New York Mets Photo Day

Former Cy Young winner takes powerful drug to aid his performance, no one cares

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What if I were to tell you that there was a former Cy Young winner who was taking a controversial and powerful drug?

A drug that could prove dangerous to him in the long run and has been linked to organ damage? A drug that other players who have used it say gives them a feeling of invulnerability? A drug that experts are wary of for athletes because its long term effects when taken regularly aren’t known? A drug that is injected into the buttocks. A drug that, despite all of this, the player uses because it helps him recover from injury, soreness and fatigue and helps him get back on the field?

Why, I hope you would say nothing, because as David Lennon of Newsday reports, it’s totally OK in Major League Baseball:

When Johan Santana said last week that he received an injection of Toradol, a powerful anti-inflammatory medication, to stay on schedule for his Opening Day start, it hardly raised eyebrows in the clubhouse.

The reason? Santana is not the only one to benefit from the drug, and its use is more common than people might think.

There is not some logical bright line between what is a horrible, terrible PED and what is an acceptable drug in the world of sports. We like to pretend there is, but really, there isn’t. The biggest difference is that some are on a banned list and some are not, and that Santana and others use Toradol under a physicians care and guys who take banned drugs don’t.

Ultimately, these drugs are allowing players to do what their body would not naturally allow them to do. Here, it’s ignoring pain that could keep them from playing or certainly playing well.  With other drugs, it’s recovering from injury faster (HGH) or hitting a ball farther than they otherwise might (steroids). Either way, their performance is enhanced. Their natural state is altered by pharmaceuticals.

It would be awesome if we could approach some of the banned PEDs in this way and determine whether they present acceptable risks. Whether they serve a valuable purpose that, under a doctor’s care, don’t raise serious ethical concerns.  But we just don’t roll that way in professional sports these days.

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.