For this Chicago Cubs fan, Anthony Rizzo made Oakland trip unforgettable

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

I was in the Wrigley Field bleachers earlier this summer when Anthony Rizzo ground out a 14-pitch at-bat in the first 100 percent capacity Chicago Cubs game since 2019 and sent the packed house into a frenzy, launching a home run into the seats against the Cardinals.

To say it was something I’ll never forget is putting it mildly. Of course, at that time, I had no idea the clock was ticking on Rizzo’s tenure on the North Side – and knowing that now, it only makes the memory even more lasting.

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So sitting in the seats at the Oakland Coliseum during my ongoing vacation in the Bay Area last weekend, I couldn’t help but be reminded of that at-bat when Rizzo, who much to my wife’s dismay wasn’t in the lineup that night, came off the bench to hit for Tyler Wade in the top of the seventh with the Yankees trailing 1-0.

Donning my Obvious Shirts Forever 44 shirt in the left-field seats, I drew more than a few quizzical looks from the scattering of A’s fans in the area when I gave Rizzo a standing ovation after cheering for Oakland the entire game to that point. The three-time All-Star dug in and turned in one of his signature gritty ABs.

After going down 1-2 early against left-hander Jake Diekman, Rizzo evened the count up at 2-2 before fouling off three consecutive pitches from the Oakland left-hander. Another ball pushed the count full and on the next pitch, Diekman missed badly with a sinker and Rizzo shot it the other way through the legs of Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chpaman, tying the game at 1-1.

He took second on the throw to the plate, which wasn’t close, and was visibly fired up. Watching him, I couldn’t help but think, “Yep, that’s what he does.” In the scorebook, it went down as an E5 and that’s all fine and dandy. But Rizzo did what few big league hitters in today’s game are even capable of – pushing back, grinding and flipping the script of an at-bat.

After getting off to a hot start with his new team, the former Cubs first baseman had been mired in a deep slump. In nine games after returning from a bout with COVID-19, Rizzo was batting just .161/.229/.194 – which prompted Yankees manager Aaron Boone to give him that Sunday off.

But as we all know, Rizzo isn’t a guy who’s often down for long, and he rewarded Boone’s faith late in that ballgame with what can only be called a professional AB. The Yankees wound up losing that game when another former Cub, Tony Kemp, hit a rocket into the right field seats and Andrew Chafin closed it out for the A’s – but the one thing that kept running through my mind was this.

Next. Anthony Rizzo shows how the Cubs disrespect their players. dark

That’s Rizzo.