Saturday, August 11, 2007

Will the Real Nuke LaLoosh Please Stand Up?

This is an amazing story for the major leagues.

I doubt many will remember pitcher Rick Ankiel from the late 90's and early 00's. A pitching phenom in every sense of the word, Ankiel finally got his start in the bigs with the St. Louis Cardinals. After a great season of 11-7 and a strikeout percentage of almost 10 batters per 9 ininngs, he pitched the first game of the 2000 NLDS and the wheels came off. He threw numerous wild pitches and walked several batters. Even though they still won the game (thanks to a 6 run first couple of innings), Ankiel didn't look like a major league pitcher. In his second outing during the NLCS, he didn't make it out of the second inning, throwing 20 total pitches, walking two and throwing 2 wild pitches. The Cards lost that series to the Amazing Mets. After being sent down to the minors, his troubles continued. In one game he walked 24 batters in only 4 innings, settling with an ERA of over 20. Ankiel then had season ending Tommy Johns surgery in 2003. So, what does a down and out pitcher suffering from surgery do? He switches to the outfield, comes back to the majors 4 years later and smacks a 3 run homer in his first game with the Cardinals this week. The Cardinals have had a tremendously tough year and even though I'm not a Cards fan, it's stories like these that continue to fuel my enduring passion for our greatest sport.

UPDATE: Just watched Baseball Tonight and learned that Ankiel went 3-4 today with 2 more home runs. Plus, he made an incredible over the shoulder catch. They stated it best, saying, "This guy is the natural."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No My Friend, there is only ONE person who can hold the "Natural" Label and he is Josh Hamilton