C.J. Wilson Getty

UPDATE: Yankees invite C.J. Wilson to New York

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The competition for the top starting pitcher of this year’s free agent class is beginning to intensify.

After the Angels wined and dined C.J. Wilson’s agent Bob Garber last night in Milwaukee, Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger reports that the Yankees have invited the free-agent left-hander to New York to meet with “team decision-makers.”

The invitation was made when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with Garber this afternoon. While Garber also represents free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt, he said this particular meeting was mostly focused on Wilson.

“I told him where we were at, they understood, and want us to come out,” Garber said at the general managers’ meetings. “I think it’s a good fit. We have a lot of teams we have to narrow down. I think the Yankees are a team that we’ve narrowed down as a team we want to spend a little time with.”

“At this point, there’s still six or seven teams we’re in serious talks with,” Garber said, counting the Yankees among them. “(Cashman) knew (Wilson) was the Cliff Lee of this year and didn’t want to come out short. I just liked his aggressiveness.”

Garber told Carig that the meeting in New York, which will take place on an unspecified date, will be attended by Cashman, Yankees director of pro personnel Billy Eppler and Hal Steinbrenner.

While Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times wrote yesterday that Wilson is likely to command a six-year deal in the $100 million range, Carig has him around five years and $90 million. It’s still very early, but having the Yankees involved in the conversation will surely up the ante for all interested teams.

UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Wilson and his agent have requested a visit to the Yankees before next month’s winter meetings. The Bombers are said to be considering the request.

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.