Josh Hamilton is trying to drop a nasty habit:
Josh Hamilton made a decision early Wednesday morning before he arrived at Tropicana Field. He is trying to quit using smokeless tobacco.
“Today is the first day,” Hamilton said before the Rangers’ series finale with the Rays. “The Holy Spirit … I kept waking up last night thinking about different things and what might be causing me to stumble in my relationship with the Lord. I felt like chewing tobacco was one. So I got up this morning and threw it all away. So when it is time to take a dip, I pray instead.”
Whatever works. Tobacco kills, so I don’t care if he sings the first two verses and of “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” and does a little jig each time he has a tobacco craving. Quitting that stuff is an absolute good.
And you think it shouldn’t be too tough for him given that the dude kicked coke, heroin and booze. But I’ve spoken to a couple of addicts before, each of whom said it was actually harder for them to stop smoking. Their explanation: drugs wreck your body so quickly and can bring you so close to death that — despite how addictive drugs can be — the crappy risk/reward ratio of doing them becomes clear way more quickly than smoking’s does. For the former, there is some fairly immediate “oh crap, I’m gonna die” moment. For the latter it’s a physical and psychological addiction paired with the mere intellectual realization that, yes, in some years this will kill them.
However that works in Hamilton’s head, good luck to him.
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.
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.