Bill Conlin prefaces all of this by saying that it’s just what he’s hearing, not necessarily the God’s Honest Truth, but he tells a story in the Philadelphia Daily News today about why Chuck LaMar resigned as the Phillies’ assistant general manager. A story — with “quotes” that appear to be paraphrasing, not things actually said — suggesting that LaMar was dissatisfied with the resources the Phillies were committing to the draft and to player development and his belief that “the well was running dry” in terms of young talent in the system.
Again, that “well is running dry” quote is a Conlin paraphrase from what I can tell. Also in the paraphrase: LaMar’s belief that even the Pirates and Nationals are doing far more to develop young talent than Philly is. It seems, according to Conlin anyway, that LaMar thinks — dare I say it — the future is murky at best. He wants to spend more money on prospects and draft picks and the Phillies, it is implied, are telling him no.
To which I give a skeptical “hurm.” There are multiple sides to every story. This is one potential side. A side which, it should be noted, makes LaMar come off as the most responsible guy around who is only looking out for Philly’s future. Which, if you’re LaMar, is exactly how you’d want to come off in this situation. Indeed, if he had a P.R. agent, it’s exactly how the release could have been couched. Which isn’t to say it’s bull — perhaps there is a core of truth to it — it’s only to say “be very wary of taking any story which paints someone as a selfless hero at face value.”
The success cycle is a real thing. Teams who have been at the top of it for a while like the Phillies have been are naturally going to have a more fallow farm system than teams who are building. Trading prospects and drafting late in rounds — even missing out on early round picks because of free agent signings — is part of the deal. The Phillies are clearly experiencing that just as every other championship-caliber team has done before them.
Perhaps that made Chuck LaMar’s job harder. Perhaps it even lends some truth to what Conlin is writing in this column. But it seems more than a little overblown to me, and I suspect that the story is way more complicated than all of that. Because nothing is that freaking simple.
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.