Rizzo’s warm welcome continues as Nats bring back a familiar face

Chicago, My Kind of Town!
Baseball at Wrigley Field is such a treat. It’s a throwback to the good old days of baseball.

Fans in Chicago are very educated and passionate. With that said, half of the folks are soaking in the atmosphere with one eye on the ballgame. Wrigley has a fun, festive atmosphere.

When Josh Willingham’s first homer of the game on Tuesday shot out of the ballpark and onto Waveland Ave., a fan threw his baseball back on the field. (Of course, it might only have been a batting practice ball that some clown tossed on the field to be funny since it’s a tradition at Wrigley to throw opposing homerun balls back on the field.) Right fielder Elijah Dukes told me that even after hitting his grand slam, the fans at Wrigley didn’t bother him. They appreciate good baseball.

Faces in the Crowd
Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder threw out the first pitch and sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch.

Nats principal Owner Mark Lerner and General Manager Mike Rizzo took in the game from the front row next to the Nats dugout. This was Mark’s first trip to Wrigley Field and he enjoyed the game. Of course it helped that his team exploded for 15 runs and 14 hits against the Northsiders!

Meanwhile, Mike Rizzo was the Mayor at Wrigley. Everyone from Cubs GM Jim Hendry to the visiting players and media had a word for the Nats newest GM. Mike’s Dad, Phil, and many other family members and friends were also at the game. It was special when the Wrigley Field video board flashed a Congratulations to Mike on being named to his new post.

Of course, when Mike was younger, he lived right near Wrigley Field. A graduate of the University of Illinois, the native of Chicago was a very popular man at Wrigley Field and even more popular in the Nats clubhouse after announcing the signing of Livan Hernandez.

Livo to Start on Wednesday
Former Nationals All-Star Livan Hernandez will return to the organization that he played for from 2005-2006 and for which he posted a 24-18 record with a 4.49 ERA in 59 starts.

Those 24 wins make him the winningest pitcher in the five-year history of the ballclub. After Garrett Mock earned his third win of the season, I told him about the acquisition of the former Mets starter, and he said he was excited to have him join the team.

Mock told me he was looking forward to picking Livan’s brain and learning from the veteran pitcher. That, along with his ability to eat innings, is exactly why Mike Rizzo and the Nationals acquired him.