What else can this man do? I'm not even sure if calling him a man does him justice. Something more along the lines of Saint, Deity, or Superman should suffice. What Rick Ankiel did yesterday is awe inspiring. And he did it amid new allegations that he took HGH in 2004. More on that later. Ankiel hit 2 HR with 7 RBI in a 16-4 Cardinals win over the Pirates. This just continues a stretch over the last month that is just plain incredible. I heard a stat on PTI yesterday that blew my mind. Ankiel's stats, if stretched out over a full season would come out to something around a .345 BA, 50 HR, and 150 RBI. These are outstanding numbers, albeit not anything that hasn't been done, but mind blowing for an ex-pitcher.
Ankiel hit his first home run off of Bryan Bullington in the 2nd inning. Bullington was the first pick in the draft 5 years ago. It's nice to see him finally make the show after watching him decimate my high school's baseball and basketball team for years. The dude was lights out from the pitcher's mound as well as from behind the arc. It was even better to see the Cardinals rout him as they moved 1 game back of the Cubs and Brewers for 1st place in the NL Central.
Now back to the HGH deal. The New York Daily News reported that Ankiel recieved a 12 month supply of HGH in 2004 from an Orlando practice that is under investigation. Multiple athletes have been implicated in this same investigation, including Rodney Harrison of the New England Patriots. It is unclear what MLB plans to do with this information considering that HGH was not on the banned list of substances in 2004. There is no evidence that Ankiel has taken anything since that time, which means MLB may not be able to do anything to him.
From what I've read, the evidence looks pretty substantial that Ankiel is involved. The NFL has already suspended Harrison and a Cowboys coach due to the investigation. This revelation just taints what was and still is a fascinating story of the comebak of Rick Ankiel. I'm sure more information will continue to pour out of the news outlets, both true and false. There have been no comments made by Ankiel himself or by his agent Scott Boras. Walt Jocketty, the GM of the Cardinals had this to say about the news, "If it's true, obviously it would be very tragic, along with everything else we've had happen to us this year." That is so true. It would be tragic and would be a nice addition to the Cardinals bizarre season.
When you look at this situation from afar, is it really surprising that Ankiel could have used? Just think about it as if it were you. In 2002 you are a phenom, on your way to stardom and riches. Your a young kid with zip on his fastball and knee buckling curve. Then BAM! A bout of wildness smacks you in the face, in the playoffs mind you, and it looks like your career could be over. You continue to fight and fight, but you can never get back to where you once were. Too many demons from your past, too many new ones popping up daily. Then in a moment of desperation you decide to scrap what you've been doing your whole life and switch gears. You decide to become a hitter. You decide to do something that is rarely if ever done. The competition is intense and you don't have much time to waste to catch up. So you get a little help. Help that at that time was not illegal in the sport that you play in. You tell yourself in your mind that you will only use until you can catch up to your competitors. You tell yourself it's OK because you know others are also using. You follow that mantra until you catch up and then notice you can even be better than the competition without the help of the substance. Your confidence grows daily. Your skill grows daily. You started your comeback in Johnson City. Now you are crushing the ball in Memphis and you are about to be called to the Show. The Show calls and you step up to that call and a whole nation is enamoured with you, your abilities, your candor, and your story.
What would you have done in that same situation? Just give up and work at the home town Dairy Queen? Sure the Blizzards kick ass, but not so much when your the one making them. Or would you have worked your ass off even though it wasn't good enough initially? Or would you get a little help till the confidence came out that you always knew you had? I'm in no way condoning the use of any performance enhancing substance. I'm just asking, what would you have done in that situation?
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