OK, so this was apparently announced way back in July, but I didn’t notice it until Mike Bates pointed it out on Twitter this afternoon and … well, you’ll see.
Each year the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association gives out a “Heart and Hustle” award “to a player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit, and traditions of the game.”
As part of the voting process one player from each of the 30 teams is selected as a finalist “based on the passion, desire, and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.”
All of which makes this pretty amazing: Melky Cabrera is the Giants’ finalist for the “Heart and Hustle” award this year after missing the end of the regular season and being left off the postseason roster following his 50-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug.
As pictured below, Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda presented Cabrera with the team version of the “Heart and Hustle” award on August 1, two weeks before his suspension was announced:
And you can still vote for him on MLB.com and everything:
MLB.com balloting only counts for five percent of the total “Heart and Hustle” vote or else this whole thing could get really fun. With his $300,000 in playoff share money Cabrera could build a shrine to display his award.
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.