9:46 AM CDT, June 27, 2012
Roger Waters. Brad Paisley. Finally, Anthony Rizzo played Wrigley Field.
Side note: Official scorer Bob Rosenberg just ruled that “The Wall’’ was triple-platinum instead of a three-base error.
Anyway, the good news is, Rizzo didn’t embarrass the Cubs the way the Cubs embarrassed themselves with that abomination across the outfield grass left by the concerts. The sod was fixed for this homestand, and so, it appears, was first base. Fixed for a long time, Cubs fans hope, and when have the hopes of Cubs ever gone unmet?
Yes. Well. Moving right along . . .
The new looks in the outfield and infield were just a couple of the good things that came out of Rizzo’s Cubs debut against the Mets on Tuesday. As you would expect from Stevie Sunshine, I found others:
*Rizzo met a massive media throng and handled it flawlessly. He even made fun of himself and his painfully delayed delivery to a pathetic baseball team worthy of the most futile franchise in sports history: “I was the ‘savior’ last year,’’ Rizzo said of his .141 average for San Diego, which is bad even for a Padre.
*Rizzo’s honest answers to a series of pregame questions suggest he has learned how to learn. That’s a vital ability for big leaguers because they’re not going to succeed on talent alone when everybody has major league talent, give or take some Cubs. The comment that told you most about Rizzo’s mature insight was his admission that even while he was tearing up Triple-A he was getting away with some bad habits that would get him killed in the bigs.
*The Cubs’ victory moved them a half-game behind the Padres for being only the second biggest joke in the majors. Ha, and you didn’t think the Cubs would be in a race this season.
*Rizzo batted third with discipline and poise, which is why Starlin Castro will never be there again. Rizzo made contact during every at-bat, which apparently was such a shock for a Cubs prospect that Alfonso Soriano remained mesmerized enough to get hit by pitches twice.
*The left-handed slugger showed he will be a threat to hit for average as well as power by going the other way like a veteran. The error that was preposterously changed to a hit in the first inning? That came on a ball aimed at shortstop. The single that was preposterously ruled a double after Rizzo advanced on a throw in the fourth? That came on a ball to left-center after working a deep count. Actual big-boy teams have a lineup full of this, but the Cubs have to start somewhere.
*Rizzo’s debut almost made you forget that Randy Wells can’t pitch in this league, even for the Cubs. I mean, when you make people yearn for the good ol’ days of Chris Volstad, you’d better learn a trade, pal.
*Cubs corporate wonks put more effort into producing “Rizzo 44’’ shirts than a professional outfield, but Rizzo gives fans a new choice of Cubswear and a new line in the ad campaign says: “Baseball is better when you can hide the stink.’’
*Cubs fans did not give him a standing ovation. Well, not all of them, anyway. You over there, sitting down: Good for you. You can always stand later for a legitimate reason, such as when the official scorer rules that Rizzo’s warning-track flyout leading off the seventh inning Tuesday will be changed to a grand slam today.
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