We saw the photo session in front of the outfield ivy and the flock of fans thanking Anthony Rizzo after the July 29 trade that sent him to the New York Yankees. But learning the longtime Cubs first baseman no longer lives in Chicago sure tears open old wounds, doesn’t it?
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, Rizzo isn’t a local (he’s from Florida) – and after closing out the year in the Bronx, I can’t imagine coming back to bask in the woes of wintertime in Chicago was at the top of his wish list – not when he could enjoy the weather of the Sunshine State.
But when you consider everything that transpired during his Cubs career, it still stings. Of all the guys who helped erase 108 years of drought on the North Side, Rizzo always felt like the face of the franchise – that one guy who would spend his entire career there and someday join the likes of Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo with a statue outside Wrigley Field.
Instead, tensions boiled over in contract extension talks and, following the trade, a tit-for-tat between Rizzo and the front office took center stage. You can never say ‘never’ but a reunion with the Cubs feels like a pretty long shot at this point.
In the end, the three-time All-Star may very well end up regretting not taking Jed Hoyer up on his reported five-year, $70 million offer. Early reports this offseason suggest teams might be wary to give him more than two years – and at that length, he’s going to come up well shy of that $70 million mark over the next five seasons barring a dramatic return to form at the plate.
No matter what, Anthony Rizzo will hold a special place in Cubs fans’ hearts
Rizzo was the one guy who was there for all of it – the painful rebuild, headlined by a 101-loss 2012 season – and the high of winning the first World Series in franchise history since 1908. His accolades on the field certainly speak for themselves: World Series championship, three-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover, Platinum Glove winner and Silver Slugger recipient.
Of course, there’s one moment we’ll all always remember. Rizzo reaching out toward the skies after receiving the throw from across the diamond on a damp Cleveland night – and giving us all a memory that will last a lifetime.
He may not call Chicago home any longer – but his presence here will be felt for years to come. Anthony Rizzo will be a Cubs legend the rest of his life. So don’t let anyone tell you differently.