Rick Ankiel: walking less than Stephen Hawking


Astros outfielder Rick Ankiel is walking less than Stephen Hawking these days.  His 23-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio would be outstanding if he were still pitching.  Of course, he’s not.  Then again, when he was pitching, he was about as accurate as an epileptic monkey throwing darts or a New York Jets quarterback.  His final season on the mound saw him walk 25 in just 24 innings.

If only there were a rare supernatural event – like a walk by Rick Ankiel, for example – that could rip a hole in the space-time continuum and deliver us an Ankiel vs Ankiel showdown on the diamond….

Announcer: Welcome back to Busch Stadium where starting pitcher Rick Ankiel enters the second inning for the Cardinals.  Ankiel is showing improvement over recent starts, walking only 3 batters in the first, though giving up no runs as the Astros bounced into a double play and were caught trying to steal second while already having a runner on second.

As has become customary when Ankiel pitches, the grounds crew raises a second netting behind home plate and fans in Cardinals Club Section 5 reach for the complimentary catchers masks provided under their seats.

Stepping into the batters box for an intriguing matchup is Astros right fielder Rick Ankiel.  This will be the first career plate appearance for Ankiel against himself.  We finally get to find out what happens when the Inaccurate Force meets the Unwalkable Object.

Ankiel rocks back, enters the windup and prepares to deliver the first pitch to Ankiel.  Ankiel swings awkwardly and misses a fast ball as it appears he was looking for a curve ball well outside the strike zone.  With the count at 0-1, Ankiel prepares for pitch number 2.  There’s the windup and the pitch and Ankiel is clearly confused at the plate as he watches a sinker bounce all the way to the backstop.  He obviously has no idea where Ankiel is going to throw his next pitch, which makes him the last person ever to come to that realization.

With the count even, Ankiel winds and pitches … a fastball sails at Ankiel’s head!  He ducks under the pitch but the ball strikes his bat and dribbles down the third base line in foul territory.  It’s the hardest an Astros batter has hit a ball in three days.

The umpire tosses a new ball to the pitcher, the most accurate ball thrown so far this inning.  Ankiel settles and here comes the big bender hung right over the plate and it is driven deep to right but just foul.  That seems to have shaken the southpaw.

(15 minutes later)

We’ve reached the 40th pitch of this at-bat as Ankiel has managed to foul off everything Ankiel has thrown in this area code.  In fact, I think he even got a piece of the rosin bag the pitcher threw to the ground behind the mound.  Here’s pitch 40 and it’s WAY outside, yet Ankiel throws the bat, fouling it into the 3rd base dugout.

(20 minutes later)

Another ball in the dirt and another foul ball.  That brings Tony LaRussa out of the dugout as Ankiel has reached his 100 pitch limit.  Cal Eldred will come in with no outs in the top of the second and still a 1-2 count on Ankiel.

Eldred finishes his warmup pitches and Ankiel steps in.  The relief pitcher’s first pitch goes precisely where Ankiel least expected it – right down the middle of the plate for strike three.

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