Thursday, March 10, 2005


Something's Fishy About this Bird

Apparently tired of frequent injury and watching fans behind home plate don kevlar whenever he took the hill, erstwhile Nook LaLoosh clone Rick Ankiel has announced that he's giving up pitching and is now going to focus on reviving his career as an outfielder. Ankiel, who in 2000 drew comparisons to Steve Carlton as a 20 year old flamethrower, saw his pitching career derailed in a whirlwind of injuries and wildness of comic proportions. His inability to throw the ball over the plate seemed to surface in the 2000 playoffs against the Braves and Mets, when his errant deliveries were hitting batters, mascots, broadcasters, low flying planes...anything but the strike zone. His hideous mechanics led to an endless string of arm troubles and he fell into oblivion until finally resurfacing last season in a noble comeback attempt. Now he's planning on converting into the outfield and making it back with the Cardinals' major league roster after they put him through waivers this preseason.

Excuse me for being suspicious, since that's just my nature, but this reeks of a circuitous and deceptive way to keep a talented pitcher. The Cardinals don't want to keep Ankiel on their 25 man roster going into the season because he's probably not going to contribute much early on, but they plan on getting him back because teams won't bother claiming him off waivers (Ankiel is out of options) now that he's magically announced he's an outfielder. Um-hmm. Is it possible that this outfield conversion talk is just smoke to try to scare other teams away from grabbing Ankiel when he goes on the wire? It's silly to think Ankiel's cybernetic arm still has the same juice it did in 2000, but I'm sure he's got something left, and he's still only 25. The Cards know this, so don't be surprised if Ankiel suddenly has a bizarre Twin Peaks-ish backwards dream and discovers he wants to be a pitcher again when St. Louis gets him back. If I'm one of those crappy teams like the Tigers or Pirates, I would take a flyer on Ankiel and try to infer that maybe pitching ain't so bad after all.

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