Rick Rizzs on Cano’s go-ahead HR: ‘Robbie went up there looking to do something special and he did’
HOUSTON – One of the absolute treasures of my job is the opportunity I get hours before the fans enter the ballpark – before the players take the field for their early work, before most have even turned their thoughts to the game that night – to walk into the broadcast booth and have a quick conversation with the broadcaster.
For years, I would walk into the booth and find Dave Niehaus filling out his scorebook, getting his numbers from a folded up sports page, alone but ready for a quick conversation, often about baseball. Now when I arrive, it’s Rick Rizzs who is in the booth doing his preparation for the game.
Often we talk about what we saw on the field the night before. On Tuesday, it was about what Robinson Cano did in the Mariners’ 4-3 win over the Astros. It was a conversation I wished I had recorded. I did the next best thing and asked if we could chat a little more about the topic of the day because I wanted to share Rizzs’ observations. His context is broad, having covered baseball for the last 41 years. What he saw from Cano in the 11th inning Monday night was special.
“He did what all the great hitters and great players do: they want to be in that situation,” Rizzs said. “He wants to be in that situation. He’s looking to do something early in the count to win the ballgame, to hit the ball far, a long way. If the count goes a little deeper, then he’s willing to hit the ball the other way, he’s willing to take a walk and leave it up to Nelson Cruz. But early in the count, I’m sure Robbie went up there looking to do something special and he did.”
If you were following the game, I would guess your feeling at that point was similar to mine. With the “hands team” – the two rookies in the game for defensive purposes – striking out quickly ahead of him, the A-team bullpen arms already used and Cruz playing with a sore wrist, Cano had to hit a home run. Not a single, not a double – right there, Cano had to put a run on the board.
Simply put, the Mariners’ big guy had to come up big.
“I was thinking that this guy was going to do something special,” Rizzs said. “The game had gone on too long because the umpire couldn’t get out of the way of a line drive, of the only base hit they’ve had in three games with a man on in scoring position. But I watched a guy in the 11th inning in Robbie Cano take it upon himself to pretty much say, ‘Listen, guys, climb on my shoulders. We are going to get it done here.’ And he did.”
“What we are looking at is something special here,” Rizzs added. “We are looking at a future hall of famer. He is carving out a hall-of-fame career with his offense, his defense, the way that he plays the game, the way that he makes everyone better on this ballclub.”
Rizzs compares what he is watching in Cano to what he saw for so many years in Ken Griffey Jr. He believes the two will be neighbors some day in Cooperstown.
“In big games, big players step up and we saw Robbie Cano step up last night,” Rizzs said. “There is no question in my mind, no question this guy will be in Cooperstwon, New York with the career he has put together.”
You can listen to Rizzs talk about Cano here.