Once viewed as the cornerstone of a budding Chicago Cubs dynasty, Kris Bryant fell out of favor with many last season – but is now healthy and ready to rake.
After an offseason of inaction, posturing, politics, rumors, free agent forgoing and off-field troubles, Chicago Cubs fans and players were irrepressibly pining for Feb. 23. Taking on the Brewers at Sloan Park in Mesa to open things up in Cactus League play, the Cubs sent fans home happy.
To borrow a line from the great Mark Twain: it looks like the reports of the Cubs’ demise this offseason have been greatly exaggerated. It also looks like the reports of Kris Bryant‘s imminent decline were just a wee bit premature.
Plagued by a bum shoulder for most of 2018, Bryant wasted no time firing back at cretinous critics, bandwagon bleacher bums and the myopic media both with his bat and his mouth. No, seriously, he legitimately fired back at all of the above in his comments to the media following a 2-for-2 performance in his first spring game of 2019, including a home run in his first at-bat.
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Talking to the media, the 2016 NL MVP seemed excited for the upcoming season to begin, and I got the feeling that he did not particularly care for some of the comments he read following last year’s injury. If there were any worries from the front office, teammates, coaches, media or fans about his shoulder heading into 2019, he summarily dispelled them all with one flick of the bat this weekend. Now, it seems, the only shoulder-related news fans will have to talk about is how much of the offense Bryant is shouldering and how big the chip is from the countless barbs he felt during 2018.
Is the perceived slight (or more than a slight it seems) from fans and the media something that could spur Bryant on to another MVP season?
Sports is the ultimate slight-driven world, with bulletin board material and trash-talking a part of just about every sport and player’s world. Will Bryant use the static he heard while unable to play at 100 percent last year (or play at all) in a Jordanesque way, fueling his way back to the top?
We already know that Bryant is a guy who hasn’t encountered a ton of obstacles in his baseball life. We’re looking at a guy who won the Golden Spikes Award, then Minor League Player of the Year, followed by National League Rookie of the Year, and ultimately NL MVP in consecutive years. Oh, and the year he brought home Most Valuable Player honors, he also helped the Chicago Cubs win a World Series championship. He has enjoyed nothing but success his entire baseball life. After suffering through his first tumultuous season ever, will Bryant look for any possible slights to add to the gargantuan chip on his shoulder as he grinds through 2019? We can only hope, if it means a bigger, better, and healthier Bryant.
Hey, it certainly worked for MJ…
If this is the Bryant that Chicago Cubs fans will see in 2019, it will go a long way to solidifying the offense and galvanizing the clubhouse in an “us against the world” mentality that seems to be morphing into reality given some of the rumblings out of Cubs’ camp (Think PECOTA bulletin board material). Also, to be 100 percent honest, I sorta like the gruff and brazen ballplayer who shoots from the hip and the heart. First shot fired onto the berm in left field.
You know what else would go a long way in helping us win in 2019: Jason Heyward line drives that don’t get caught! Wasn’t it nice seeing a leadoff hit from Heyward and a bomb from Bryant to start things off after a miserable offseason? It seems, my friends, the demise of the Cubs in 2019 was most definitely exaggerated. Hope springs eternal in the heart of every Cubs’ fan in February.