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...

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  • This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.

    johann 30 min 2 sec ago view
  • CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now. 

    LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.  

    RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.   

    Arizona Phil 38 min 45 sec ago view
  • AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).

    I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):  

    * bats or throws left 
    # bats both

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 6 min ago view
  • Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.

    Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 28 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season  either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.

    Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.  

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 34 min ago view
  • Rob Richardson 2 hours 3 min ago view
  • Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.

    Send Soler down!

    Old and Blue 2 hours 57 min ago view
  • Awesome thanks AZ

    Old and Blue 3 hours 7 sec ago view
  • Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.

    John Beasley 3 hours 49 min ago view
  • Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!

    Hagsag 6 hours 37 min ago view
  • given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.

    i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.

    crunch 7 hours 50 min ago view
  • Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?

    He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.

    My guess? Toronto.

    tim815 8 hours 13 min ago view
  • PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.

    The E-Man 8 hours 19 min ago view
  • Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?

    azbobbop 12 hours 19 min ago view
  • Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.

    Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.

    The E-Man 13 hours 6 min ago view
  • Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.

    While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.

    billybucks 13 hours 40 min ago view