Rick Ankiel: Anxiety in Professional Sports

Fellow podcasters Matt & Phil from the Semi Intellectual Musings Podcast recently contacted us via twitter to ask for our opinion on a story about former major league baseball player Rick Ankiel and his battle with anxiety.  There way to much to say in 140 characters so I decided to type our some thoughts here instead.

In the late 90’s and early 2000s I was heavy into fantasy sports, back then before marriage, family, career, I knew every player on every MLB team and every franchise’s top prospects.  No prospect stood out or was more highly touted than Rick Ankiel. He was a “can’t miss” prospect, an arm that comes around once in a generation. He showed great promise in the 1999 and 2000 seasons but like many hard throwers he was plagued with some “control problems”. As the article alludes to, it was in the 2000 playoffs vs. the Braves where it all unraveled for Ankiel. He literally could not throw a strike, throwing one wild pitch after another.  We had seen this kind of mental block before with Mackey Sasser a catcher who couldn’t throw the ball back to the pitcher and also with Chuck Knoblauch a second baseman who couldn’t throw the ball to first base and eventually became an outfielder.  But this thing with Ankiel was different, he was a pitcher, his only job is to throw the ball sixty feet six inches from the mound to the plate.

Ankiel was out of baseball within  couple of seasons. This was nothing new really,  baseball history is filled with flamethrowers who couldn’t harness their full potential. The amazing thing is that he re-emerged as a power hitting outfielder in 2007-2008 and was actually pretty good (he hit 25 homeruns in 2008).

Flash forward to 2017 and Roberto Osuna of the Jays who recently openly stated he was dealing with anxiety. The fact that he is openly talking about it is a testament to just how far we have come in the past 15 years. Historically a professional athlete would be seen as weak if he admitted to anxiety, athletes are taught even as kids not to show any signs of weakness.
It’s campaigns like Bell’s Let’s Talk and spokesperson Clara Hughes that have changed the way we look at depression and anxiety.  Rick Ankiel couldn’t talk about it back then. Today Osuna can.

Written by Skip

My Top 20 U2 Songs

by Skip

As I stated on our latest podcast episode there is only one correct answer as to the best U2 song of all time. Here are my top 10:

  1. Where the Street Have No Name. Probably the best opening build up to any song ever. The Edge’s guitar building slowly, the bass and drums rolling in all leading up to Bono’s epic “I want to run, I want to hide…”
  2. Bad. The live version from the Wide Awake in America EP is incredible in so many ways. U2 at their best.
  3. Bullet the Blue Sky. I also prefer the live version from Rattle and Hum. When Bono is shining the spotlight on the Edge… The movie was nothing special but that part gave me chills.
  4. Running to Stand Still. A haunting ballad about drug addiction. Such a beautiful song.
  5. Who’s Gonna Ride your Wild Horses. Achtung Baby is an extremely underrated album. One of those albums that gets better the more you listen to it. When Bono sings: “Don’t turn around, Don’t turn around again…”  I dare you not to sing along.
  6. Stay (far away so close). My cohost Josh reminded me of this hidden gem.  “Green light, Seven Eleven..”
  7. One. There are many who might have this ranked #1. Really beautiful song.  If you are not familiar with the Mary J. Blidge version, check it out.
  8. Beautiful Day. Our guest Joseph said this was one of the most perfect pop-rock songs ever written. I still remember playing this on a loop 20 times in a row when it first came out.
  9. In God’s Country. When the Joshua Tree was released I didn’t even have a CD player. I had the 12 inch single (vinyl) of In God’s Country that I played over and over.
  10. Pride (In the Name of love). As a teen I always loved the political songs.

#11-20: A Sort of Homecoming, Sunday Bloody Sunday, With or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, All I Want is You, 40, Angel of Harlem, New Year’s Day, The Unforgettable Fire, Red Hill Mining Town.

Stanley Cup Celebration 1999

Flashback to summer of 1999, a much younger Skip lifting and drinking champagne from the Stanley Cup.
Photo 2017-06-30, 9 23 04 AM.jpg

Excuse me, Stanley Cup coming through!

Some amazing behind the scenes video of Sidney Crosby carrying the Stanley Cup into the Penguins dressing room. What make this so special; Crosby is the ultimate Canadian, politely saying excuse me as he is making his way through the crowd of reporters.


The Mr. Met Saga


By now you have heard the story of Mr. Met, the beloved New York Met mascot who gave a fan the finger and was subsequently fired. His firing is definitely appropriate, as a team mascot simply can not give a fan the finger and expect to keep his job.

A fan has spoken out in defense of Mr Met and details the events that led up to the infamous gesture.

Article is here: http://nypost.com/2017/06/01/fan-says-mr-met-showered-with-profane-heckles-before-bird-flip/

IMPORTANT NOTE: Mr. Met only has four digits on each hand so technically he can not give anyone the middle finger.


In our most recent episode (#40) we talked about the Nashville Predators fan who smuggled in a catfish into Penguins arena and threw it on the ice.  FULL STORY HERE.


Tribute to Chris Cornell

When people think of the grunge music of the 90’s its usually Pearl Jam and Nirvana that come to mind, however the influence of Soundgarden and their front man Chris Cornell should not be overlooked. Soundgarden had an indescribable sound, part punk, part classic rock, with a lead vocalist who’s voice and presence were one of a kind.
Here are some of our favorite Chris Cornell songs: Spoonman (Soundgarden), Hunger Strike (Temple of the Dog) and a solo version of Nothing Compares 2U.