Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants

The Nationals are looking pretty scary right now

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I’m loathe to ever say a team “made a statement.” There are a lot of damn baseball games, see, so no “statement” can last much more than 24 hours. For example, if the Giants come back and kick the poop out of the Nats tonight and tomorrow afternoon, that statement would be something like “pardon me, I seem to have stepped on your toe, oh, don’t get up … OW!! Stop Kicking me!”

That said, the Nats sort of made a statement last night.

In a possible playoff preview, Washington destroyed San Francisco, 14-2, batting the NL’s ERA leader Ryan Vogelsong for eight runs on nine hits in two and a two-thirds. The Nats led 14-0 after five. Their 21 hits were the most ever for an opponent at AT&T Park.

Overall, the Nats’ dominance is becoming clear. The win was their 11th in 13 games. On this current road trip they are 7-1. They have baseball’s best record, its second largest division lead and its best run differential. Since the All-Star break they have also scored more runs than anyone.

They look pretty good, on the whole, against NL contenders as well.  On the season they are 8-4 against the Braves, their closest division rival. They are 5-2 against Cincinnati. They’ve beaten the Giants, soundly, in all four games they’ve played. They’ve taken four of six from the Dbacks. The Dodgers have handled them, however and they’ve lost three of five to the Pirates. They’ve yet to play the Cardinals.

Obviously the playoffs are a different beast — and I still think the decision to go voluntarily bench Stephen Strasburg in October will haunt them — but at the moment everything is coming up Nationals.

Report: Extension talks between Mets, Neil Walker are “probably dead”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.

The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.

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.