Rick Ankiel's situation makes me think back to the beginning and end of my own career. At 19, I was told -- even though I could throw close to 100 mph -- "your mechanics suck." It took me a while to figure out that God made me the way He made me -- I would never throw like some guy in the Spalding Guide for great mechanics.
|After his meltdown in the postseason, Ankiel is learning to overcome adversity.|
When I finally came to this healthy conclusion, I learned a slider from Derek Botello and Ed Figueroa. Figueroa was instrumental in my development, instilling in me a mentality that carried me my whole career; he gave me confidence. He taught me to believe in myself and everything else would be simple. "Keep it simple, stupid" is maybe the best advice I was ever given.
Everything is going against Ankiel right now. Last year the Cardinals started tinkering with his mechanics because he throws across his body. The tinkering could have worked for a while, but when things get nasty and the pressure is on, thinking about how to throw is the last thing a pitcher should do, especially at the major league level.
Now comes the really bad part for Ankiel. Everybody and his brother has an opinion on how to fix his problem when everybody should just shut up and leave him alone. The Cards should schedule his throwing at irregular times, out of sight from the public and the media. Then they should let Rick go back to what got him to the big leagues in the first place.
Someone needs to tell him to pick up the ball, look at the catcher and fire it as hard as he can. Don't think about anything else. Major league hitters are hard enough to get out without having to think about how to do it. The sooner Ankiel gets back to basics and people leave him alone, the sooner he can go back to kickin' ass.