Saturday, August 11, 2007

Story Time

Round up your friends and gather around the computer because it's story time, and this story has drama, intrigue, comedy, and joy...The Rick Ankiel Story. This story started before the turn of the century, back in 1999, when a 19 year old Ankiel made his MLB debut for the St. Louis Cardinals. He did well in his late season call-up posting a 3.27 era in 33 innings pitched. Ankiel's real impact came in the new millennium, when he racked up 11 wins for the Cards in his rookie season of 2000 as a 20 year old pitching sensation and helped guide them to some October baseball. His stats were suggestive of future greatness- 3.50 era in 175 ip with 194 k's...Doc Gooden even says "DAMN!". What happens next is sickening, has been the butt of many "wild thing" jokes, and talked about for years since...Rick was pitching on the big stage of the playoffs and completely lost "it". "It" being his mind, control, and dignity. In 3 post-season games he suffered through 4 innings with 11 walks, 5 hits, a 15.75 era, and numerous wild pitches. He was never the same man again, he went from the "next big thing" to "the washed-up barely-was"...it was sad to witness as a baseball fan. After his post-season debacle, he tried to comeback in 2001 and prove to the world it didn't bother him, but it obviously did, as he had a 7.13 era in only 24 innings pitched (3 hit batters and 5 wild pitches)...career looks to be over. Ankiel doesn't give up easily though, he toiled in the minors and fought back for another chance on the mound, and in 2004 he climbed the MLB hill once again for St. Louis and pitched 10 innings with mildly better results (5.40 era). However, this time Rick had enough of the pitching gig, and announced he was through with pitching and was turning his desire and goals towards becoming an outfielder. He was already becoming a joke around baseball, and now he added his own punchline...seriously how the hell is this dude going to become a MLB outfielder?! Well, in 2005, his first season in the minors focusing on hitting he managed to hit 21 homeruns and play decent defense...maybe he can do this after all. Then in 2006 Ankiel gets hurt and is forced to miss the entire season due to injury...man can't catch a break. Still not giving up, determined to persevere he comes back for the 2007 season and the Cards put him in Triple A Memphis where he went absolutely berserk with the stick- .270 avg, 31 hr, 86 rbi and now the big league call-up yet again, but this time as an outfielder. He made the successful transition! Through 3 games in August so far, he has hit 2 homeruns and is showing the world that he's a helluva athlete. Without trying to be too sappy, this is a truly inspiring story and gives you goosebumps. Thanks for showing us you could do it Rick, I hope you have a great rest of your career.

~Carson

6 comments:

BloodStripes said...

This guy is ripping. 2 more home runs today. He is very determined to succeed.

BenJah said...

good post, carson. and wow, what an unbelievable story. probably a better movie-story than coste's movie would be. also considering that his dad is in jail for international drug trafficing.

it almost doesnt matter that this guy strikes out more often than adam dunn, he has immense athletic talent and incredible personal determination

GM-Carson said...

When I was typing the piece, he had only 1 homerun in Saturday's game, then he ended up going yard twice, for 3 homeruns in 3 games. It truly is a great story.

BloodStripes said...

My phantasy team needs an offensive lift. Maybe this guy could help. I've given a stack of other guys worse than him a go, so why not? I had a shit draft and by the time I got interested and knew how to play I had plenty of DL candidates and crap players. Ankiel deserves a run just for being good enough to come back the way he has. Well done Rick and good luck to you.

GM-Carson said...

I picked Ankiel up on my one fantasy team. I just need some pop, so hopefully those homers keep coming.

GM-Carson said...

Ankiel went deep yet again. That's 4 homers in 9 games with 10 hits. Truly amazing story.