Rick Ankiel discusses his battle with mental issues

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Former pitcher/outfielder Rick Ankiel had perhaps the most watched battle with the yips, also known colloquially as “Steve Blass Disease,” the sudden inability to throw a baseball to its intended target. In Game 1 of the 2000 NLDS against the Braves, Ankiel uncorked five wild pitches in the third inning and was unable to complete the frame.

Ankiel wrote a book about his experiences, titled, The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed my Life. As Craig wrote about earlier this year, Ankiel said he drank vodka before that Game 1 start against the Braves. Ankiel said of his anxiety, “It didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

USA TODAY has a great feature on mental illness in sports by Scott Gleeson and Erik Brady. Ankiel is one of the athletes profiled. Speaking about athletes’ reluctance to seek help, Ankiel said, “There’s such a stigma, especially with men, that you can’t falter, and that you shouldn’t get help.”

Sadly, many fans find it hard to empathize with athletes who face these problems because of the notoriety and money they have. Ankiel said, “We’re getting paid millions, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune to inner pain and torture.”

The whole thing is worth a read, but if you just care about baseball, then Ankiel’s section should get five minutes of your time.

Gallegos agrees to $11M, 2-year contract with Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS – Reliever Giovanny Gallegos and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed Monday to an $11 million, two-year contract, a deal that includes a club option for 2025 and escalators that could make it worth $20.5 million over three seasons.

The 31-year-old right-hander is 3-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 14 saves in 20 chances this season. He has 72 strikeouts and 15 walks in 58 2/3 innings.

“I feel so happy,” Gallegos said Monday before the Cardinals played the Pirates in Pittsburgh. “I don’t have the word for exactly how I’m feeling.”

He was obtained from the Yankees in July 2018 along with left-hander Chasen Shreve in the trade that sent first baseman Luke Voit to New York. Gallegos is 14-15 with a 3.02 ERA and 34 saves in six major league seasons.

Gallegos gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $4.5 million next year and $5.5 million in 2024. St. Louis has a $6.5 million team option for 2025 with a $500,000 buyout.

His 2025 option price can increase by up to $3.5 million for games finished in 2024: $500,000 each for 20-25 and 26-30 and 31-35, and $1 million apiece for 36-40 and 41 or more.

He would get $250,000 for winning the Rivera/Hoffman reliever of the year award, $50,000 for All-Star selection and World Series MVP and $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP.

Gallegos has a $2.41 million salary this year.

He was eligible for salary arbitration and is potentially eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.