konerko waves goodbye

By giving White Sox the chance to match any offer is Paul Konerko limiting free agent interest?

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Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com reported yesterday that Paul Konerko’s “tight bond” with team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf “figures to afford the White Sox one last chance at matching any deal Konerko might have on the table from another team.”

While that’s a unique situation in baseball it’s somewhat similar to “restricted” free agency in the NBA and NFL where teams can match any “offer sheet” signed by a player. Padilla notes that it could upset the White Sox’s fan base if they’re given the opportunity to match any offer and still decide to let Konerko leave, but a bigger question is whether the situation could limit Konerko’s market as a free agent.

Will teams be as enthusiastic about pursuing and courting Konerko if they know any offer they make will simply be taken back to the White Sox? And if Chicago’s offer-matching ability does depress Konerko’s market in any way, then wouldn’t it make sense that the White Sox were behind the information getting to Padilla in the first place?

In other words, is it in the White Sox’s best interests to let the other 29 teams know that they have the final say on any offer to Konerko? Not quite a stay-off-my-turf pronouncement, certainly, but assuming the White Sox are truly interested in re-signing Konerko–and they’ve given every indication that’s true–then it’s clearly better for them the fewer teams are seriously pursuing the 35-year-old first baseman.

Konerko giving the White Sox the chance to match all offers is a very nice gesture from a player who has spent a dozen years in Chicago, but when it comes time to actually negotiate those offers I just wonder if he should be happy the good will towards Reinsdorf and company is now public knowledge.

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.