I’m struggling to think of an instance where a ballplayer called out his own team’s analysts for a good reason. Most of the time it’s whining about the fact that people in a role filled with so many in-the-bag homers are shockingly telling it like it is. We saw that when Cubs players got mad at Steve Stone a few years ago. I think we’re seeing it again with the Blue Jays where catcher J.P. Arencibia decided to call out Jays analysts Gregg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst the other morning.
He criticized Zaun for using performance enhancing drugs (Zaun was mentioned in the Mitchell Report) and went after Hayhurst for not having much major league experience. Which would be fine if either of those guys had made similar personal attacks on Arencibia, but as far as I can tell, based on what Richard Griffin wrote in this followup and what Jays fans have said on various message boards I’ve seen the past couple of days, Zaun and Hayhurst did nothing more than note that (a) the Jays are struggling; and (b) Arencibia himself is struggling in particularly mighty fashion.
Which, fine, maybe in today’s media landscape analysts who work for team-related media outlets are expected to be pushovers whose criticism of struggling players has no teeth. But there’s no law that says it has to be that way. And when you’re a player who is expected to be one of the team’s rising talents and you’re posting a .217/.245/.420 line while playing suspect defense, you don’t have a ton of room to talk.
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.