The Major League Baseball play of the season, so far, came the way of the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, Aug. 12, in a one-of-a-kind style that is currently being seen millions of times today all across broadcast televisions and the internet. And the Cubbies have their first baseman Anthony Rizzo to thank for it.
In the sixth inning of last night’s game, the Cubs were 2 to 1 over the Brewers, with 2 outs. With Milwaukee Brewers “catcher Jonathan Lucroy on first base, rightfielder Ryan Braun had hit a pop ball toward the stands on the first-base side” in the sixth inning. What Rizzo did then was worthy of watching again and again. And if you’re a Cubs fan, add in a few more times to see it today will be just fine.
The video accompanying this story, having been seen 500,000 plus times already in the past 12 hours, shows Rizzo’s response to Braun’s high-flyer. Rizzo goes toward the ball, jumps up on the rolled-up tarp near the wall and stretches his 6’3” frame over into the crowd to get the ball. He manages to stay upright long enough to throw the ball back onto the field, which caused the Cubs social media team to name that play, as they tweeted, “Uhhh, Rizzo just made the catch of the century.”
At first, the umpires were going to rule the ball a foul, but the crowd was very, very loud, and so the umps put their heads together and reversed themselves, calling the play an out for Rizzo.
This single play has successfully redrawn attention back to what is one of America’s most beloved teams pursuing a pennant this year, as they have for over 100 years now. This team needs a lot of this kind of Rizzo magic to reinvigorate fans into truly believing that their team is actually a potential contender for the World Series. It’s more than just baseball to a Chicago Cubs fan.
Yes, there are plenty of people in Chicago who follow the White Sox, but not as fiercely, fervently, or passionately as the Chicago Cubs, as evidenced by the crowds, even on rooftops, near Wrigley Field. In the world of college sports, every player wants to be drafted into the major leagues or even sign with the minor leagues so they can prove themselves and get called up to the majors. But Anthony Rizzo’s path didn’t include a stop at the college he’d chosen, Florida Atlantic University, as his bio shows he was drafted in the sixth round out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He spent substantive time in the minors with the Red Sox organization as well as the San Diego Padres. Then when he was traded to the Cubs in 2012, he worked his way up through the minors successfully and in 2014, he had 32 home runs for the Cubs.
The Cubs are a team trying to break the 100+ year dry spell from when they last won the World Series. Some of Chicagoland’s most devoted fans believe their team is actually cursed, but that Rizzo could be one of the main reasons that curse can be broken. “There is no ‘I’ in team,” as the saying go. But there is an ‘I’ in Rizzo. Something equally as important is Rizzo’s work ethic. It’s easy to dream of the major leagues but it takes hard work, dedication, unselfish devotion to your team, and a focus that is relentless to spend as much time in the minor leagues as Rizzo has.
More important than this catch of the century is “in September 2014, “Rizzo became the youngest player to receive the Branch Rickey Award as ‘a strong role model for young people.'” From that same source, Rizzo is a cancer survivor, having beaten Hodgkin’s lymphoma seven years ago. His love of the game and his Cubs spirit and work ethic since he joined the team have never reflected one moment of struggle, one of the reasons he’s such a good role model, especially for high school and college athletes to learn about. In other news, the Cubs beat the Brewers 3 to 2 last night. But with that catch of the century, Anthony Rizzo is truly one to watch for the rest of the season and for a long time to come.