Chicago's Most Wanted Makes Getaway

Be on the lookoput for a white Cadillac Escalade with Florida plates being driven by a young adult male with short hair who was last seen wearing dark, baggy gym shorts, a Miami Dolphins t-shirt and a wide grin.

Anthony Rizzo's last at-bat as an Iowa Cub was almost storybook. He flew deep to the warning track in right-center. I was standing directly above the player who made the catch, hoping the ball would travel a few more feet than it did so I could scamper down a flight of stairs, out a gate and retrieve it. There was no one else in the area with the same idea. Oh well. Instead I strolled around behind the Cub Club atop the leftfield wall and found the homer Josh (JV) Vitters had pounded minutes earlier hitting in front of Rizzo. When I returned from that scavenger hunt Rizzo had been lifted and the inevitable was a reality rippling through the stands.

I spent the rest of the game lying in wait outside the I-Cub clubhouse with a local TV crew and a few autograph hounds. A gopher emerged and drove off in Rizzo's car after loading it with gear. Was it a diversion? Was Rizzo being smuggled off the grounds disguised as a Zooperstar? The gopher returned about half an hour later having apparently washed the car and presumably gassed it up for the five-hour drive to the big leagues.

You'd figure the guy getting the call-up would be anxious to make his getaway. But when Rizzo finally emerged he was maybe the last of the I-Cubs to leave. By then I'd moved my car nose-to-nose with his and got to ask him something while he signed balls and caps as a Triple A'er for what we all hope is the last time. That final at-bat when he went not quite deep enough, did he know it was his last plate appearance as an I-Cub? He said no. "Honestly, I had no clue," he insisted and there's no reason to doubt him. Unless the scoreboard operator who told me Rizzo is usually all business during pregame BP and this morning he was uncharacteristically loosey-goosey, as though he knew a pleasant secret, deserves credence.

As for the game, Vitters drove in both runs in the I-Cubs' 2-1 triumph, their seventh consecutive game against Round Rock as the teams play a home-and-home of four-game series. Jay Jackson, groping for a niche as a middle reliever, fanned the side in the 8th and Rafael Dolis notched the save with a scoreless 9th.

While waiting for Rizzo and feeling like a paparazzo I watched Brett Jackson and Vitters oblige the autograph seekers. As I suspected, Jackson does not rise to his listed 6'2". His hair is as California moppy as Rizzo's is hip-hop close-cropped. Vitters seems slight up close. I've been skeptical of his potential but now that I have a piece of him, maybe I'll cut him some slack. We'll see how he does without Rizzo hitting behind him any longer. Defensively he made his 13th error today but also started a couple of DP's.

Rizzo too appears smaller in person than his prodigious numbers paint him in the mind's eye. But he's thick-legged and, one hopes, thick-skinned too. He'll need to be. Even an approximation of his deeds here won't salvage this moribund season in Chicago. But it would certainly go a long way toward making the next several more promising.

After saying all of his good-byes Rizzo climbed into his white Escalade and I got into my black Accord and followed him out of the parking lot. Our routes were the same for several blocks through downtown Des Moines. When he turned east and drove off into his much-anticipated future I turned west and headed home. Now I gotta go finish mowing the lawn. Rizzo should make Chicago by sundown. He's all yours.

Comments

Thanks, Mike!
Love to read these types of firsthand accounts, especially on such a heavily-awaited day.

Thanks for reading, Jace!

Twitterverse:

Muskat- Sveum's message to Rizzo: "Don't try to carry the team on your shoulders."

ESPN (Padilla)/- Sveum confirms Rizzo will play at 1B every day, even vs lefties to start. Sveum on what he will say to Rizzo: "You're not here to be the savior."

Muskat- Ian Stewart is hitting. Still working on timetable. Dempster threw flat ground.

http://view.ed4.net/v/A0RVJE/DXB50G/KSKTSSR/6...

Blues Brothers Movie night, Friday, July 6th (while Cubs are in NY vs Mets)

R rated film...i remember them...

there's a lot of newer high-budget flicks that could benefit from R rather than PG-13.

the original Bad News Bears was PG. that one might not even make PG-13 these days based on the slurs. yeah, i know the ratings system has been skewed since then...but...*sigh*

Midnight Cowboy was a X-rating without showing intercourse and showing very little unusual nudity (unless you count voight butt)...that time change swings both ways...

per roto...

Pirates released OF/1B/C Jake Fox.
Fox, 29, was hitting just .236/.309/.366 with two homers and a .675 OPS over his first 139 plate appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He'll attempt to latch on elsewhere.

file under AAAA next to J. Dubois

matt spencer (part of the trade that sent him) has been converted to a pitcher...not very well so far in Boise.

jeff gray is doing his usual mediocre/replaceable performance for MIN...at least in the bigs.

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 5:02pm — crunch

matt spencer (part of the trade that sent him) has been converted to a pitcher...not very well so far in Boise.

jeff gray is doing his usual mediocre/replaceable performance for MIN...at least in the bigs.

=============================

CRUNCH: You didn't just realize tonight that Matt Spencer had been converted to pitcher, right?

I've only mentioned it about a hundred times since last September.

And he just got promoted to Peoria this past Sunday.

yeah, im just saying he's not doing very well in boise (and stating where he's at now...plus i left out/forgot ronny morla, who seems to be playing indie ball). it's spencer's first real assignment (aside from spot innings in AAA/AA while he was still trying to be a batter).

i probably should have mentioned the "not very well so far" was 4.1ip, though.

i did miss that he got promoted. sweet. i love a good reclamation project. i wish brooks keishnick the relief pitcher + pinch hitter could have lasted longer...and happened about a 6+ years earlier as a cub rather than a brewer.

tonight's CWS scorecard has "Youklis" playing 3rd and hitting 2nd.

welcome to chicago's south side, dude.

some jerk in LF in MIA just threw a "beverage" all over matt holliday.

whoever threw that is lucky that fence is so high...

mitch williams decided to share his own "beverage" story talking about how he got hit with a beer from a fan, threw a cup of water back at the guy, and the SF police tried to arrest mitch mid-game until it was all sorted.

s.castro draws his 1st walk since Jun 2nd...no, i'm not kidding.

-edit- neither is len, evidently.

since when does t.wood throw 93mph fastballs regularly?

...dat game gun.

He's pumped for ratso!

he just missed a homer by about 30ft wide...so evidently yeah.

damn wind.

also, LOL his batting helmet decal location.

joe mather has switched from #16 to #21 (sosa's old #)...so like...that hitting slump is good as dead.

...and he hits a 2r homer.

screw batting coaches, un-retire some cubs uniform numbers and we're set.

@peoriachiefs: 0-0 after 2nd inning. Baez left game after making a barehanded play in the bottom of the 2nd. Looked like a finger injury.

Cubs lead 2-0 in the 7th.

Cubs will lose because of:
A) Leaving wood in too long
B) bullpen implosion
C) a defensive error
D) marmol'd

shawn camp...aka, B

Cubs will win. Have faith.

And Rizzo will be the piece that will put them over the top.

A) Leaving wood in too long *chuckle*

hah

a triple on a ball hit about 3ft.

that was so awesome.

doh...he got some glove on that...error.

I just wanted to say how much I enjoy Mike Wellman's essays from Iowa. This last one may not rank with "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" by Updike, but someday (I hope) it will be remembered in the same nostalgic/elegaic way.

bless you...

D. wright fail...props to Cardenas for hustling most of the way

lulz...dat mets D.

outs turn into guys on base and runs...2, 3-base errors with 1 out in the inning.

Mets defense just showing off now.

Remarkably none of this involving Cedeno.

...and cue the cedeno error.

Never mind on Cedeno. He felt left out.

Porcello and Castellanos for Dempster, Barney, and Vitters?

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/tigers-porcello-...

I think Porcello sucks.

that sounds absolutely batshit insane for the cubs.

This article was created on the Yahoo! Contributor Network, where users like you are published on Yahoo! every day.

I'm sure the guy with the below 5 K/9 rate and 92 ERA+ for his career is available.

Noooooo Way

I've got a 1.96 ERA for Travis Wood in his last 5 starts, which also happens to be his June splits.

2.70 ERA discounting the wind-blowing-out debacle versus the Padres.

Cardenas optioned to Iowa to make room for Rizzo.

Rizzo to wear #44.

Sampling of Cubs #44 worn by:

Dick Ruthven - 1984
Drew Hall - 1987
Steve Wilson - 1989
Burt Hooton - 1971
Amaury Telemaco - 1996
Dave Giusti - 1977

All NOT to be confused with a 44 on another team from New York...Reggie something, I think...

I was thinking #44 on the Milw Braves. At 1B, McCovey comes to mind.

So it seems like a great choice of # to me, very evocative.

No mention of Chad Fox?

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 10:11pm — The E-Man

Sampling of Cubs #44 worn by:

Dick Ruthven - 1984
Drew Hall - 1987
Steve Wilson - 1989
Burt Hooton - 1971
Amaury Telemaco - 1996
Dave Giusti - 1977

All NOT to be confused with a 44 on another team from New York...Reggie something, I think...

===================================

E-MAN: Not to mention AZ Phil's namesake, Phil Cavarretta.

When I was a little whippersnapper, #44 was unofficially retired for many, many years (almost 20 years) by the Cubs (as was #16 was for several years after Ken Hubbs died), I guess because Cavarretta was considered the last great Cubs player from the '45 Cubs WS team.

That's pretty cool PHIL!

Wasn't Pafko part of the '45 team?

I don't think he's in the same class with your namesakem though.

peoriachiefsPeoria Chiefs

Great news on Baez everything checked out ok. Day to day,

http://www.csnchicago.com/baseball-chicago-cu...

“He’s another player on this team trying to help us win games. He’s going to probably struggle. Young players do. It will be fun for the fans to watch him make adjustments and try to fight his way into becoming a useful big-league player.”

he's got a strange idea of 'fun.'

Jamie Moyer signs a minor league deal with the Blue Jays.

He's heading west !

woo!

Beautiful, Mike.

jeepers...

Thanks for the undercover work, Well-Mann!

Ha! My pleasure...

Recent comments

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  • Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]

    Eric S 50 min 11 sec ago view
  • ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.

    cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/

    crunch 1 hour 24 min ago view
  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 4 hours 20 min ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 4 hours 22 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 4 hours 32 min ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 5 hours 15 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 10 hours 56 sec ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 10 hours 1 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 19 hours 43 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 22 hours 40 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 22 hours 53 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 23 hours 2 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 23 hours 7 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 23 hours 25 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 1 day 2 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 1 day 19 min ago view