Maybe this should be a fanshot, because I'm referencing a post by the great Joe Posnanski. I dunno. There was a line in his live blog recap during the 7th inn. He simply stated that since 1920, only 11 pitchers the age 21 or younger had struck out 10+ in a game without walking a batter. Nolan Ryan, Vida Blue, and Dwight Gooden had done it twice. Only one pitcher had done it 3 times. Any guesses?
This is where it gets depressing. That one pitcher is Rick Ankiel. In 2000 Rick was 20 years old and having a dominating rookie season. The future was bright, especially on these 3 days.
May 25th against the Marlins. 6 2/3 innings from Ankiel on this day. 11k to 0 BB. Despite what must have been dominant stuff he did allow 7 hits and 4 ER. But that performance was good enough for a W.
June 4th in an interleague matchup against Cleveland. Ankiel took a no decision that day only throwing five innings. In those 5 innings, he struck out 11 of the 19 batters he faced while allowing 5 hits including 2 solo home runs.
Then Sept. 13th at Pittsburgh. Just like against the Marlins, 6 2/3 with 11k and 0 BB. Also 4 runs allowed in a W that day, but this time only 2 were earned.
Now, if you look at the game scores for those games, those were not his best games. In fact, the Cleveland game had the highest game score of the three and that game was only his 16th best of the season.
What if Matheny never got that hunting knife as a gift? What if LaRussa didn't over protect his prized rookie pitcher in the press conference? What Kile had just thrown Game 1? So many what ifs? So much what might have been.
Hopefully, this phenom's career will be the hall of fame career we are all envisioning, and not a case of what might have been.