As part of my tireless and ongoing efforts to boost our educational system this summer, I’m eagerly carrying forward the work begun this spring by Dr. Buck Showalter.
No, not the Changing Pitchers and Overseeing Matt Wieters' Sore Elbow Part.
The Knowing Your Organizational History Part.
You might recall that the Orioles manager creatively asked Josh Hart, a 19-year-old prospect, to write a one-page report on Hall of Famer Frank Robinson when the ex-Orioles MVP was in camp and Hart couldn’t quite place him during spring training.
With Dr. Showalter on sabbatical from the university for the summer, it is left to Professor Miller to again step in with the second in an occasional series: Better Know Your Organization. Now, a few weeks after All-Star Torii Hunter aced an exam on the Tigers, big Anthony Rizzo cheerfully squeezed himself into one of those old-school desks with his pencil case and erasers.
And heads-up, Cubs fans: Turns out, this exam comes with a cool guarantee. Starting...now.
Scott Miller: As everyone knows, the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. True or False: They will win one before you leave the organization?
Anthony Rizzo: True. Of course. Every player is going to say that. No doubt about it.
Miller: Wrigley Field is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Do you have any relatives who are 100?
Rizzo: No, no relatives who are 100. One was closing in, but she passed away a few years ago. No relatives are 100.
Miller: So Wrigley is the closest thing to you that is 100?
Rizzo: Yeah. I don’t think things are supposed to last that long.
Miller: Tinker to Evers to Chance was: (A) A famous Cubs double-play combination, (B) A poem by Franklin Pierce Adams, (C) A song by Chicago songwriter Chris McCaughan, (D) All of the above.
Rizzo: I’m going to say A.
Miller: Partially right. It’s all of the above.
OK, here’s a softball: Name three Cubs Hall of Famers.
Rizzo: Ernie Banks. Billy Williams. Fergie Jenkins.
Miller: Perfect. True or false: When Ernie Banks used to say, “Let’s play two!” Billy Williams punched him in the nose.
Rizzo: [Laughs]. Uh, I would say a lot of people would say that’s true. But it’s false.
Miller: Good. Have you ever seen Billy Williams angry? About anything?
Rizzo: No. I haven’t. He’s a great guy.
Miller: All right, you’re rolling now. Have you ever met Steve Bartman?
Rizzo: I haven’t. He’s around somewhere. I think the whole organization wishes he would come back and kind of put that to rest. Hopefully he will.
Miller: Have you ever seen a billy goat grazing on the ivy at Wrigley Field?
Rizzo: Not yet. We’re looking into buying a baby billy goat, though, maybe for the clubhouse one day.
Miller: How are the burgers at the Billy Goat Tavern?
Rizzo: Never been there.
Miller: The late Ron Santo, whom we all loved, was famous as a player for jumping up and doing what with his heels?
Rizzo: Clicking them.
Miller: Your general manager, Jed Hoyer, has acquired you twice: In San Diego [in a trade with Boston] and in Chicago [in a trade with the Padres]. If he takes a GM job in Japan, would it be your plan to immediately begin learning Japanese, just in case?
Rizzo: [Laughing] As long as they sign me for as much money as they signed [Masahiro] Tanaka over here.
Miller: OK, 1983, the famous Lee Elia rant. He was the Cubs manager, people were booing and he ripped into Cubs fans. In that rant, he said that 85 percent of the world works for a living. What did the other 15 percent do?
Rizzo: I don’t know. No idea.
Miller: He said they come out to watch day baseball in Wrigley Field. The fans who were booing the Cubs that day, in Elia’s rant, where did he invite them to kiss his butt: (A) The Billy Goat Tavern, (B) WGN Studios, (C) Right downtown, (D) Harry Caray’s.
Rizzo: I’d probably say right downtown.
Miller: You got it. Perfect. Now, Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, legend has it that Babe Ruth did this with Cubs pitcher Charlie Root on the mound: (A) Got really drunk, (B) Ate 25 hot dogs followed by two Cubs infielders, (C) Called his shot, (D) Took Charlie Root’s wife back to the hotel.
Rizzo: [Chuckles.] C, called his shot.
Miller: Name the last winning pitcher for the Cubs in a World Series-clinching game.
Rizzo: No idea.
Miller: Orval Overall, Game 5, in 1908 against the Tigers.
Rizzo: I don’t know.
Miller: Which of these did not play for the Cubs: Paul Popovich, Hippo Vaughn, Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown or Willie Mays Hayes?
Rizzo: I don’t think Willie Mays ever played for the Cubs, did he?
Miller: Willie Mays Hayes. I’ll give you a hint: He was a character in the movie Major League. OK, here’s another one: In the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris plays hooky from school and spends part of his day at Wrigley Field. While there, what does he catch?
Rizzo: A foul ball.
Miller: In the movie the The Blues Brothers, Elwood Blues uses as his fake home address “1060 West Addison.” What is really there?
Rizzo: Wrigley Field.
Miller: Kerry Wood tied a major league record by striking out 20 batters in a game in 1998. Which team was that against?
Rizzo: Ooooohhh. The Braves?
Miller: The Houston Astros. Are you surprised it would be the Astros?
Rizzo: They were good back then.
Miller: The first night game ever scheduled for Wrigley Field was 8/8/88. What happened?
Miller: Excellent. You do know your Cubs history. OK, Hack Wilson was a Cub when he set the all-time RBI record in 1930. How many runs did he drive in?
Rizzo: No idea.
Miller: If someone nicknamed you Hack, what would you say?
Rizzo: Thanks, I guess.
Miller: Growing up in Little League, all the teams you played for, did you ever play for the Cubs?
Rizzo: I did. When I was in Little League, one of my teams was the Cubs.
Miller: And how did your Cubs do?
Rizzo: We always won.