The Rundown: Shooter Would Have Loved Rizzo, Cubs Need to Earn Fans’ Trust, Lindor Concerned ‘Analytics Taking Over Baseball’
“Time is money, money is power, power is pizza, and pizza is knowledge, let’s go!” – Aubrey Plaza
The best non-baseball Cubs news I’ve heard this winter is that Anthony Rizzo has an affinity for pizza now and then. As someone who has earned every single pound of my COVID-19 weight, I totally relate. Nothing wrong with sporting a dad bod whether you’re in Florida, Milwaukee, Chicago, or Mesa.
“I’ll never stop eating pizza,” Rizzo told reporters Monday, the Cubs’ first day of full-squad workouts.
A man after my own heart.
It’s difficult to compare generations, but before the steroids boom last century, baseball players were not what one would refer to as physical specimens. I remember seeing Mark Grace interviewed while he was shirtless and I was taken aback at just how out of shape he looked, much like Steve Rogers before he became Captain America. I can’t even imagine what Babe Ruth, Boog Powell, or Greg Luzinski looked like at the beach. Rick Reuschel and his brother Paul? Wilbur Wood? Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine? No swimsuit models in that bunch.
In the neighborhood where I was originally raised, near 63rd and Kedzie, we had a fast food restaurant called Gossage’s Grill. We used to call their delicious cheeseburgers “Goose Burgers,” not just because the outspoken reliever shared the same name as the establishment, but also because eating too many might push one to maximum density, just like Ol’ Goose himself. The gooey cheese-bomb came with a double order of fries, and for an extra 60 cents you could add a milkshake or malt. The combo could have been called the quadruple bypass extra value meal.
Thinking of the late and great Rod Beck on 4-7 today. #rodbeck #rip #47 #obviousshirts pic.twitter.com/E5TXzn7cJt
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) April 7, 2020
My favorite bad dad bod of all time belonged to Rod Beck. Shooter had that swinging arm delivery, the unkempt mullet, the Fu-Manchu, and a gut that stored more brats and beers than vitamins and supplements. The badass reliever was an original Son of Anarchy and delighted in beating more physically fit batters. It’s not often your closer looks like the bouncer at your local tavern, but Beck was enough of an adonis (cough, cough) to earn 51 saves for the Cubs in 1998.
The legendary reliever probably never saw a salad bar he liked and he may have garnished his daily orange juice with a shot or two of Southern Comfort, but we loved him because he looked like most of us. Though I know I’ll never be mistaken for rock solid Jake Arrieta, I’d be comfortable lounging on the lakefront with Shooter and a six-pack, or even at his RV home aka “Casa de Beck,” may he rest in peace.
After he died in 1997, Beck was buried in his Cubs uniform despite playing just two seasons with them. At his request, the funeral home played “The Dance” by Garth Brooks during his service. Shooter received one last standing ovation.
I’m happy knowing Rizzo is comfortable in his own skin. There’s no shame in keeping a pizza all to yourself, right? Nobody believes that seven deadly sins crap, anyway, and the first baseman’s few extra pounds will probably come off once the Cubs work through a 2021 schedule that is packed with day baseball. We only live once, so we should enjoy ourselves while we’re here, even if it means a slightly expanded waistline and a slower sprint time from second-to-home. The Shooter would be proud of Chicago’s first baseman.
Cubs Mostly Anthony Rizzo News & Notes
- After recently stating that he wants to sit down with each of the team’s pending free agents, Jed Hoyer may see Rizzo as an easy fit for an extension just because the big first baseman loves Chicago so much.
- Rizzo mentioned Fernando Tatís Jr. in a passive-aggressive shot at team owners: “Listen, this game’s doing well. We’re making a lot of money with the product, and a guy like Tatís Jr., he’s exciting for the game.”
- As much as Rizzo would like to be locked up long term, he’s more focused on playing winning baseball and re-earning the trust of Cubs fans.
- Though the outfield is pretty set and Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Báez are infield locks, the team expects heated competition at second base between Nico Hoerner, David Bote, and Ildemaro Vargas. Ian Happ can pay the keystone, too.
- Rizzo had a few things to say about ex-Mariners CEO Kevin Mather after he learned the deposed executive admitted to manipulating service time to control younger players.
- The first baseman also said he didn’t appreciate Mather’s annoyance at having to pay for an interpreter for former Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. Rizzo lauded former teammate Yu Darvish and how he handled his media responsibilities while with the Cubs.
- New left fielder Joc Pederson has a Cubs bobblehead, commissioned by retailer FOCO, which will soon be available for pre-order.
- The Braves claimed recently-released Phil Ervin off of waivers. The Cubs cut the backup outfielder when they signed Cameron Maybin over the weekend.
Odds & Sods
I can neither confirm nor deny that Pirates GM Ben Cherington asked MLB to schedule a few Little League games this year.
“I’m working on our baseball schedule for next season” ~ Charlie Brown — “Get us some games with some real little kids, Charlie Brown, so we can slaughter them…” ~ Lucy van Pelt (Classic Peanuts – February 23, 1969) #MLB pic.twitter.com/oRsCif2Vju
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) February 23, 2021
Spring Training News & Notes
Mariners CEO Kevin Mather has resigned in the wake of comments he made during a recent Rotary Club online event.
The Mariners also resolved their wrongful termination case with former high-performance director Lorena Martin.
White Sox skipper Tony La Russa doesn’t believe he’ll have a problem motivating younger players who may not share the same old-school approach to the game that he does.
Tatís is “hoping to build a legacy” while remaining a member of the Padres for the entirety of his playing career.
The Brewers are the latest team linked to free agent Jackie Bradley Jr. The thirty-year-old outfielder is reportedly seeking a three-year deal in the $30 million range.
Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich and Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado are projected to post big numbers this season. Both sluggers are seeking to rebound from last year’s shortened season.
Reds slugger Joey Votto also wants to get back to destroying baseballs.
Angels DH Albert Pujols will reportedly retire after this season, according to his wife Deidre. The slugger is 41 years old, a 10-time All-Star, and is entering his 21st season in the bigs.
Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor is concerned that analytics are taking over baseball.
Lindor dyed his hair to match his new Mets uniform.
This is fantastic. Bob Gibson was one tough dude, and for good reason.
Bob Gibson on Racism.
"I felt that I had to be better in order to get just as far. And I was determined to do that." pic.twitter.com/vtXeL0vSS2
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 3, 2020
They Said It
- “We’re all professionals. I can tell you Javy’s not going to be negotiating his deal and Kris will not be trying to negotiate a deal or me trying to negotiate a deal. The agents do all the talking and all the work – rightfully so, it’s their job. It’s just making sure everyone’s in the right mindset and focused on the right things. You’re not going to get an extension on one swing this year.” – Anthony Rizzo
- “I think we got to go out and earn it and prove it. I don’t think anyone should [just] believe in it. We haven’t done what we were capable of doing the last few years.” – Rizzo
- “Obviously, everything I love about this city, I kind of wear it on my sleeve, and I still love it. I still love our team. I still love what we have going on here, and keeping everything here inside this building would be the smartest approach for everyone.” – Rizzo
Tuesday Walk Up Song
That’s Amore by Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis – Nothing wrong with a few pizza pies now and then, am I right?