Are the Cubs ready to finally name Anthony Rizzo a team captain?

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Will an atypical 2020 prompt the Cubs to name Anthony Ri zzo team captain?

Leadership on and off the field has never meant more. You’ve seen what a lack of it can mean this year, with the Major League Baseball schedule hanging by a thread after COVID-19 outbreaks hit the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. Players on both of those teams broke protocol – and it cost their teammates, and others around the league, in a big way.

Now, with the Cubs set to visit Cleveland this week, a pair of Indians pitchers are under fire for doing the same and going out after the team’s game against the White Sox last weekend. After Zach Plesac was dismissed by the team for his actions, Mike Clevinger actually flew with the team – and has since been scratched from his Tuesday start while quarantined. We can only hope there are no negative impacts from the pair’s decision.

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Which circles back to the Cubs – who remain the only big league team without a positive player test this year. A lot of the credit belongs to the organization, as a whole. It’s done as much as possible to keep staff and players safe. But in the clubhouse, the players have come together, holding one another accountable and pushing for continued vigilance.

Leading the charge on that front? Chicago first baseman and three-time All-Star Anthony Rizzo.

Under first-year manager David Ross, Rizzo has been a notably more vocal leader – filling a need in the clubhouse and leading the team to a 10-3 start heading into Tuesday’s matchup with the Tribe.

"“We’ve been getting together more than ever,” Javier Baez told Marquee Sports Network’s Tony Andracki. “Tony’s been a great leader. Obviously we have a couple leaders here. But Tony’s been unbelievable with being around all the teammates, all the young guys and he’s helping me a lot. He’s helping me in slowing everything down at the plate, trying to get a better plan and stick to it.”"

The Cubs have definitely looked like a more cohesive unit this season. Whether or not that’s from the extenuating circumstances games are being played in or a change in leadership with Ross replacing Joe Maddon is unclear. But these guys have each other’s backs and are picking up one another on a daily basis.

Rizzo isn’t just talking the talk – he’s walking the walk. The slugging first baseman carries a .418 OBP on the year, which has been huge for the team with him at or near the top of the order. He’s helped set the table for guys like Willson Contreras. Even without several key players really hitting their stride yet, the offense has been a major source of strength in the team’s first 13 games – nearly a quarter of the regular season.

"“He’s just got a real infectious personality when he’s in a good head space and doing well,” Ross said. “He’s always wanted to learn and grow ever since I’ve been around him. It seems like he’s got a really good outlook on this season. He’s got a good outlook on his teammates and having good conversations in some meetings that I sit in on, really giving some veteran input.”"

For years, we’ve clamored for the Cubs to finally put a ‘C’ on this guy’s chest. I don’t know how you can look past what he’s done for the franchise, especially in these unprecedented times, any longer. I’d love nothing more than to see Theo Epstein at a table with Rizzo seating next to him in the near future, announcing a contract extension and then Ross putting a new Cubs jersey on his first baseman, adorned with a ‘C’ on the chest to make it official.

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It’s time. It’s beyond time. With Maddon gone and Ross in charge, it’s time to make this wrong right and name Anthony Rizzo the Cubs’ team captain.