Clutching to a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth inning on Friday night against the Phillies, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson brought in lefty Oliver Perez as the Phillies were leading off with two lefties of their own in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Perez retired Utley on a weak fly ball to shallow left-center. Before Howard could settle into the batter’s box, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg strode towards home plate umpire Mark Wegner to start a conversation. As Steve Berthiaume noted on the D-Backs’ TV broadcast, the conversation was about the slits in Perez’s undershirt, which may have been a distraction.
The umpires then grouped up and conferred. Wegner approached Perez on the mound and informed him that he would have to change or remove the undershirt before he could continue pitching. Annoyed, Perez stomped off of the field and yanked his button-up uniform over his head before heading into the dugout to meet the dress code.
Perez came back out and threw a warm-up pitch with the fire of a thousand angry gods, it appeared, before resuming play against Howard. If Sandberg’s concern was a tactical ploy, it worked, because Howard singled off of Perez, prompting Gibson to bring in the right-handed Brad Ziegler to face Marlon Byrd. Byrd singled to put runners on first and second, but Ziegler induced both Domonic Brown and Carlos Ruiz into grounding out to end the threat. The D-Backs would go on to win 5-4.
The whole incident involving Perez was fascinating. You can watch it below:
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.
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.