Bad News Mars Happy Story

Only hours after Rick Ankiel powered the Cardinals with two homeruns and 7 RBI in a 16-4 victory, questions arose as to what was powering Ankiel.

According to the New York Daily News, Ankiel and minor league teammate Steve Woodard received eight shipments of HGH Signature Pharmacy in Orlando from January to December 2004, including the brand-name injectable drugs Saizen and Genotropin. Signature is the pharmacy at the forefront of Albany, N.Y., District Attorney David Soares’ two-year investigation into illegal internet prescription drug sales, which has brought 22 indictments and nine convictions.

“This is the first I’ve heard of this,” Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty told The News on Thursday. “If it’s true, obviously it would be very tragic, along with everything else we’ve had happen to us this year.”

There is good news, however. According to the Signature records obtained by The News, he stopped receiving HGH just before Major League Baseball officially banned it in 2005.

Unfortunately, the timing of the news could not be worse. Ankiel just had the best offensive day of his pro career, and has been one of the “feel good” stories in baseball this summer for his remarkable comeback and transition from pitcher to cleanup hitter. Instead of basking in the afterglow of his 7-RBI game, Ankiel will instead be heading for cover as the media hounds him with HGH questions.

It’s absolutely possible that Ankiel has been completely clean and natural during this amazing summer. But, does it matter? Can anyone look at his 2007 season and not have at least a shred of suspicion? Additionally, can we look at ANY baseball player without having that bit of doubt in the back our heads?

Shame, the things we have to consider when watching a baseball player perform. It would be nice to sit back and enjoy the game. The current section of baseball history is not unlike the the years surrounding 1919 — where you have to question whether any player is “on the level”.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.