We’ve talked about the possibility of this very moment for weeks – months, even. Still, I never thought the Chicago Cubs would trade Anthony Rizzo. For years, he’s been the unofficial captain of this team – helping erase a 108-year championship drought and changing what it meant to play for this organization.
For that matter, he changed what it meant to be a fan of this organization. Despite it all, though, the Cubs sent the three-time All-Star to the New York Yankees on Thursday in exchange for a pair of prospects in Alexander Vizcaino and Kevin Alcantara, the team’s ninth and 12th-ranked prospects.
I’ve been covering this team for a long time – 10 years now. And I honestly always felt like we were witnessing our generation’s Ernie Banks. How can anyone embody ‘Mr. Cub’ more than Rizzo, whose story is the stuff of fairytales. Drafted by the Red Sox, overcomes cancer – comes to Chicago after a cup of coffee in San Diego, thanks to the same front office that initially drafted him in 2007.
Then he goes on to lead a rebuilding Cubs team – culminating in a World Series title, three consecutive NLCS berths, multiple division crowns and a complete culture overhaul at Wrigley Field. None of us will ever forget him receiving the throw from Kris Bryant on a rainy night in November 2016, throwing his arms up in triumph and pure jubilation.
Normally, I’m the level-headed, rational fan. This game is, at the end of the day, a business. I get that. But sometimes – and it’s very, very rare – a player’s value transcends just what he does between the lines. This is one of those instances.
Rizzo has long been the leader in the clubhouse and the guy on the diamond who ground out tough at-bats. Seriously, in all my years of going to games, one of my favorite memories was this summer, during the first full capacity game at Wrigley post-COVID when Rizzo ground out a 14-pitch AB and homered against the rival Cardinals.
Chicago Cubs: A bitter end to an amazing journey for Anthony Rizzo
Of course, what we’re all thinking about right now is the fact that neither Rizzo nor Bryant got into Friday’s game at Wrigley for one last ovation. Due to a ‘scheduled’ day off, David Ross kept both guys out of the game.
Now, unlike most fans, I don’t necessarily blame Ross – odds are the front office made sure neither guy played while deals are being worked out – but it’s a brutal look for an organization that is acting like they have the resources of the Royals or Rays rather than a big market club they are.
Maybe Rizzo pulls an Aroldis Chapman this winter and comes back this winter in free agency. But for now, this hurts – a lot. And it’s going to continue to hurt for some time.