Sidney Ponson is, once again, looking for work

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Yesterday the Royals designated Sidney Ponson for assignment after he went 1-7 with a 7.36 ERA in 58.2 innings.
What’s amazing about Ponson is that he’s pitched for seven different teams during the past seven seasons, including two stints with both the Orioles and Yankees, yet hasn’t had an ERA below 5.00 since way back in 2003, when he went 17-12 with a 3.75 ERA in 216 innings as a 26-year-old. Since then he’s 33-48 with a 5.82 ERA in 663 innings, including yearly ERAs of 5.30, 6.21, 6.25, 6.93, 5.04, and now 7.36.
Along with the horrible pitching he also comes along with plenty of baggage, yet every year he latches on with another team or two before they come to their senses and cut him loose. At this point there’s no possible reason for a major-league team to give Ponson a roster spot, let alone a place in the rotation, but then again that’s been true for years now and he keeps getting paid handsomely to basically throw batting practice for a few months while dozens of far more capable pitchers rot in the minors.
Seriously, throw a dart at a Triple-A roster and more likely than not you’ll hit someone who can out-pitch Ponson. Does he have a collection of photographs depicting every single big-league general manager in some sort of compromising position and just randomly pulls a picture out whenever he needs a new gig? Every year some major-league team that spends millions of dollars employing experts on evaluating baseball talent signs Ponson and lets him lose a bunch of games while posting a 6.00 ERA.
One of the oft-repeated criticisms when it comes to stats-based analysis is that scouts, managers, and “baseball men” have an eye for talent that simply goes beyond numbers. While certainly true in many instances, Ponson is a prime example of why that isn’t always a positive thing. Based strictly on stats Ponson should have been out of baseball four years and six teams ago, and for all the bad moves made by all the misguided teams his continued presence in the big leagues is the most mind-boggling to me.sidneyponson.jpg

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 disintegrating. 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.