They teach them young in Philly

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Francoeur Barajas.jpgHighlight of the night as far as I’m concerned: A Philadelphia father helps his baby daughter throw the ball back onto the field after a Rod Barajas home run in the Mets-Phillies game.  As someone who is raising a taunting young girl himself, he’s a man after my own heart.

People like to rip Phillies fans for their attitude, but you gotta give them credit for their passion.

And speaking of passion and/or attitude, you all may think I try to needle opposing fans, but check out what the New York Daily News’ Kevin Deutsch did yesterday:

Risking life and limb, I marched into Citizens Bank Park wearing Mets regalia Friday and loudly chanted the three words that drive every Phillies fan insane: “LET’S GO METS.”

I repeated the time-honored refrain all over the ballpark and at some of the city’s best-known landmarks, drawing boos, threats, curses and taunts wherever I turned.

But with the Amazins’ building upon their NL East lead with an 9-1 blowout victory, Mets fans have bragging rights here for the first time in years. Our old rivalry once again has some juice to it. I wasn’t about to pass up the chance to do a little gloating.

I’m sure some people will have a problem with a reporter gettin’ into it like that, but I think it’s great fun.  Call out the media if they get the facts wrong or distort things in dishonest way. But stirring things up can be great fun sometimes. It’s sports. It ain’t national defense policy. Why not get some kicks out of it?

And oh yeah: the Mets Rod Barajas homered twice, Jonathon Niese shut down the Phillies’ lineup and New York beat Philadelphia 9-1 for the Mets’ eighth straight victory.

The NL East is gonna be a hoot this year.

Report: Extension talks between Mets, Neil Walker are “probably dead”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.

The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.

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.