As Bob Nightengale notes in the USA Today, there’s a chance for an unprecedented number of managerial changes this year.
Nightengale does his own rundown, but for fun, I’m going to say there will be eight changes: Blue Jays, White Sox, Mariners, Braves, Marlins, Mets, Brewers, and Diamondbacks (I don’t include the Dodgers, who will be moving Don Mattingly into the job, but if you want to count them, make it nine).
- The Jays and Braves are forgone conclusions, what with Bobby Cox and Cito Gaston retiring. I don’t think the Mariners, Marlins, Mets and Brewers declining to retain their current skippers are much more controversial choices. I suppose Kirk Gibson could stay on, but I just kind of doubt it. I think Kevin Towers will get the GM job in Arizona that he’ll want to go with his own man.
- Ozzie Guillen leaving Chicago is perhaps a bit of a longshot — he’s under contract — but I get the feeling that the Kenny Williams/Ozzie show has run its course, and Guillen will be allowed to leave for Florida, technically because he’ll be fired, but that it will really be a mutual agreement kind of thing.
- I think Tony La Russa will stay on with the Cardinals one more year. I’ve gone back and forth on this, but Pujols is guaranteed to be there in 2011 because of the team option, and I could see La Russa wanting to ride that horse for one more season, leaving just before the team gets over-leveraged on salary or (perish the thought) Pujols leaves in a P.R. nightmare.
- Finally, I didn’t include the Cubs on that list as I’m hearing more and more that ownership and — more importantly — the players really like Mike Quade, and I think the Cubs will make the controversial but ultimately wise move to keep him on.
So those are my predictions. How about yours?
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.