When I opened my e-mail today I thought someone was pranking me. It was actually a pretty funny joke—"we sent Marlon Anderson and Hector Luna to the outfield with a straight face so now we're sending… Rick Ankiel!" It was funny and I wanted to see Ray Mileur's face if he got the same thing. I figured he would have gotten a chuckle out of it. But then I went to another site and it appeared there as a serious article. And then to the Cardinal's official site—same thing, and then it occurred to me: that little ingrate.
Now I don't know exactly what the crushing psychological factors are for his decision but after all he's been through and to still have the kind of loyalty the fans have given him to simply pack it in and chase down fly balls in A Ball for $400k this year is a slap in the face. Instead of giving the money back and instead of just retiring outright, Rick decided to keep cashing in and waste everyone's collective time.
What will happen to poor Rick's fragile psyche when he drops a couple balls in the outfield? Will he quit the outfield to be an infielder? Maybe he'll become the laundry guy—as long as that $400,000 check clears I'm pretty sure he'll do whatever around the clubhouse. It's strangely befitting that a guy who sent a record number of pitches to the backstop in a playoff game managed to do the same to his career a couple weeks into his spring training "comeback."
It might sound like I'm upset about the money, and truthfully I am a little bit, but we did pay Esteban Yan to suck a couple years ago. The difference is Esteban Yan didn't quit and ask to become a middle infielder so he could keep getting paid.
Cardinals fans are too classy to probably make too much of an issue about this. Of course not many people outside of New Jersey are likely even going to see Ankiel this year—or any other for that matter. Rick Ankiel has managed to take one of the potentially great stories of this season and turn into one of the strangest anti-climaxes that I can remember.
So let me be the first to say Rick, thanks what you did in 2000 and thanks for nothing in 2005. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
You can write Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org