — it’s a rocking little town.
But enough about a deliciously hilarious show – seriously watch the paintball episode! I cant think of a better nickname for a relief pitcher beside Señor Smoke — with all the Lincecum-pot jokes, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a movement to nickname him Señor Smoke instead of (Jevon Kearse, er) the Freak…
Did Lopez really live up to his nickname? Probably not so much– he averaged 6.28 K/9 for his career and only struck out over 100 batters in one season. Sure he was a reliever, but you’d hope for a higher K-rate, at least. What he did do: throw a ton of innings — topping 115 IPs in four separate seasons, almost entirely in relief (he started one game across those four seasons).
Unfortunately, we’ll never really know whether he deserved the nickname because he wouldn’t become a full time player until he was 29 — so there is definitely a possibility his career could have been much more than it was. But he did accomplish some neat feats: he finished seventh in Cy Young voting in 1979 and was an All-star in 1983 – the year before he helped the Detroit Tigers get to and win the World Series. In that same world championship season, Lopez pitched 137.2 innings in relief — good enough for 32nd most all time.
However, before all that, in 1980 he won 13 games in relief, good enough to tie for the 29th most in a season in baseball history. He shares the spot with some immortal relievers like Al Hrabosky, Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage.
Set aside the World Series and the records, Señor Smoke had a statue erected in his honor in his hometown of Tecamachalco, Puebla.
An eclectic nickname for an eclectic career!
For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.