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The Panic Index: The Red Sox, Giants, Rays and Brewers

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Panic on the streets of Boston … St. Pete, Frisco and Milwaukee …

OK, fine, so the Smiths sang about panic better than I can, but the “oh noes!” quotient is pretty high among some fans this morning. Fans who, it seems, forgot that baseball is not football and three or four games don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but their pain is real even if it’s not entirely rational.

Or is it?  Based on random comments, emails and tweets, fans of four teams seem to be most concerned on this fine day. Let’s see if they’re taking to their fainting couches prematurely or if they really do have something to worry about. Let’s rate the panic on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning that you’re just mad about Saffron, and ten meaning that it’s time for fans to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside:

Red Sox: Yeah, it was an ugly weekend with the pitching staff serving up meatballs, but I really do think this is just a blip. The Sox are not the first team to leave The Ballpark with an ugly ERA and they won’t be the last. The Rangers are good. Everyone is healthy. The 1998 Yankees began the season 0-3 and they somehow found 114 wins lying around over the next six months, so there’s no reason to push the panic button in Beantown. Panic Index: 3

Giants: Yeah, the chalk outline of Aubrey Huff in right was funny, but with the way he’s flopped around out there I’m worried for his safety, be it from going into a wall Bump Bailey-style or be it from his pitching staff murdering him. The defense is a huge problem for San Francisco. Perhaps a bigger problem than we assumed this spring. Still, Cody Ross will be back soon, moving Huff to left, and you can’t really get down on a team with this kind of pitching. Panic Index: 5

Brewers: Eh, hard to say if it’s panic time yet. The Reds are good. Milwaukee should have won that Opening Day game. Zack Greinke will come back and restore order. But the defense, while not as spectacularly shaky as the Giants was this weekend, was bad, and Randy Wolf made everyone flash back to the Brewers’ pitching struggles in 2010.  Panic Index: 6

Rays: This is a problem. No, not the anemic showing against the Orioles as such — Chris Tillman and Zach Britton are going to make a lot of guys look bad over the next few years — but because of the injuries. Evan Longoria could be on the shelf for three weeks if you believe Joe Maddon, and Johnny Damon — a guy whose primary value at this point is his dependability — is hurting only two games into this thing.  For the Rays to have a hope at being relevant, everything needs to go their way. They need to get the breaks. Losing their best player and their starting left fielder is not something they need. Panic Index: 8

So there you have it.  Knowing these things won’t prevent you from panicking, of course, but at least you now know how rational your panic truly is. And knowing is half the battle.

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.