U2 had a concert at Busch Stadium on July 17 and in preparation for the event the Cardinals had to strip the field and then afterward bring in new grass from Colorado, with the recent high temperatures making the re-sodding effort very difficult.
Before last night’s game groundskeeper Bill Findley told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the new grass “wasn’t healthy enough to put a pattern on it” and then during the game the visiting Astros fell numerous times on a surface Goold described as “bare and the dirt exposed to the drying and cracking heat.”
Here’s how Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle described the issues:
Hunter Pence fell coming in on a fly ball that turned into a triple, Michael Bourn just fell in center field, and Jose Altuve fell rounding first on a single. Also Jason Bourgeois had a ball elude him for an error.
Now, in fairness to U2 (which are words I never expected to type, ever) some of that can probably just be blamed on the Astros being a terrible team with an MLB-worst 33-69 record. After all, they fall down and make errors plenty no matter the locale. With that said, afterward several players and coaches talked about how little traction there was on the new grass.
Or as Hunter Pence put it: “I didn’t expect it to be tough until I fell down.”
Words to live by, really.
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.