During last night’s NLCS game, Dodgers’ center fielder Joc Pederson came about one comment away from being thrown out of the game. After being rung up on a borderline strike three call, Pederson gave the home plate umpire an earful, arguing that he should have earned a walk. Clearly home plate umpire Angel Hernandez was feeling generous, because what would have been an easy ejection during the regular season was only a stare-down in a game that mattered that much.
What the camera didn’t show as clearly took place a few innings earlier. During an at-bat in the fourth inning by Cubs star and leader Anthony Rizzo, strike 2 was called on a borderline 3-1 pitch. Rizzo, thinking it was ball four, dropped his bat and began to walk to first base. Upon realizing a strike had been called, he came back, picked up his bat, and proceeded to club a massive home run.
The TV broadcast crew showed footage later on of Rizzo’s next at bat. In it, you can hear a conversation between Rizzo and Hernandez in which Rizzo gives a heartfelt apology for showing up the ump. They share a nice chat, all was forgiven, and Rizzo continued on to have a massive slump-busting night.
These games are the most intense part of the year. Every pitch counts, and both teams are playing like there is no tomorrow. For Pederson to get upset is absolutely normal, understandable even. For Rizzo to keep his cool and behave like such a class act shows just how special he is.
I won’t buy or wear a t-shirt or jersey for players who cheated or committed crimes. I will only represent people who are worthy of the admiration we give to our sports heroes. In the sports world, there are plenty f people who do not live up to the standards set before them, who do not uphold the values of our society. After last night’s game, and after seeing the entire body of his career, I am reminded that I’ll never have to worry about my Anthony Rizzo jersey. I’m proud to be a fan of a player who respects the game and all who make it possible, and a team that has chosen him as their leader.