When it comes to new hope and a growing empire for the Cubs, Wrigley Field isn’t the only thing getting an erection. No, even in the face of the phantom menace of unmitigated futility, there is some excitement about what this team is doing. It’s hard not to get a little tingly when thinking about the possibilities for the Cubs moving forward.
If I learned anything from 80’s, it’s that you need a face man, a figurehead or mascot of sorts. But Anthony Rizzo is like a whole A-Team wrapped in one; he’s Face, Hannibal, and B.A. Baracus all rolled into one. Who knows, he might have some Howlin’ Mad Murdock in him too. And I pity the fool who don’t agree with me.
Rizzo is a cancer bashing, home run smashing, foundation cashing, smile flashing phenom. In a word, he’s dashing. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s from a big market that has been largely devoid of a recognizable baseball star in quite some time.
To that end, Rizzo has a pretty good shot of moving on in MLB Network’s Face of MLB bracket, a 30-man bracket-style to determine who best represents the league. For those of you wondering about the un-bracketable number in question, David Wright and Buster Posey received first-round byes.
Rizzo appears to have a relatively easy path to final four, though his first matchup is a doozy. He’s paired with the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, a man who’s got a head-start of several years in terms of national exposure.
But I’ve got to believe that the lure of the Seahawks Super Bowl berth will draw the attention of a nice portion of the shiny object crowd. Cubs fans, on the other hand, have been doubly galvanized by the rah-rah spectacle of the Convention and the passing of legend Ernie Banks.
If Rizzo is able to dethrone King Felix, he’ll move on to face the Royals’ Alex Gordon. Gordon is certainly the face of KC, but of MLB? Nah. After that would the winner of Jose Altuve/Sean Doolittle vs. Yadier Molina/Paul Goldschmidt.
As poetic as it might be to see Rizzo take on a Cardinal or a fellow slugging 1B, I’d like to have Altuve make it a couple more rounds. While they only go head-to-head in a digital arena, the incongruous pairing of the lofty lefty with compact contact machine would be like watching Gulliver in Lilliput.
Should Rizzo move on from there, however, things are going to get even more difficult. That’s because the top half of his side of the bracket features Cy Young and two MVPs. Someone from among Clayton Kershaw, Buster Posey, and Mike Trout will emerge as the likely favorite to win it all. My money’s on Trout.
To find out who will be moving on between Rizzo/King Felix and other matchups, check out Hot Stove on MLB Network at 9am EST. Oh, and if you’d like to vote in this or future matchups, you can do so on Twitter by using #AnthonyRizzo and #FaceOfMLB (not #FaceOfTheMLB; you might call it the Twitters, but I don’t think anyone calls it the Major League Baseball).
And just think, by next year the Cubs might have to hold their own internal bracket to determine who gets to represent them to the world. They’ve gone from a team without a face to a veritable hydra of know commodities; let’s just hope Hercules isn’t hiding out in St. Louis.
After holding a healthy lead into Tuesday evening, Rizzo was defeated by 8 percentage points, 54-46. So much for my shiny-object theory. I wish I could say that I’m mad, but I’m really just disappointed. I mean, if any city in America knows how to fix a vote, it should be Chicago.
Has the Windy City gone legit? Maybe everyone in Seattle simply voted for their guy as many times as Beast Mode repeated that he was only at Media Day to avoid a fine. Either way, no Skittles for Anthony Rizzo. So much for that dream matchup with Altuve.