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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  • Three amigos? Because the Dominican, the Venezuelan, and the Cuban?

    Maybe the three-headed dragon?

    John Beasley 9 min 7 sec ago view
  • Who says Contreras can't frame? Stone cold robbery of Eaton with that called third strike for the first out in the eighth

    Eric S 40 min 8 sec ago view
  • Three amigos time?

    7-8-9th

    jacos 54 min 58 sec ago view
  • he should hit more of those. that would be an ideal outcome. /moneyballs

    crunch 5 hours 11 min ago view
  • Russell with 19 RBI in July so far. Grand Slams help.

    billybucks 5 hours 52 min ago view
  • ...and Familia with back-to-back blown saves. Blows a one-run lead vs. Rockies today, gets his 2nd consecutive loss.

    I am OK with the Mets missing the playoffs and suffering crushing losses at home --- just want them to beat St. Louis.

    He played with fire twice agains the Cubs -- unfortunately, the Cubs couldn't stop swinging.

    billybucks 5 hours 56 min ago view
  • How about Kyle Farnsworth? I know he was consistently upper 90s.

    videographer 7 hours 51 min ago view
  • If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic

    jacos 9 hours 38 min ago view
  • I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.

    Charlie 10 hours 13 min ago view
  • I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.

    Charlie 10 hours 26 min ago view
  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 11 hours 50 min ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 11 hours 51 min ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 11 hours 57 min ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 12 hours 1 min ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 12 hours 5 min ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 12 hours 13 min ago view