Rozner: Do Nationals really lack respect for Chicago Cubs' Rizzo?
Twice in three games, Dusty Baker had a chance to walk Anthony Rizzo in a crucial situation.
Twice in three games, Dusty Baker pitched to Anthony Rizzo in a crucial situation.
And twice in three games, Dusty Baker paid for the decision in a very big way.
Disrespect? No. It's just bad managing.
The video of Rizzo screaming "Respect me!" Monday will live on in Chicago Cubs' annals regardless of how this postseason concludes, and it makes for another romantic Cubs tale.
But seriously, does Rizzo actually think the Nationals don't know he's one of the smartest and most dangerous hitters in baseball?
Of course they do.
He was fourth in MVP voting in 2016, fourth in 2015 and 10th in 2014 for a last-place team. He's averaged 32 homers, 99 RBI, 94 runs and an OPS of .910 the last four years.
It's nonsense, actually, but the Rizzo legend has only grown with the latest chapter in Cubs playoff history.
And it has a bit of a Michael Jordan, imaginary-insult feel to it. Jordan used to make up stories about players disrespecting him so he could get fired up and drop 45 on them.
Maybe Rizzo's doing it for that purpose, to get himself angry, because there's not an ounce of disrespect here.
"You hate to put extra men on base at that point in time in the game," Baker said of his decision in Game 3. "We decided to pitch to him. You couldn't have thrown a ball in there any better than he did. So that was the game."
Rizzo ought to be happy the Nats are pitching to him. You know he'd prefer the chance to hit than not.
So what's this about?
"It's the mentality I take always with the base open," Rizzo said after his game-winning hit Monday. "I want to make guys pay.
"I hit where I hit in the order. I drive in runs, and that's just the mentality that I always take in.
"Usually, I keep that stuff behind the scenes, but my emotions got me there.
"I believe I'm a really good hitter. I believe I'm one of the best hitters in the game, and you have to believe that. There's a lot of power that comes with that."
There is great power in that and no one can deny it works for Rizzo, but it also breeds some contempt around the game for what is a growing perception that the Cubs are an arrogant group.
There's good reason for it. They have some blatantly arrogant players.
If you're the world champs and you can back it up, you can flip your bat on a walk or a single like Willson Contreras and there's not much anyone can say about it.
Besides, arrogance without entitlement is merely confidence, confidence in yourself and your teammates and a belief that you're going to win out in the end.
The Cubs are far from entitled.
They're the defending champs and they're intimidating, especially when they pitch the way they've pitched in this series with Washington.
There's never any question about how hard they're going to come at teams even when they're behind, but if they're going to get this kind of starting pitching they become a frightening proposition for the rest of the game.
"We feel good," Rizzo said. "We've got to be in attack mode. There's no relaxing just because we're up in the series.
"Tomorrow we have a chance to seal it up here at Wrigley Field, and I expect our fans to be insane, just like they always are, and we'll be ready to go."
And Rizzo will be right there leading the charge -- angry and insulted the entire way.
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