Rays sign former No. 1 pick, giant bust Matt Bush

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Tampa Bay has signed one of the biggest busts in draft history, inking former No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush to a minor-league contract.
When last we saw Bush in July he’d been sentenced to 120 days in residential rehab, 240 hours of community service, three years of probation, and $2,000 in fines after being charged with a DUI, resisting arrest, driving on a suspended license, and vandalism.
Just a month before that–on the day of the 2009 draft, no less–Bush pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor battery charges from what the San Diego Union-Tribune called a “drunken assault” on lacrosse players at his old high school. And then of course he’s been a mess on the field as well.
Bush was a disaster from Day 1, getting into a bar fight before even making his pro debut and then hitting .192 at rookie-ball. He moved up to Single-A in 2005 and hit .221, missed most of 2006 with a broken ankle, hit .204 at Single-A in 2007, and was then converted from shortstop to pitcher as the Padres tried to salvage some value from the blown pick. It didn’t work, as a torn elbow ligament led to Tommy John surgery and … well, now he’ll be in the Rays’ minor-league camp next month.
Assuming he doesn’t assault any teammates or fans while at spring training the Rays aren’t really risking anything by signing Bush and perhaps there’s a non-zero chance of him turning things around, but so far he’s proven to be a bust as a hitter, pitcher, and human being. Quite an accomplishment for a 24-year-old.

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.