Reason for the light schedule from me this morning: I spoke at a career day at a middle school. Check out that pic: that title is how the kids in that room knew I wasn’t Murray Chass.
Not gonna lie: it was kind of fun. I’ve long held that Jr. high school kids should be frozen in carbonite until they mature, but these kids — 7th and 8th graders mostly — were really good. And totally not impressed with people who write on the Internet for a living the way people over 30 are because the Internet has always been a thing for them, so where the hell else would you write? Indeed, the biggest jaw-drop I got the entire time: telling them that when I was in the 7th grade in the fall of 1985, we did not have the Internet. Heck, even the year 1985 seemed exotic to them.
Biggest laugh: telling them that I interviewed Tim Lincecum while he was wearing no pants. Indeed, 95% of the positive response I got from these kids involved naked ballplayers and the fact that I can do my job in my pajamas. I’m probably gonna get a call from the school board for all of that.
Nosiest questions: what do I make (I told them, but I’m not telling you) and whether I’ve ever been sued for anything I wrote (I told them “not yet”). One kid asked me “do you have to write things that are true?” I told them, yes, all of us in the media have to do that with the exception of Jon Heyman who has his own set of rules. I’ll probably get more calls from the school board for introducing the subject of Jon Heyman than I will for the pantsless Tim Lincecum stuff. Oh well.
Oh, and you guys came up too. There was an overhead projector hooked up to a laptop, so I pulled the blog up as I presented this morning. After quickly scrolling by the Brandon McCarthy “asshole” post — young eyes, you know — I pulled up the ATH thread to explain to them how I get feedback via comments. Note: Jr. high schoolers in central Ohio think you people have anger issues you need to work on. “Why do they care?” one kid asked. I don’t know son … I just don’t know …
Oh well, shaping young minds was fun. Almost as fun as ruining the presentation for the guy who followed me. He was a lawyer. Guessing my slagging on the legal profession for the first ten minutes of my thing made his pumping up the legal profession a little hard for him. But hey, all’s fair in love, war and Jr. High School career day.
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.