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“Rick Ankiel makes me believe that there’s always a way back from the abyss”

Apr 9, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

Rick Ankiel AP

Mike Bates comes to both (gently) bury Rick Ankiel and to praise him. Mostly praise, though.  For while he has struggled mightily so far for the Astros and may very well be getting his last chance as a major leaguer, Bates reminds us that his story is ultimately one of triumph:

Ankiel had never really worked on his hitting against professional players. He was raw and had atrocious (and poetically appropriate) strike zone judgment, but he had tremendous power and was a decent fielder with, of course, an amazing arm from right or center field. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but that is so much more of a career than the vast majority of players who have ever played the game. Rick Ankiel not only endured, but he persevered. Regardless of what might have been, he deserves accolades and celebration for what he is.

Good read about a guy that I think almost all of us thought we’d never see again after he stopped pitching. And who, because he has spent seven years on seemingly borrowed time, in many ways beat a system that is supposed to chew up guys who get derailed the way the young Ankiel did.  Even if he never gets another hit in a big league uniform again, Rick Ankiel won.

  1. blues1988 - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    as a cardinals fan, i’ll always love ankiel and i wish him the best. hope he can make it through one or a few more years. i remember his meltdown(s) on the mound like it was yesterday. Man was that crazy…

    • paperlions - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      I remember that as well, I was working land surveying in West Texas at the time, remember digging holes and being more and more concerned as the wild pitches mounted up….game 1 of a playoff series against the Braves, had it blaring from the car radio….I believe the Cardinals actually still won that game.

      I’ll always root for the guy.

      • okwhitefalcon - Apr 9, 2013 at 5:33 PM


        He was the most dominating Cards pitching prospect I’ve ever witnessed as a minor leaguer in person.

    • stlouis1baseball - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      I remember it vividly as well blues. Dude’s hook dropped off the table. Serious (12 – 6). I seem to remember him setting a rookie record from Strikeouts. Then…he inexplicably caught the Ricky Vaughn syndrome. Nailing backstops. Throwing over, under and around hitters. Making them piss themselves little leaguers worrying about getting drilled. Crazy stuff indeed. I will always be a huge fan for him re-inventing himself. But if people knew where he came from (aside from re-inventing himself as a position player)…he would have legions of more fans.
      The guy really has come full circle.

  2. kjericho43 - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    There was this awesomeness:

    • paperlions - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:08 PM

      and these:

  3. jrfstl - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Might as well flesh out the reputation I started to establish on the previous Ankiel post today. And yes, that is a cat in Rick Ankiel’s pants….

    I’ll always love him. (paperlions, I knew what your link was even before I clicked — my favorite!)

  4. Sorbet Te Charta Saccus - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    ” Rick Ankiel not only endured, but he persevered….”

    The guy earned over $12 million in his career. Let’s not go too crazy with the whole “woe-is-Rick” narrative.

    • paperlions - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Yeah, growing up with an abuse drug dealer as a father is a walk in the park.

      • paperlions - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:57 PM


      • Sorbet Te Charta Saccus - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:19 PM

        You are the reason for my name, and this is exactly why paperbag. This entire blog post is about his struggles as a pitcher and how he overcame them to become a good enough position player to stay around baseball for more years than anyone thought. Good for him, but I stand by my notion that he has made $12 million and is doing just fine no matter how bad he ended up sucking as a pitcher.

        Nowhere on this blog post, in which I commented, does it mention that he had an abusive drug dealer as a father. Nowhere did I say that THAT was what I was talking about.

        We don’t see eye to eye all that much, paperbag, but in this case, I think you are being a complete dick. I was talking about the baseball career narrative…not his life story narrative. And neither was Craig in this blog post.

      • paperlions - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:26 PM

        Yes, because life is a vacuum and ignoring relevant information just because it isn’t explicitly recognized is a reasonable approach. Now, fuck off.

      • Sorbet Te Charta Saccus - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:33 PM

        How did I “ignore” information that wasn’t even in the post? Or even in the linked article? So let me see if I understand you…whenever something is posted, I should read the player’s entire life story before commenting so that I don’t offend you? You, sir, are a complete and utter asshole.

        Go fuck your mother.

      • forsch31 - Apr 10, 2013 at 12:45 AM

        While the blog post in question did not mention Ankiel’s troubled history with his father, that does not mean that it never happened, and most fans know about that very important part of Ankiel’s life, which had a big affect on his troubles with baseball. Your comment, Sorbet, wasn’t about the blog post specifically; it was about a “woe-is-me” narrative about Ankiel, which to be blunt, makes absolutely zero sense when you actually realize the crap he had to live through his childhood and early life.

        The $12 million at that point is a justified reward, one that he earne by actually having a career in the first place after overcoming his personal issues and remaking himself as a position player when he never played that way as a pro. And honestly, that’s the point of that blog post.

    • The Common Man - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      I don’t think anyone should feel sorry for Ankiel. But I think we should applaud that, when he encountered an obstacle that threatened to completely derail him, he found a way around or through. That’s admirable. And for doing that, he earned $12 million. Good for him.

    • okwhitefalcon - Apr 9, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      Don’t “narrative” me bro.


      • Sorbet Te Charta Saccus - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:21 PM

        Don’t “bro” me, jag off.


    • okwhitefalcon - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      Too late..bro..

      You apparently “narratived” while “jagging” off.

      Two wrongs don’t make a right.


      • Sorbet Te Charta Saccus - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:35 PM

        Another stupid fucking Cardinals fan. You guys are fucking nitwits. Between you and paperbag, I’ve never bigger fucking assholes in my life. I thought Cardinals fans were the best fans in baseball…but really, you are all just a bunch of fucking Stepfords.

    • okwhitefalcon - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      Ah, resorting to name calling – classy.

      Now grab a tissue and clean yourself up, post “jag off”

      Otherwise you’ll stick (literally) to your “narrative”.

  5. coryfor3 - Apr 9, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    He runs well too. That aside, he has indicated a willingness to possibly return to the mound. I wonder if that has been discussed more.

  6. carbydrash - Apr 9, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    Rick’s 3 run home run in 2007 in his return as an outfielder ranks as my all-time favorite Cardinal regular season moment.

    For many of us, we thought the plans to convert him to an outfielder was just kind of cruel and wouldn’t work at all. Instead, in his first 585 ABs, he hit 36 home runs, drove in 110 and slugged .515 Eventually, pitchers figured him out and he wasn’t able to adjust.

    Still, being able to go from having arguably the most epic meltdown in baseball history to re-emerging as a full-time outfielder 7 years later is one of the great baseball stories of all time.

    • carbydrash - Apr 9, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      My apologies for the Metallica soundtrack…

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