Rizzo suggested later that his magnificent bloop, which had a 29 percent chance of dropping in according to Statcast, was punishment for Washington’s foolhardy decision to induce a harmless-looking bit of contact.
“I want to make guys pay,” Rizzo said. “I hit where I hit in the order. I drive in runs, and that’s just the mentality that I always take in.”
Nationals Manager Dusty Baker, who made the controversial decision to pitch to Rizzo, still seemed unable to process how much the slugger had invalidated his choice by softly landing a feeble blast where the fielders weren’t.
“Well, yeah, I guess,” Baker said, when asked about Rizzo turning it on in the postseason as demonstrated by a seeing-eye popup that traveled many yards past the infield dirt. “I mean, it’s not really turning it on when you bloop one in there, you know what I mean? So that ball is kind of in never-never land out there, between three merging players on our team. Like I said, you couldn’t have thrown the ball any better if he had thrown the ball in there.”
“You know, he blooped the ball in there,” Baker also offered, when he ought have been writing an apology note for failing to show Rizzo the appropriate respect. “It was a clean hit but it was a blooper, and I thought that we had a chance to catch it.”
Chicago media members, at least, recognized the majesty of Rizzo’s mighty swat, which an above-average left fielder would likely have caught.
“Just remember to respect him,” wrote columnist Rick Morrissey. “He’s watching.”
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Rizzo’s extraordinary blast — which one writer described as a duck snort — was that he managed to author it despite his wonderment at the folly of it all. A lesser player might have been so paralyzed by the disrespect shown that he’d be unable to deploy a spinning quail into the shallow outfield.
“What are you thinking in that moment?” Rizzo was asked after the game.
“I’m thinking don’t pitch to me right there, to be honest,” he said.
Left unsaid: If the Nationals don’t respect Rizzo in the future, he will rain fire on them again, perhaps by tapping the ball with so much spin that it rolls to a stop between three infielders.
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