Maybe Sosa shouldn't be so calm

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After spending the last six months or so sitting around waiting for his phone to ring, Sammy Sosa is finally ready to call it quits.

He’ll walk away with quite a resume:
609 home runs (sixth all-time), three seasons with more than 60 home
runs, seven All-Star appearances, one MVP award. Clearly, Hall of Fame
numbers.

He’ll also carry with him, however, the stigma of steroid abuse.
None of it concrete or proven, mind you, but a large enough pile of
circumstantial evidence to raise plenty of suspicions.

In comments made Wednesday to ESPN, Sosa was already engaged in a
preemptive attack on anyone who would doubt his candidacy for
Cooperstown.

“Everything I achieved, I did it thanks to my perseverance, which is
why I never had any long, difficult moments [as a baseball player]. If
you have a bad day in baseball, and start thinking about it, you will
have ten more.

“I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don’t I have the numbers to be inducted?”

It’s an odd turn of phrase, and likely little more than bluster. Anyone
who would “calmly” wait out such an honor would not feel the need to
announce it to the world. Sammy Sosa is going on the offensive, while
sounding quite defensive about it.

In a thoughtful column for the Chicago Sun-Times, Chris De Luca takes Sosa to task. He has some questions for Sosa that he’d like answered.

Why, De Luca asks, didn’t Sosa meet with Sen. George Mitchell?

Why would Jose Canseco – who has been proven correct on a number of steroid issues – say that the physical changes in Sosa’s body clearly point to use of performance-enhancers?

Why, given the chance to confront the allegations, would Sosa take a pass?

While Sosa is calmly waiting for his induction to the Hall of Fame
— he can expect some anxious moments — he better either keep his
mouth shut on the subject of steroids or be willing to take the
allegations against him head-on.

So is Sosa a Hall of Famer? If it were solely up to the numbers, the question would be ridiculous. First ballot, no problem.

But as Mark McGwire has found out, it’s not going to be that easy. When
Sosa’s name comes up on the ballot in five years, voters will be faced
with these two questions:

1. Do you believe Sammy Sosa took performance-enhancing drugs?
2. Does it matter?

In the next five years, more information could come forth either
damning or absolving Sosa on the first question. It’s unlikely, but
possible.

So it will probably come down to the second question. Does it matter? Keep in mind, voters are asked to consider character.

Voting — Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

So far, based on the actions of Hall of Famer voters, it does indeed
matter. Unless Sosa comes up with a good explanation, he would be
advised to not sit and wait so calmly.

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrate. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.

 

Justin Turner talks “Easy D”

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up prior to game six of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:

No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!

Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:

It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:

I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.

And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.