Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Stop the Insanit-"C"
2007-02-20 21:32
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Clearly this post comes too late, but I wish to speak out on a topic to which I'm deeply sensitive. My name is "Mark Donohue." As it happens, both my family name and my given name have very common alternate spellings. This has been a source of frustration to me since I was old enough to read. Flipping through my parents' mail, seeing things addressed to the "Donahues" drove me halfway up the wall. That's not our name! During my tenure at UC Berkeley's student newspaper I spend a wildly disproportionate amount of office time tracking down the copy editors and layout guys who would repeatedly (and entirely innocently) change my byline from "Donohue" to "Donahue" and raging at them impotently. There was no kind of malicious plot against mine and my family's good name; it was just one of those things. In most desktop publishing software it's much more efficient to retype very short bits of text like bylines and photo captions than it is to cut and paste them from the text files sent down from editorial. Subconsciously guys would read "Donohue" as "Donahue." It's an easy mistake to make and it's not helped along much by the fact that the most famous Donahue in this country spells his name with the "a." (This is a terrible reason to secretly root for the malicious, freedom-hating Catholic League and its figurehead William Donohue, but maybe I'm not such a nice person.)

And don't even get me started on Marcus or Marc-with-a-"c." Those are not my name. I'm a little obsessed with my own identity and I can get irrationally protective about it sometimes. Also, spelling and grammar errors really bother me. There's such an overall lack of professionalism and personal pride in so much modern journalism that it sometimes makes me reconsider law school. At least then I'd be gettin' paid.

Anyway, I direct you to Athlon Sports' Baseball 2007 preview magazine, where on page 76 "Jason Hirsch...projects to be a front-of-the-rotation starter" and on page 77 opposite "Jason Hirsh went 2-1, 3.58 in his final six outings for Houston." Jason, I feel your pain, buddy. We're not going to allow this to stand, at least as far as Bad Altitude is concerned.

Definitively: There is no "c" in Jason Hirsh's surname. There may well be a Jason Hirsch in the United States, probably several; but none of them are rotation candidates for the '07 Rockies. That guy is Jason Hirsh. No "c." Get it right or pay the price, professional baseball writers.

(If anyone wants to write a screenplay about a "Carnivàle"-styled final battle between a protagonist loosely based on me and a satanic Randall Flagg-esque Marc R.T. Donahue character, be my guest. I would totally go see that movie. I feel somehow that Marc R.T. would be a Reds fan, but I can't pin down precisely why exactly.)

2007-02-20 21:54:42
1.   Bob Timmermann
I feel your pain.

I keep thinking your last name was Donohoe because I went to school with someone with that name.

2007-02-20 22:08:35
2.   Greg Brock
Mmmm...That's good catharsis.
2007-02-20 22:41:54
3.   Ken Arneson
I have the "Can't spell my name right even if the text is right in front of their face" problem anytime I go to Sweden. My last name has one S. ONE! Look! Count 'em!

Either Matt Lindstrom is right about the Swedes when he said, "They're blockheaded", or the entire nation has been tortured by Cardassians.

"A-R-N-E-S-O-N. How many S's do you see?"

Jan-Lars Picardsson: "There. Are. Two. S's!"

2007-02-21 04:55:59
4.   Derek Smart
When I would go to birthday parties as a kid, the mother running the joint would invariably put out the little name placards that told you where to sit when it was time for everyone to stuff their faces with cake and ice cream. Each time I would sneek an anticipatory peek before we sat down, hoping against hope that this time the spelling of my name wouldn't imply that I spent my spare time drilling for oil. Every once in a while it wouldn't, but it still wouldn't be my name (if not 'Derrick' then 'Derik' or 'Derrik' or 'Derric' or 'Deric' - the first three letters were fine, they just couldn't finish the damn thing off).

Even the mothers whose kids I knew solely because my mother was one of their best friends failed to get it right. All this, despite the fact that the spelling of my name is easily the most popular iteration (I know because I'm moderatly obsessive and have looked here:

Anyway, on the problem of grammar and spelling (I share your distaste and frustration), perhaps the most entertaining discourse on the subject is the series of musical easter eggs at the end of this Strong Bad email ( If you haven't seen it, it's genius stuff.

2007-02-21 05:09:24
5.   Shaun P
I've invested so much time and energy in making sure people spell my first name as 'shaUn' not 'shaWn' or 'sean', I burned out on it long ago.

What always bugged me as a kid was, when you went somewhere that sold things with names on them, you could NEVER find a 'shaUn' - always the other two spellings though!

Incidentally, these kind of traumatic memories heavily influenced the names of my kids, neither of whom will ever know the pain of not being able to find a souvenir item with their name on it.

2007-02-21 07:17:36
6.   vockins
The first time I saw your blog, I thought, "Awesome! I thought this guy died in the Austrian Grand Prix, but I guess he's a Rockies fan now! I wonder if he'll field questions on the Porsche 917-30?"

I guarantee whoever is reading my user name right now (my last name) is pronouncing it wrong.

2007-02-21 07:30:50
7.   Mark T.R. Donohue
The Toaster's formatting system doesn't allow for middle initials, I guess, but the credit I use for all of my freelance work is Mark T.R. Donohue, to distinguish myself from the auto racer (and author). When the whole trend of "googling yourself" came around I was deeply conflicted about there being a fairly famous person with the same name as I. I also have performed in bands my whole life as Western Homes, since Mark T.R. Donohue just isn't a rock star name and having a pseudonym was like half the reason I wanted to start playing in bands in the first place.
2007-02-21 09:16:58
8.   TellMeTheScoreRickMonday
Why couldn't The Daily Californian find an intelligent copy editor?
2007-02-21 11:01:15
9.   Sebastian S
Mark, do you remember when your dorm wouldn't allow you to accept packages from the now-defunct Music Boulevard with incorrect middle initials? You seemed a little bit more flexible back then.

I've taken my frustations over the consistent misspelling of my last name* to its logical end: an overwhelming emphasis on hyper-correctness.

*People tend to do better with my first, but someone spelled my first name with an "x" in second grade.

2007-02-21 14:42:36
10.   Mark T.R. Donohue
9 Mail fraud schemes > Mark's sense of personal propriety
2007-02-21 14:43:03
11.   Mark T.R. Donohue
11 Sexbastian?
2007-02-21 15:04:25
12.   Sebastian S
I think it was something like Sabaxen.

I'm guessing that Sexbastian would have gone over my seven-year-old head.

2007-02-21 15:22:49
13.   Ken Arneson
7 The screen name field is just one text field, so there's no reason we can't change it to "Mark T.R. Donohue" if you want. Let me know.
2007-02-22 16:24:04
14.   Ravenscar
I'm not sure it's always the name's fault. People can't even spell "Timothy Beck" right half the time.

Oh no! I'm outed.

2007-02-23 00:25:40
15.   Chyll Will
How many times have you guys been held over by police officers who ran a check on your name and found that someone with your name was wanted for burglary in a town you never heard of?

3 I have the same problem, only they add the "s" to my first name. In some Caribbean cultures, it's common to name your child after the last name of your grandparent. You might see people with two last names or last name-first, first-name last. Happens to me quite often. Only problem is, I'm no parts Caribbean.

Then there's the idiot who adds an "s" to my last name. Then I get confused with the guy who did the voice for Francis the Talking Mule. "My, you look good for a man of what, 104 Mr. Wills!" Phooey...

2007-02-25 15:41:54
16.   StolenMonkey86
1 - My fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Donahoe. People would call her Mrs. Donahue sometimes, but the worst one was Mrs. Donna Hoe, or just Mrs. Hoe.

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