Friday, August 10, 2007

Oh, You Mean That's The Same Guy ?



Rick Ankiel had a complete mental breakdown on the mound in what was the most important year in his baseball career (2000). After posting an 11-7 record, 3.50 ERA, 9.98 strikeouts per nine innings....all at the age of 20....Ankiel and the Cardinals cruised into the playoffs.

Enter the nervous breakdown......

He couldn't find the 94-97 MPH fastball, or the hard 12-to-6 curve ball that he made his money with. Everything was gone.....mentally. He completely collapsed in the 3rd inning in Game 1 of the NLDS game against the Braves....yet, the Cardinals still managed to win the series and move on to the NLCS against the New York Mets.

Enter the real case of the shanks.....

Ankiel didn't even make it out of the 1st inning of Game 2. He threw 20 total pitches that day....and 5 of them soared past the catcher to the back stop. Nobody could explain what had happened to this young stud pitcher that was supposed to be the face of the franchise. It was something out of a movie....much like Tin Cup.....Ankiel just got the shanks....and simply put, could not manage to throw that ball like he had his whole life.

So let's fast forward to 2007....where Rick Ankiel clubbed 32 homers for the AAA Memphis Redbirds. That's right....32 friggin' tall jacks for the 28 year-old OUTFIELDER that hits lefty, throws lefty, and looks as natural out there as they come. Last night, in his first Major League appearance since 2004....Ankiel BLAAAAAAASTED a 3-run home run on a 2-1 curve ball from Doug Brocail into the right field seats. St. Louis completely erupted. They gave him a 2 minute standing ovation, and an unbelievable curtain call. Tony Larussa fought back tears in the post game press conference...

"Short of winning the World Series, it's the happiest I've seen our club," La Russa said. "I'm fighting my butt off to keep it together."

It's nothing short of spectacular that Ankiel is back on the Major League diamond. I think it's an unbelievable story, and I'm going to watch Cardinals games just to root for this kid on a nightly basis. Most pitchers would have given up.....next to none would have worked their a$$es off to get back to the BIGS as a power hitting outfielder.

I'm speechless.

...To see Chieftain's May 29th analysis of Ankiel, see the below link...

http://thewincolumn.blogspot.com/2007/05/revisiting-rick-ankiel_9442.html


***Photos courtesy of YAHOO SPORTS

2 comments:

matt grime said...

rick ankiel is a jerk. i met him at a bar when i was in st louis for work last year. he was with a couple other major leaguers i didnt recognize and everyone was making a big deal over the fact that he was there. he is a minor league bum. i couldve cared less that i was in a bar with ankiel. my buddies started talking to him and he completely blew us off, acting as if he was a star or something. we ended up getting really drunk, though, and he took me back to my hotel room and entered me from behind repeatedly throughout the course of the nite. hes still an asshole because he never called me the next day.

Anonymous said...

jesus, that's fucked up.