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The Phenomenon is the story of how St. Louis Cardinals prodigy Rick Ankiel lost his once-in-a-generation ability to pitch - due not to an injury or a bolt of lightning but to a mysterious anxiety condition widely known as "the Yips". It came without warning in the middle of a playoff game, with millions of people watching. And it has never gone away.
Yet the true test of Ankiel's character came not on the mound but in the long days and nights that followed, as he searched for a way to get back in the game. For four and a half years, he fought the Yips with every arrow in his quiver: psychotherapy, medication, deep-breathing exercises, self-help books, and, eventually, vodka. And then, after reconsidering his whole life at the age of 25, Ankiel made an amazing turnaround, returning to the Major Leagues as a hitter and playing seven successful seasons.
This book is an incredible story about a universal experience - pressure - and what happened when a person on the brink had to make a choice about who he was going to be.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By hunger games GC on 05-10-17
Huge fan, narration was choppy
I am a bit bias. I have only owned one professional player's jersey in my life and it is the authors. I love the story and how he came back. That said his reading was a bit choppy, in 3-4 word burst. Of course I really like it when an author reads his own story because it makes it "personal." I would recommend this book (and already have).
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By LSmith on 07-14-17
Great baseball memoir
Any additional comments?
In October 2000, Rick Ankiel felt like he was on the top of the baseball world. He was considered one of the best young pitchers in the game and was on the mound for a post-season game against the team he cheered for as a boy, the Atlanta Braves. In the third inning, a seemingly innocent wild pitch led to even more of them and he had to soon thereafter be removed from the game. That led to even more wildness and Ankiel was in the fight for his baseball career. But that fight was an internal one and how he handled that is chronicled in his recently published memoir.
When I saw that Ankiel was the narrator of the audio version, I decided to listen as I always believe that hearing the author tell his or her story lends an air of credibility to the book if he or she sounds honest. That was certainly the case here as Ankiel comes across in both words and voice as completely honest. While he had a difficult childhood by seeing his father treat his mother badly, he doesn’t blame that or any other external reason for his sudden loss of the ability to throw a baseball where he wanted.
When Ankiel subsequently underwent surgery on his throwing arm and still did not have success, the reader or listener will be surprised at how he decided to change from being a pitcher to an outfielder. Even though I knew the story behind his decision to change and his subsequent work to learn a new position, I believed this was the most inspiring part of his story. Late in his career, he played in another post-season game, this time for the Braves and he hit a game-winning home run against the San Francisco Giants.
He also spoke honestly about his name appearing on the Mitchell Report, the report written by former senator George Mitchell on his investigation in the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. Ankiel states that he took human growth hormone while recovering from his surgery and at the time, he checked if it was a banned substance in the game. He stated that it was not at the time (not until 2005) and therefore he decided to use it. There was no defiance, no bitterness at being listed on the report – just stated as a matter of fact.
This statement is in line with the rest of his book – narrated as just what happened without a lot of emotions, regrets or anger. It was an audiobook that I enjoyed listening to and would recommend this book, either print or audio, to baseball fans who enjoy memoirs or a good comeback story.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful