by Jonah Keri
Also Receiving Votes
- Chamique Holdsclaw's sudden retirement: Sparks have an opening if Ankiel's career as an outfielder doesn't pan out.
- U.S. Open practice rounds: Ankiel makes your case of the shanks look mild by comparison.
- Carlos Zambrano's celebratory fist pumps: At least this time his fist didn't actually hit someone.
- Odds on other reasons the Orlando Magic are offering refunds, after the team said it would give back ticket payments linked to Billy Donovan's ill-fated hire:
- 15 to 1 That whole not getting past the first round of the playoffs in 11 years thing
- 10 to 1 Anything to do with J.J. Redick
- 5 to 1 New starting point guard? Jeff Burton
Not In This Issue
- NCAA not impressed with your fancy First Amendment
- "The Sopranos" fans looking forward to whining about "Entourage" season premiere
- Eric Milton headed for Tommy John surgery; Reds jokingly ask for $25.5 million back. No seriously, give it %^@$ back!
- Events That Would Be More Interesting If Rick Ankiel Were Involved
BARRY BONDS' 747TH CAREER HR
The Giants slugger ended a 13-game drought, belting a two-run blast off the Blue Jays' Josh Towers in the fourth inning last night. The homer left Bonds eight short of tying Hank Aaron's record. It also upped Bonds' home run total to 13 for the season, just two below Rick Ankiel's total of 15 bombs at Triple-A Memphis in the Pacific Coast League. With the Cardinals last in the majors in runs per game and in dire need of an offensive boost, Ankiel could earn a call-up this season -- maybe even as soon as the Cards-Giants series July 6-8 in St. Louis. If that happened, the first reporter to ask Bonds what it's like to trail a converted pitcher in homers would immediately win my vote for awesomest human ever.
OREGON STATE'S THIRD STRAIGHT TRIP TO THE COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
Ankiel would've been impressed with Beavers pitcher Mike Stutes' command. The Oregon State righty yielded just two runs on three hits and one walk while fanning nine, en route to an impressive 8-2 win over Michigan. The Beavers will now defend their national championship in Omaha. Ankiel was drafted right out of high school by the Cardinals, so he missed out on the College World Series, not to mention all the keggers and random hooking up that college life entails. That's OK, though. By the time he posted a 7.31 ERA and more than a walk an inning in 2001, Cardinals fans were drowning their sorrows with kegs and randomly hooking up their eyelids to car batteries to shock away the pain.
DONOVAN MCNABB'S RETURN TO PRACTICE FIELD
The Eagles QB came back several weeks ahead of schedule, as he works his way back from knee surgery. Observers were surprised to see McNabb toss an array of passes during individual drills, then take snaps with the first-team offense. McNabb will need to be on his toes on July 13, though, when the Cardinals come to town. One errant throw from right field during Ankiel's visit to Citizens Bank Park and it's A.J. Feeley time all over again.
MARINERS WIN IN CLEVELAND; ICHIRO JUST HAPPY TO GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE
Playing a makeup game from the snowed-out April series at Jacobs Field, the M's eked out an 8-7 victory. Seattle built a 7-0 lead, watched its tired bullpen blow it, then jumped back ahead in the ninth to win it. The win was a big relief to Ichiro, who as it turns out is not a big fan of Cleveland: "To tell the truth, I'm not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to," Ichiro told the Seattle Times through an interpreter. "If I ever saw myself saying I'm excited going to Cleveland, I'd punch myself in the face, because I'm lying." You know what? There's no way Ankiel can improve on that line. Let's just move on.
CYCLISTS RIDE NUDE TO PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY MODE OF TRANSPORTATION
More than 200 cyclists pedaled through the World Naked Bike Ride on the southern coast of England to promote cycling as an alternative to pollution-producing motor vehicles. It's a noble cause, to be sure. Plus, even Ankiel won't be enough to distract bored Cardinals fans while Tony La Russa masterfully executes seven pitching changes a game. Fortunately the guy on the unicycle's available for hire -- 50 quid for every ride around the outfield.
THE DAUNTE CULPEPPER FIRE SALE
The Dolphins' trade for old, crappy quarterback Trent Green has left younger, crappy quarterback Daunte Culpepper twisting in the wind. Miami has tried to generate interest in Culpepper, after trading a second-round draft pick to get him last year. But there's no way the Dolphins will get nearly that much in return, not after a lost season in which Culpepper played just four subpar games. Ankiel can relate to the former phenom's fall from grace. Culpepper was never the same after the spectacular Randy Moss left Minnesota -- just as Ankiel was never the same after the spectacularly out-of-shape Fernando Tatis left St. Louis.
Tuesday June 12
Rangers at Pirates: 7 pm, MLB Extra Innings
Kevin Millwood (7.57 ERA) and Zach Duke (5.75 ERA) square off in epic battle of Guys Who Screwed Your Fantasy Team. Interleague battle projected to be so boring, doctors have advised fans at PNC Park to continuously stuff their faces with Primanti Brothers sandwiches to avoid swallowing their own tongues.
Spurs at Cavaliers: 9 pm, ABC
Look for the Cavs to go with their defensive bread and butter: Letting Tim Duncan dominate inside and clearing giant lanes for Tony Parker to drive. Meanwhile, Cleveland's strategy of having LeBron brick fallaway jumpers for half the game, then finally having him go to the rim once the Spurs' lead hits 20 has proven to be a winner. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Blue Jays at Giants: 11 pm, MLB Extra Innings
A.J. Burnett looks to build on his recent strikeout binge against Bonds and company. But Canadians are far more anxious to follow ex-pat Lee Fraser's trip up the coast and his ongoing efforts to start a border war. We're a Flag Day showdown away from reprising "Canadian Bacon" -- for real this time.