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The first round of AL All-Star balloting results have been released

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Gallup has predicted that Jeff Francoeur will lead the balloting. Karl Rove says that these results are skewed. But this is what MLB has so far for the first round of All-Star balloting, with leaders by position, with vote totals:

  • First Base: Chris Davis, 1,176,016
  • Second Base: Robinson Cano 1,235,230
  • Third Base: Miguel Cabrera, 1,500,165
  • Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, 727,555
  • Outfield: Mike Trout, 1,190,676; Adam Jones, 1,181,875; Torii Hunter, 761,937
  • Catcher: Joe Mauer, 863,450
  • Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, 1,045,283

The only close races are at first base, where Prince Fielder is about 117,000 behind Davis, shortstop, where J.J. Hardy trails Andrus by around 10,000 and the third outfield spot where Nelson Cruz trails Hunter by less than 50,000 votes. Every other race sports at least a 150,000 vote spread. Many are much greater. The entire slate of vote totals can be seen here.

That is, until the hackers wake up and start stuffing the virtual ballot box. C’mon, hackers, get to it! I want to see Derek Jeter get voted in! He only has 380,000 votes so far! That’s not enough for someone with his Will to Win, even if he hasn’t played all year.

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.