In 2012, the Chicago Cubs front office completed a trade with the San Diego Padres to begin the Cubs' rebuild. Little did fans know that the front office found the nucleus, their leader, who would help guide the Cubs to a World Series title.
Anthony Rizzo hit his 201st career home run on Thursday, but the home run was his 200th as a member of the Chicago Cubs. This puts Rizzo in elite company, making the first baseman only the ninth player to hit 200 home runs in a Cubs uniform. This accomplishment is incredible and further cements Rizzo's legacy as a Chicago Cub.
Before the Cubs...
Anthony Rizzo began his baseball journey as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2007. Rizzo was drafted in the sixth round of the player entry draft by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Before his career could get off the ground, Rizzo battled Hodgkin's lymphoma in April of 2008 and by the end of 2008, he was in remission.
After the 2010 season, Rizzo was acquired by Jed Hoyer in San Diego and spent the 2011 season with the Padres. Rizzo struggled with the Padres and bounced between the minors and majors. However, in 2012, Rizzo's career would truly begin.
Changing the Franchise Forever...
The Chicago Cubs, under the Epstein regime, acquired Anthony Rizzo in January 2012. At the time, the Cubs (arguably) best pitcher Andrew Cashner was going the other way. Many fans were skeptical until Theo affirmed the fanbase that Rizzo would, more or less, become the face of the franchise.
Anthony Rizzo was the first piece of the rebuild, and quite possibly the most important piece. Rizzo has been considered one of the "pillars" of this team according to Theo Epstein in one of the many books about the Cubs rise to becoming World Champions. Rizzo has also been called the "Main Ingredient" by manager Joe Maddon in the "omelette" that is the team. Without a doubt, Rizzo is the leader of the Cubs.
What is this Team Without Rizzo...?
It's a valid question, what is this team without Anthony Rizzo? This team is likely still a solid club, but there is little chance that the Cubs would be where they are without Anthony Rizzo. He embodies what every fan loves about baseball players both on and off the field.
Anthony Rizzo is the definition of what you want your favorite player to be. He's great off the field. He visits hospitals, raises money for cancer research, and is an all-around model citizen. On the field, he is an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, a Platinum Glove winner, and a consummate professional.
Congratulations to Anthony Rizzo on 200 home runs in a Cubs uniform! There is little doubt in my mind that number 44 will someday fly on the foul poles at Wrigley Field.
Featured Photo: David Banks/Getty Images