Confession time. I played little league baseball in Parkersburg, West Virginia for a team sponsored by a business called “Doug’s Family Hairstyling.” All of the other teams were sponsored by sporting goods stores or hardware stores or at least something that sounded cool and manly. Not us! We were probably the worst team in the league and we had a pansy name. Oh, and we had all the fat kids on our team. And what did these talentless, pansy-named fat kids wear? Green and gold, that’s what. It was a nightmare on top of a nightmare on top of a nightmare. And have I mentioned that gold does not flatter my flesh tones?
The point is this: I may have hated the A’s traditional green and gold uniforms before 1985, but I know I hated them afterward, and I still hate them to this very day. I simply can’t abide the combination at all no matter who’s wearing it. My failure to develop a man crush on the Billy Beane A’s like so many of my sabermetric friends has a lot to do with the green and gold. And don’t even get me started on the white shoes, which baseball teams should never ever, ever wear, but the A’s still do for some reason.
With all of that out of the way, you can probably tell which direction this is going.
The Best: The blue elephants were kind of different, but ultimately I’ll go with the simple blue A on white, which they wore for nearly their entire existence in Philadelphia. A couple of red A’s thrown in, and yes, those elephants for a couple of years, but when Connie Mack was in charge they kept that blue A, and I like it.
The Worst: This 1973 look is pretty much exactly what Doug’s Family Hairstyling looked like. Except we didn’t have handlebar mustaches. And we had jellyroll guts and looked perpetually over-matched. Really, though. any look from the 60s through 1986 is fairly heinous. The more recent vintage Athletics teams have toned it down a whole lot, but I still see it. Like it was burned into my retinas, forever distorting my sight.
Assessment: I once thought that if I was ever a professional baseball player and I got traded to the A’s, that I’d simply retire than wear that getup. I know now that such a stance was a bit immature. With age and wisdom, I know better now. I’d simply demand a trade.
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.
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.