What Might Have Won’t: The Matt Rizzotti Story


I recently asked the last question of a live chat with Philled In‘s David Hale, and it was surprisingly productive and without exclamation points.  The pressure was on, after Bill Baer had just asked one of his patented “intelligent questions” that probably spiked his traffic by a billion, as usual.

But I had been curious about the topic of Matt Rizzotti prior to the chat, so here I was, alone with my keyboard with a guy answering questions who actually gets to go the Phillies games and talk to the players.

So I asked if the only way Rizzotti would ever see daylight in a Phils uniform would be in a “Ross Gload” role; a bat off the bench without the defensive skills to warrant everyday use, forever blocked by a perennial All-Star at first base?

I forget what Hale said, but it was along the lines “Yeah, probably.”

Meanwhile, Rizz hits a home run so hard his bat explodes.

Exploding Bat Syndrome is no reason to instantly promote a guy to the Majors.  Its probably a better indication that a guy should be promoted to the intensive care unit.  But my curiosity for Rizzotti’s predicament stems from more than just recent success.

The guy has played everywhere in our system, from the Gulf Coast to Lehigh Valley, and everywhere in between.  If a team has a “Phillies affiliate” (Why don’t they just fucking say “aphillieate” already?  It writes itself and they can’t act like they don’t shamelessly abuse the ‘ph’ thing) tag on its website, Matt Rizzotti has been featured in a game recap on it.

But never has he appeared as a defensive fill-in; never has a backwards-bending knee or horrifically shattered pelvis made his presence in Philadelphia suddenly essential.  In fact, its starting to look like he ay never get here for any reason, no matter how disgusting it is to watch on replay.

"“Defensively limited as a first baseman and tailor made for the American League.”–John Nalbone, The Trenton Times"

That’s exactly what I did not want to hear, John Nalbone.  This was after a night when Rizz went 3-for-5 with a HR.  He has the third highest batting average in the Eastern League.

Is it even accurate to call him a “prospect” anymore?  Is there anything “prospective” about his future with the Phillies?  No.  Its one thing to say Ryan Howard blocks him on the professional level; that’s like a giant man breaking into your house and swallowing your future.  But to have to explain to friends and relatives that Jeff Larish is also a big reason why you aren’t at the peak of your profession raises a hole host of new questions.  I would assume that meant Jeff hit somebody with his car on their way to a job interview.

But no!  No, Matt Rizzotti’s fate has all but been resigned to mid-season of this year, when he will at least be shoved on stage in front of other team’s representatives and forced to dance and preen like a prostitute.  AND NO ONE DESERVES THAT.  Least of all the Eastern League’s third most dangerous hitter.  And it’s tough to accept that an offensive powerhouse within our bowels–in an era that seems increasingly defined by failure quarantined to the batter’s box–will spend the most professional nights of career in another team’s uniform.

Either that or he’ll be “backup-Ross Gload” for the only team in the league who employs a “Ross Gload.”