Captain Underpants

So I guess I’m an “underwear guy”

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George Vecsey wrote for the New York Times for 43 years. He’s retiring now. Unlike some others of his generation, he pretty much kept his fastball until the end and even when I disagreed with him I thought he was a great writer who really understood the game and the context in which it existed.

He’d get cranky sometimes, but rarely if ever do I call him pulling the “back in my day” baloney some older columnists use to disparage younger players, and that is probably one of the harder things to do in that business, what with your memory and experience becoming more valuable as you progress in your career.

Sadly, however,  in an interview about his life and career over at The Morning Delivery blog, Vecsey decided to employ that approach to disparage new media:

Q. How optimistic are you for the future of the U.S. Newspaper Industry?

A: Not. Newspapers are the engines that drive the Web. Without editors planning assignments and copy editors fixing mistakes, reporters quickly deteriorate into Underwear Guys writing blogs from their den. The sad thing is that everybody knows it—even politicians and business people know they need some source of actual information, even if they get whacked once in a while. But the economics and timidity of the newspaper business are working against that future. And the bloggers brag about knowing how things work from the sanctity of their dens.

I’ll have Mr. Vecsey know that, while I happen to be writing from my den, I am not writing this in my underwear. I am wearing pajama pants, slippers and a San Francisco Seals shirt.  But hey, at least I’m not assumed to be in my mother’s basement anymore. Guess we Underwear Guys are moving up in the world.

More seriously, I defy Mr. Vecsey or anyone else who buys what he’s selling here to find any blogger worth a damn who thinks that real reporters doing real reporting are somehow obsolete.  Yes, the medium of actual printed newspapers may be dying, but the business of gathering and disseminating information is not. Even if it can be done from a den as opposed to a newsroom.

Oh well. Maybe someday “Underwear Guys” and similar smears will die out. Guess it won’t be today.

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.