Friday, September 07, 2007

"Say it Ain't So, Rick"

Saw this at rotoworld this morning:
Rick Ankiel-OF- Cardinals Sep. 7 - 3:55 am et
The New York Daily News reports that Rick Ankiel received a 12-month supply of human growth hormone in 2004 from a Florida pharmacy currently under investigation.
So much for what was arguably the best story of the year. If that was Ankiel's only foray into the world of PEDs, one could almost sympathize with him. Ankiel, still a pitcher at the time, had his 2002 and 2003 seasons wrecked by elbow injuries and was trying desperately to make it back. Still, he could have been cheating long before his elbow problems and there's no telling whether he's still using today -- MLB players are not tested for HGH. While a suspension for Ankiel isn't at all likely, we doubt this story will go away as quickly as the news regarding Gary Matthews Jr. did.
Source: NY Daily News

Dammit! This really casts a shadow on what is arguably one of the great sports comeback stories I can remember, period. Here's what I wrote about Ankiel when he first came up to the Cards last month, and the story had only gotten more incredible since—the guy had 7 RBI last night! In 23 games he's hitting .360 with 9 bombs and 29 Ribs. The Cards jumped on his back and climbed back into the race going 17-6 since his call-up.

As rotoworld said, this guy had such downfall—first mental, then physical—one can almost forgive the desperation he must have been feeling at the time. According to the story, he recieved one shipment, before MLB's ban on HGH took effect in 2005, and there is no indication he got any more after that.

What I'd love is for Ankiel to come clean, and make a heartfelt confession about what he was going through, and how he was willing to do whatever he could within the rules at the time to resurrect his career. Unfortunately, he can't do that because while MLB didn't ban HGH, he probably received it illegally. There's no way to know if he uses it now or anytime in between, because MLB does not test for HGH.

I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. For now. I'm also going to start getting used to the fact that just about everybody did some of this shit...

UPDATE: Deadspin editor and CArds fan Will Leitch has a good post up.


Smitty said...

I have a nominee for your next DOW...

Chris Howard said...

Yeah, I heard this on the radio this morning. It sucks. Baseball has got to tighten up on this shit or we're going to be hearing about these types of stories over and over again.

Mr Furious said...

I've been back and forth with people on this at a couple other baseball sites. This is my stance on "defending" Ankiel:

"Trying desperately to make it back to the majors after having a career-derailing mental issue, then rehabbing from serious surgery makes Ankiel a slghtly more sympathetic character than an egomaniac in his late 30s with a HOF career already under is belt"

Look. All indications are he cheated. And from what else I've read, HGH on its own does nothing for athletes, but is used as part of a regimen of steroids and masking agents. Which means it's likely he did more than just what was just exposed.

As I said before, if he comes clean or it turns out that he used these substances as part of a desperate drive to return from injury, I'll cut some slack.

MLB is getting the deserved blowback from ignoring this problem for far too long.

Mike said...

Since your post is similar to your comment at Baseball Crank, I figure I might as well just post my comment to his post:

This whole story -- not just Ankiel, but Bonds & Sosa & Palmiero, etc -- is completely tiresome. Enough.

Baseball players have always tried to get an edge, and they always will. See Ball, spit; Bat, corked; Pills, pep; Signs, stolen. We're not children, we can all deal with our shattered visions of gladiatorial honestly & morality. And if we have kids, we can explain to them that most pro athletes are pampered babies who never learned to do anything but hit a ball, or shoot jumpers, or lay a devastating block. Deal. With. It.

It's a professional business based on playing a game. I'm officially unconcerned going forward with who sticks what into his ass or arm. They can ingest whale hormones for all I care. Just give me a good product and exciting games.
Posted by Mike at September 8, 2007 10:52 AM