Bernie Carbo cemented his legend, such as it is, in the 1975 World Series. The Red Sox were on the brink of losing Game 6 and the series to the Reds when Carbo hit a three-run
pinch hit home run to tie the score and to set up Carlton Fisk’s famous extra-innings shot. Thank God Carbo was prepared for his big moment:
“I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four beers, got to
the ballpark, took some [amphetamines], took a pain pill, drank a cup of
coffee, chewed some tobacco, had a cigarette, and got up to the plate
and hit . . . I played every game high. I was addicted to anything you
could possibly be addicted to. I played the out field sometimes where it
looked like the stars were falling from the sky.”
Never a full-time player, Carbo was a career .264/.387/.427 hitter, playing his whole career in an environment that favored pitching. One wonders how good he could have been if he hadn’t thrown it all away like he did.
Not that he didn’t have some help. He had a horrible childhood, was abused by a relative and had a father who was never there. Carbo says that as soon as he came up with the Reds, team trainers supplied him with amphetamines — calling them vitamins — and said that he more or less had to take them. He was soon hooked, and from there moved on to pain pills, sleeping pills cocaine and just about everything else you can imagine. We’re all ultimately the authors of our own destiny, but we have a lot of editors and uncredited contributors. Carbo had more than most.
Carbo has his life in order now — he’s been sober for 15 years — but his is a harrowing story of lost youth and lost promise. Great job by the Globe’s Stan Grossfeld. Definitely a must-read today.
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.
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.