Despite the constant criticisms, heckling over injuries and some sort of perceived ‘softness’ and the ire of some who felt Kris Bryant was a bust after failing to live up to the superhuman standards he set in his first two years with the Cubs, the four-time All-Star was always the epitome of class during his time in Chicago.
With the ink barely dry on his new seven-year, $182 million contract with the Colorado Rockies, at least one thing hasn’t changed: Bryant’s insistence on always taking the high road.
"‘‘You can look at it like, hey, we’re all getting older, so there’s new people coming in,’’ Bryant told the Sun-Times this week. ‘‘That’s the way I’m looking at it. Definitely a different era of Cubs baseball and wishing them the best of luck — just not against us … It’s always a special place for me, Chicago. We loved everything about our experience there, and we’re going to love our whole experience here in Colorado.’’"
Personally, I don’t care whether you like Bryant or not – there’s no arguing the impact he made on the Cubs organization. Four All-Star nods, 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, 2016 National League MVP and World Series champion. Even when you factor in his horrendous 2020 showing, he still finished his Cubs career with a 132 OPS+.
As Maddie Lee notes in her piece in the Sun-Times, it won’t be much longer before there’s no member of that 2016 team left on the roster. That list has already dwindled to just three names: Kyle Hendricks, Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward. I suppose you can include manager David Ross on it, as well, given he was a piece of that roster, too.
With Anthony Rizzo in the Bronx, Javier Baez in the Motor City and Bryant in Denver, what’s undoubtedly been the most successful era of Chicago Cubs baseball during my 30+ years as a fan is officially a thing of the past. As long as they’re not matched up against the North Siders, I’ll continue to root for and support all of them until they hang up their spikes.
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For whatever reason, I always felt like Bryant bore the brunt of fans’ anger – sure, folks got irritated at Baez’ free-swinging tendencies – but he’d turn around and wow us all defensively and all was right and well. So here’s to hoping Bryant finds peace in the Mile High City with his growing family – and that he absolutely mashes while calling Coors Field home.