Chipper Jones has no illusions that the Braves are going to catch the Phillies in the NL East — he rules that possibility out — but he thinks the Braves stack up pretty well with them overall and is hoping the teams meet in the playoffs:
“The only team that can really put any pressure on them and beat them somewhat is us. And I hope we get them head-to-head in the postseason. If we get them head-to-head, we like our chances. We’ve beaten their big three. I’m not sure if any other team in baseball has beaten their big three. They’re a great ballclub, don’t get me wrong. But we’re not scared of them. It’s going to be a knock down, drag out [fight].”
I think playoff predictions are kind of silly. Every team — even the best teams — play three or four lackluster games in a row several times a season and every team — even flawed ones — play three or four awesome games in a row several times a year. If those things line up just right (or wrong) in a series in October we tend to read more into it than we should. Which is understandable because of the stakes involved and the significance of the victory after the fact. But it’s not like one can predict that kind of thing.
So, yeah, if the Braves meet the Phillies in the NLCS there is a chance they could beat them. If you put a gun to my head and make me pick a winner I say it’s the Phillies because I have a hard time seeing how anyone can beat Halladay, Lee and Hamels the requisite number of times to advance past them. But of course there is a chance anyone can beat anyone in a short series, so that’s not worth a ton.
And given the Braves’ postseason experiences over the course of his career, Chipper Jones knows that inferior teams can easily beat superior teams at any time because the playoffs are just crazy and unpredictable like that. Indeed, he knows that better than any active player in baseball. Which makes me think that — wait for it — he’s just trying to mess with Phillies fans, much the way he messed with Mets fans for years.
Imagine that. A Braves partisan baiting Phillies fans. That’s unpossible!
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.