Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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It continues to be the Yankees world. We’re all just livin’ in it.  Last week’s rankings are in parenthesis:

1. Yankees (1): I’m struggling to think of what could knock them out of the top spot. Joba Chamberlain could go on a tri-state killing spree, I guess, but if you listen to some Yankees fans you’d think he went and did it already.

2. Rays (2): The Rays making a big move with one of their many, many prospects to add a bat could possibly change things. They are emerging from their month-long funk now, and they are probably best equipped to gird their loins for the the playoffs. Well, Carl Crawford won’t be girding his loins, but everyone else will be.

3. Padres (3): Mat Latos recovered from his debilitating sneeze to beat the Pirates on Saturday. In fact all of the Padres got well in Pittsburgh. And they get them again in a couple of weeks. Between that and the divisional matchups against Arizona, there have been a lot of free passes for the Pads lately.

4. Rangers (5): Three of four from the Angels makes it seem pretty safe for Texas to start printing playoff tickets, no? Sure, the Angels got Dan Haren, but he can only pitch every fifth day. The Rangers are better than the Angels top-to-bottom seven days a week.

5. Braves (4): Everything has broken right for the Braves this year, but if they count on an outfield of Jason Heyward and a bunch of guys who have no business starting on a playoff team, the Braves won’t be a playoff team.

6. Giants (10): San Francisco is currently above the league average in runs scored a game. The last time they finished a season above average in runs scored was 2004.

7. Cardinals (8): Losing two of three to the Cubs is no good, but staring straight ahead at nine games against the Mets, Pirates and Astros has the Cardinals licking their chops.

8. White Sox (6): Ozzie Guillen is going to put Bobby Jenks back in as closer soon. He says he’s not being emotional about Jenks’ bad performances. He has a plan, saying “we’re not crazy what we’re doing here.” Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

 9. Reds (9): Scott Rolen is probably not going to start in Milwaukee tonight, making it ten games out since he hurt his hamstring. I’m not sure I can recall a guy missing ten games without going on the DL. Lucky for Cincinnati it hasn’t really come back to bite them. Miquel Cairo (!) has actually filled in quite nicely.

10. Twins (13): Some signs of life these past few days — although it’s hard not to show signs of life against Baltimore. The question is how long can they keep it up without Justin Morneau, who doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to returning from his concussion?

11. Phillies (15): Some signs of life these past few days against a better brand of team than the Twins faced. And dead ahead are games against the Diamondbacks and Nats.

12. Dodgers (16): Anson Williams — who played Potsy on “Happy Days” sang “God Bless America” at the Dodgers-Mets game yesterday. Weisman said he did a good job. Of course he did, because Potsy was never anything if not a total pro. But you’re in Los Angeles, California and that’s the best you can do for in-game talent? Potsy doesn’t even make the cut for dinner theater in the Midwest.

13. Red Sox (11): A split against the current incarnation of the Mariners is a pretty sad statement.

14. Tigers (12): Inge down, Ordonez gone. Eventually you just run out of warm bodies.

15. Rockies (7): The current east coast swing has been terrible, but at least they (a) get Troy Tulowitzki back tomorrow; and (b) get to face the Pirates.

16. Athletics (19): They just started filming the movie version of “Moneyball” in and around the Coliseum this week. I was going to complain about the fact that they have this guy playing this guy, but given that they’re currently making a movie about how Billy Beane is a genius, I’m assuming it’s a fantasy piece anyway.  Enough bashing, though: the A’s took two of three from the Chisox. They’re playing good ball right now.

17. Blue Jays (18): I was worried that I have only been talking about the Jays insofar as they have players other teams want, ignoring them for actual, you know, baseball purposes. But on Saturday I did a radio spot on 590 The Fan in Toronto, and the sense I got from them was that’s all Jays’ fans are really paying attention to as well.

18. Mets (14): Heard this: Omar Minaya is considering firing the person who books the Mets’ charter flights. Who else could be responsible for such a lousy road trip?
 
19. Marlins (20): The Feesh are back at .500.  If form holds, they’ll now go on a 3-7 skid and then win four or five games via walkoff hits and then slowly make their way back to .500 again.  These guys would give me an ulcer if I followed them on a daily basis.

20. Angels (17): Spanked by Texas and still in need of a bat. But hey, given that Arizona didn’t make them give up anything major to pick up Haren, perhaps they make a trade for another bat.

21. Brewers (22): 7-4 since the break. Does a respectable second half save Ken Macha? Well, at least until his contract expires and he’s sent packing in October anyway?

22. Cubs (21): Not sure how you lose two of three to Houston and then take two of three from St. Louis, but that’s what they did this past week.

23. Indians (25): You’d think the good play of late from the youngsters would actually cover up for other problems, but it actually just makes the problems — like what to do with Travis Hafner — stand out all the more.

24. Royals (24): I so want to believe that the Royals and Mets are going to do a trade where Jeff Francoeur, Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Guillen and Gil Meche all change teams, but I think it’s just a case of Rosenthal getting into the peppermint schnapps and having fun with all of us.

25. Nationals (23): The Nats should keep Adam Dunn around. He reminds me of Frank Howard and I really like Frank Howard.

26. Astros (26): Ed Wade is treating Roy Oswalt like I treated my 1963 Wally Moon card: valuable to me, but nowhere near as valuable to others for obvious reasons. I never managed to trade that bad boy either.

27. Mariners (27): Don Wakamatsu looks like he’s gonna get canned, don’t he? In hindsight this wasn’t as good a Mariners team as a lot of people thought it would be, but it shouldn’t have been this bad and they can’t go a week or two without some clubhouse problem. Maybe not Wakamatsu’s fault, but like they say, you can’t fire the players.

28. Diamondbacks (28): I’m thinking the Haren trade is only the beginning of the fire sale.

29. Pirates (30): The Pirates are on pace for their worst season since 1985. Back then they at least had the excuse of being coked to the eyes. What gives now?

30. Orioles (29): Getting Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts, Luke Scott and Mike Gonzalez back will be quite helpful in the push to top the 1988 Orioles. Dare to dream.

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.