A Sad Story
It's as close to "Say It Ain't So" as you can imagine in modern sport.
Rick Ankiel was getting to be the feel-good story of the Major League Baseball season, the great comeback that makes all those memories of the odious Barry Bonds go away.
The guy who couldn't throw a strike and went to the minors to make himself into a big-league hitter comes back to be a force that puts the St. Louis Cardinals back into post-season contention in Roy Hobbs-like fashion.
Now this. Human growth hormone. Loads of deliveries several years ago, just about the time when Ankiel was trying to morph himself into a slugger.
This one is really going to stink. The New York Daily News broke the story today that Ankiel received a 12-month supply of HGH, and man oh man, is baseball going to take an unhappy hit on this one.
Even Ankiel's boss, GM Walt Jocketty, has already been quoted as saying that it would be "tragic" if the story is true.
What can Ankiel say? Deny it outright? Say he was using it for his cat?
And don't tell me it doesn't matter because it happened several years ago.
First of all, we don't know that. HGH is difficult to detect, and Ankiel has been in the minors for several seasons where, presumably, the testing procedures are even less sophisticated.
Moreover, the entire point of the Ankiel tale is that this was a young man who refused to give up on his dream, not a young man who found a pharmaceutical answer to his athletic problems.
If there's a possible positive conclusion to this, its that Ankiel comes clean, admits what he did and why he did it, and tells the world he doesn't do it anymore.
But what are the chances of that happening? Zero, maybe?
Say it ain't so, Rick.