Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo’s New Uniform Recalls Cubs’ Lost ‘Culture’
There were no offers during the Cubs’ offseason. Not to Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez and obviously Kris Bryant.
Despite upbeat speculation, bad reports and loose rumors throughout the lockdown-extended offseason — especially regarding Rizzo — the Cubs had moved on without even a phone call of interest, sources confirmed.
What about all that empty ‘We’re not closing the door’ rhetoric from team officials after the three main league players were traded instead of extended last summer?
“I think it’s just a way to soften the blow,” Rizzo said Thursday before his Yankees opened a four-game series against the South Side White Sox.
Soften the blow?
Fans of the two-time North Side tankers with the 11-19 record are still waiting.
The Cubs never intended to bring any of them back once they were traded. The last offer any of them received was the five-year offer Rizzo got for a pay cut after outperforming the team-friendly deal he played in all nine seasons. previous ones.
And then they left. And with them all that so-called “culture” the Cubs loved to brag about (and still do to some extent).
Culture is one of the most overused and meaningless terms in sports.
But if such a thing as culture – specifically, winning culture – means anything, anywhere in sports, Rizzo’s current team might be just about the only place to find it.
And the Yankees spent over 100 years building it.
The Cubs spent 100 years building something completely different until Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Rizzo, Bryant, Báez, Jon Lester et al arrived. Then, after tanking to round up those players and teammates who would average 92 games a year – and their famous championship – over a five-year period, dumping, unbidding, trading and manufacturing… apologies began.
But through landlord complaints about “biblical” pandemic losses, Epstein’s resignation a year earlier and Hoyer’s cost-cutting mess to clean up, the talk of culture change has persisted.
It doesn’t work that way.
If the big-money Cubs managed to build the winning culture they talked about, they pissed it off with a two-year purge that left them facing a second long rebuild in a decade.
If they raised expectations with their success, it only increases the level of anger among fans who were promised “sustained” success but got a cut-price roster while favorites winners of the World Series Rizzo, Bryant, Báez and Kyle Schwarber have secured $433 million in contracts. other teams over the winter.
Look no further than the Dodgers’ lopsided sweep of the Cubs over the weekend to find out how far they fall from competing with other big-market teams that have taken different approaches.
Look no further than the front of Rizzo’s new uniform to find out how different their so-called culture is from another top-tier income peer.
Rizzo, who re-signed with the Yankees for two years, $32 million, after being traded last summer, now knows the difference.
“I have nothing bad to say about the Chicago Cubs. They’re going to do what they want to do,” he said in a chat with NBC Sports Chicago after a press conference scheduled for Thursday.
There are only three championship players left, and the only Cubs All-Star among them — Willson Contreras — is virtually guaranteed to be traded at this year’s deadline.
What happens to this whole “culture” if they swap out all the productive actors who built it?
“Maybe it’s different,” Rizzo said. “Maybe the culture comes down to something else. Each team has its niche.
“You just hope there are traditions that endure.”
Rizzo wasn’t happy with the lowball offer he received from the Cubs in the spring of last year. He didn’t get as large a total offer as a free agent, but he got more annual value and a team he shared mutual trust with after a slack season impacted by a season-ending bout of COVID- 19.
“Obviously I didn’t have a good last year by my standards,” said Rizzo, the No. 2 free agent first baseman on the market, pointing to the six-year, $162 contract that Freddy Freeman obtained.
“I’m going out and having a normal year, and the money I’d give signing this deal [the Cubs] offered just didn’t make sense.
It wasn’t all about the money, he said. He wanted to come back. May have taken less than perceived market value.
“I was emotionally invested in the Chicago Cubs, as a Chicago Cub,” said Rizzo, who was traded by Epstein to Boston to Hoyer to San Diego and then to both to Chicago before becoming a Cubs All-Star. “I met my wife Emily and we grew up a lot together here. She is emotionally invested in the city, the fans and the Chicago Cubs.
“I’ve expressed it 100 times how much I want to be here for life.”
Things are certainly good now for Rizzo, who plays for baseball’s top team near his parents’ hometowns – his father, John, a longtime Yankees fan who is now a regular at Yankee Stadium wearing his NY cap. .
And the Cubs might even be better than people think, sooner than people think, he suggested — even though Hoyer and the Cubs are already starting to feel like a rebuild at the top of the game mountain twice in such a short time might not be as smooth as the first time.
Rizzo said he was happy with how things turned out in the end. Although he admits to feeling something other than the way things ended in Chicago.
“You just know it’s a business. They had to make tough decisions,” he said in the biggest media session on Thursday. “As a human being, was I upset? Sure. But as a baseball player seeing what’s going on, it’s a business. It’s like that.”
And it was the only “culture” that mattered.
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