Rick Ankiel

With all the negative/controversial stories in pro sports, I’d like to highlight one of the coolest of the current baseball season, the triumphant return of Rick Ankiel. He originally broke into the majors in 1999 and pitched a full season for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000, going 11-7. He was a Rookie of the Year candidate heading into the postseason. Things came crashing down in the NLDS against the Braves, including a third inning in which he walked 4 and threw 5 wild pitches. The same thing happened in the first inning of an NLCS appearance, with 5 balls out of 20 getting past the catcher. As far as the coaches could tell, there was no issue with his mechanics so they decided it was all between his ears.

Ankiel bounced between the majors and minors for a few more years, never regaining the command he displayed in his rookie year. In 2005, after a practice session in which he was on target with only 3 of 20 pitches, Rick Ankiel announced he would switch to the outfield. He showed promise with his fielding and slugging, but a knee injury kept him on the shelf for 2006.

Rick again showed improvement as an outfielder in spring training this year, and was sent to AAA to ensure he got a lot of at-bats. Amazingly, he rolled up 30+ homers and went to the AAA All-Star game. Ankiel got his chance with the big show again on August 9th, hitting a homerun in the 7th inning of his first game back. On the 11th, he added two more and added a Grand Slam to win last night. His current statline reads: .328 BA, 5 HR, 17 RBI, .623 Slugging Percentage. It’s an incredible accomplishment, to make the majors TWICE at two different positions. Awesome.

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Gadgets

Images of Airliner Struck by Lightning

The Giz is bringing it today, following up the Jet-Powered Luge with images of a plane being struck by lightning on takeoff. Unreal. I would hate to be watching a plane take off and see that, even if I know logically that it’s safe.

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Gadgets

Jet-Powered Luge Breaks World Speed Record

Crazy man/2006 UK Street Luge champ Joel King strapped a 90,000 rpm jet engine to his luge, reaching a top speed of 112 mph. This is part of the Airwaves Kick It Up program, where they apparently throw large amounts of jack at people who want to ‘Kick up’ what they do to the next level. As we all know, the best way to do that is with a jet engine. It worked for Batman, right? Pics and Video at the Gizmodo article.

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Gadgets

Super-Thin Televisions

Sharp has unveiled ‘experimental’ TVs that are just 20mm thick. That’s around 3/4 of an inch for the rest of us. The gallery at the link has some examples of how a TV that size could be mounted. I WANT.

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Gadgets

Nifty-keen Watch

But watch out for your bank account. :)

Kepler

It’s called the Tellurium J. Kepler Limited, and it costs over $100,000. Only 99 will be made.

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Life

Best Flying Device 1974 Had to Offer

No Arthur, you’re very flying! There was a ‘Rocket Belt Conference’ held at the Niagara Falls Airbase, highlighted by Eric Scott flying around with his jetpack.

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Media

Shirt.Woot Derby!

I felt good enough about something I drew in Inkscape to enter it in Woot’s current shirt derby. My entry is ‘Meat is Off the Menu’, a parody of The Punisher. :D

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Life

Rant: Prefoamed Hand Soap

Prefoaming hand soap is the downfall of civilization. Seriously, when did people get so fracking lazy that they can’t make their own soap foam up? I don’t know about you, but I never stood in front of the sink in the bathroom thinking ‘You know, I’m having a hell of a time getting this soap to foam. I wish someone could do it for me’. What’s next, should we go all Ferengi and have someone prechew our food?

Milestones Met

Bonds, Glavine and A-Rod all took care of business since last I blogged. Well, Bonds tied but has yet to exceed Hank Aaron’s home run total.

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Media

First Babylon 5 – The Lost Tales DVD Released

Woohoo! Babylon 5 – The Lost Tales is out today! It’s already #6 on the DVD sales chart at Amazon, which has the best price I’ve found so far. I must have it!!

Milestone Night?

There are three milestones that could be bested in Major League Baseball tonight. Barry Bonds* goes for 755* and beyond*****, Tom Glavine is attempting to get his 300th win, and Alex Rodriguez is looking for his 500th home run. I’m probably most impressed by Glavine, unlike the incredibly inflating home run totals, 300 wins has gotten harder in his lifetime thanks to the five man rotation.

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Media

45 Best Freeware Design Programs

From classic favorites such as the GIMP and Inkscape to Dogwaffle Free, Terragen and Serif DrawPlus, this is a great collection of freeware Design software. If you want to get going on just about any sort of image editing/creation, but don’t want to shell out the big bucks for offerings from Adobe and the like, you can find something here to fill your needs.