The two Biogenesis suspensions with the most on-field impact are easily the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz and the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta. One leads his team in homers the other is his team’s starting shortstop. Both, assuming their suspensions start today, will be eligible to return for the playoffs if their teams make it there (Peralta could actually play the Tigers last three regular season games). The question is: will their teams allow them to return?
It’d be a less interesting question if Melky Cabrera didn’t happen last year. He was perhaps the Giants’ best hitter at the time of his suspension. Many believed — including some folks who happen to write for this august blog — that the Giants were sunk without him. Of course, all the Giants did was go out and win the friggin’ World Series with Melky watching from home.
The Rangers and Tigers are not so dumb that they’d likely see that as a cause/effect thing. In the aggregate you’re better off with good players on your team than without them on your team, so it’s not at all inconceivable that each of these miscreants is back in the dugout come October. But the factors which will go into the ultimate decision are likely numerous and varied and not all of them are based in terms of pure baseball analysis.
Whoever the Rangers put in right field — possibly Leonys Martin, who has been playing right while Cruz DH’s due to an injury — is likely to be a defensive improvement. The recently acquired Jose Iglesias is certain to be a defensive improvement over Peralta. The Tigers already have a lot of firepower in their lineup. While Cruz has been Texas’ biggest home run threat, the team has not been fantastic on offense overall. There are obviously team chemistry concerns at play, as many players on the roster are likely to either resent that their teammates cheated, resent that they didn’t appeal or both.
It’s complicated, in other words. And it’s doubtful that either the Rangers or Tigers will make up their minds until they’ve had several weeks to reassess their teams in light of the loss of their players.
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.