Some People's Kids: How to Save a Life... and Then Kill a Career

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How to Save a Life... and Then Kill a Career

Okay, that may be a bit over the top. Okay, so its a lot over the top.

Its almost never heard of. Babe Ruth was the only one who did it sucessfully. Go from Pitcher to Position Player. The story itself is just plain amazing. Major League Baseball's best pitching prospect. The world at his finger tips. Then suddenly, to the bewilderment of everyone, he loses it. And not only does he lose it, but he loses it in the playoffs, on national television, when his Cardinal teammates are counting on him the most. In one brutal series of events, he goes from King to Goat, including a major league record for wild pitches in one inning with 5. And these pitches aren't just wild, they would make Yao Ming duck for cover. Then he seemingly falls off the face of the earth, only to emerge again with one main difference, hes holding a bat instead of holding a ball. Hes become an outfielder, and a damn good one at that. He makes his way back through the Cardinals farm system, and because of a couple unfortunate injuries, lands on the big stage once again. That in itself has got to be the story of the year. But it gets better. First game back, he hits a home run in front of a ruckus home crowd. Now thats the stuff that dreams are made of.

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past 3 months, you know this is the story of Rick Ankiel, The St. Louis Cardinals newest right fielder. This guy has all the tools. A powerful bat. A rocket arm(he was a pitcher, for shit's sake). He can probably run well. And he could probably name all the capitol cities of the US. This guy is that good. Some people went so far as to call him, "The Natural", referencing the popular 1984 Robert Redford movie. And who could argue? Through his first 22 games in the Big Leagues(the 2nd time), Ankiel had been abusing opposing pitchers to the tune of a .358 average, 9 Home runs, 29 RBI, and 22 Runs. That is the definition of abuse. Not to mention that he had provided the Cardinals with the "pep" in their step that they had so desperately needed to propel them back into the race in the National League Central.


But, as we've learned before, all good things must come to an end. Some people cant just leave well enough alone. There will always be people out there, for whatever reason, that want to drudge up old things and try to bring people down. Especially with a story like this. I'm sure people were lining up from all over the country to rain on this parade. Well, someone finally did. The story broke sometime early last week. Sometime before 2005, when the league banned the drug, Ankiel had taken HGH, human growth hormone. Now, while not against the rules at the time, MLB can now suspend you based on evidence that you took it. Pretty weak rule if you ask me, but its how it is. Within the span of a couple days, this was all over the news. With names being thrown out left and right, it seemed that everybody who ever picked up a bat had cheated. The news reporters lined up to grill Ankiel with questions about his past. And unlike, Mark Mcgwire, he was here to talk about the past. Whether he had something to hide, or whether he was just shook up by everyone under the sun now calling him a CHEATER, this controversy has had a serious effect on his play. And its a pretty blatant effect too.

That "THUD" you hear is Rick Ankiel.

Since the day when he sliced and diced the Pirates for 2 Home runs, 7 Rbi, and 4 Runs scored, he has gone 2-22 with no Rbi and two runs scored. He also has 8 strikeouts in that span. Coincidence? I think its pretty damn obvious. Now the best story in baseball this year has become one of its worst. We haven't seen a collapse like this since the statue of Saddam fell. With Ankiel, so to went the Cardinals. From 1/2 game back a week ago, to where they stand now 4 1/2 games back.

Its kind of sad really. When you think about how much negative stuff is out there... Then you find a great feel good story for everyone to sink their teeth into... And boom. No mas. I, for one, am getting really sick of it. Memo to MLB, this steroids witch hunt needs to stop. What are they going to accomplish by digging up dirt from the past? All they would do is hurt their sport. Bring about more negative connotations about the nature of baseball in the Major Leagues. I've got news for ya... The fans, they don't give a shit! Its the media that is bringing down your sport. Baseball has drawn more fans this year than ever before, beating the record set last year, and the year before that. People love baseball. Your sport is great right now. Keep it that way. Yes, plenty of people took steroids in the past. We get it. We also get that people scuffed and vasolined balls. We get that people corked bats. We get that people used HGH. We Just DON'T CARE.
Just hit home runs, steal bases, throw some balls around a bit and Smile and things will be all good.

As for Rick Ankiel, who knows what will become of him.. He obviously has the talent to be a fixture in the league for a long time, but will this pass quietly or have we really seen the beginning of the end? What we do know, thanks to the media, is that he may not be so "Natural" anymore.


The Inevitable Muck-up said...

He told reporters that it was prescribed after surgery on his arm and I really want to believe that that is a valid answer. Troy Glaus got called out the same day, refused to talk to the media and has now been shut down for the season with a foot injury. That seems more sketchy than sitting down with the enemy and fielding their questions.

AdamBez said...

Good stuff nubs.