Updated: Apr 26
Let me run a couple scenarios by you. First one goes like this: Stephen Strasburg is the definition of homegrown. He was drafted #1 by the Nationals in 2009 and was considered one of the best pitching prospects ever to come out of college. He made his debut in 2010, and a decade after being selected first overall, he brought them their first-ever World Series championship and took home the MVP award in the process.
Let me run another by you: Kris Bryant is drafted #2 by the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Revered as a franchise-altering pick, Bryant flew through the minor leagues making his debut in 2015, after being held in the minor leagues for 11 games. Bryant stormed onto the scene becoming (arguably but not really) the face of Chicago sports, grabbing NL Rookie of the Year honors in his first season. If you thought it couldn't get any better, think again. In year two, he helped the Cubs erase a 108-year-old World Series curse, but a ring wasn't the only hardware he went home with as he was named the NL's Most Valuable Player.
Those scenarios sound similar, right? Unfortunately, they have very different endings.
As the Winter Meetings are taking place in San Diego, the Nationals made one thing their top priority and that was retaining their beloved, homegrown, World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg. What'd they do? They did just that, signing him to a 7-year, $245 million contract, most-likely keeping him in Washington for his entire career. When it's all said and done, only Alex Ovechkin will be loved more in the District of Columbia.
Before I go further, I'd like to say that the Nationals are valued at $1.8 billion.
As the Winter Meetings are taking place in San Diego, the Cubs made one thing their top priority and that was trading away their beloved, homegrown MVP, World Series champion. You may be wondering why on earth a team would do this? Well, it's because the owner says they "don't have any more" money.
Before I go further, I'd like to say that the Cubs are valued at $3.1 billion.
The more this offseason goes on, the more it frustrates me that the Cubs are major sellers. Would I mind selling certain players? Of course not. Would I mind selling a former Rookie of the Year and MVP who helped break a 108-year curse? Abso-freaking-lutely.
Let me run another scenario by you just because you've made it this far. It goes like this: Traded from the Padres in 2012, Rizzo quickly became a fan favorite within the organization for not only his steady bat and craft as a first baseman, but for his tremendous character both on and off the field. Over the course of his time in Chicago, Rizzo has been a 3x All-Star, 3x Gold Glove winner, Silver Slugger, and Roberto Clemente Award winner. If you're unaware, the Clemente award is given to the player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team."
An icon, leader, role model in all aspects of those words, Rizzo has gone above and beyond for his team. How do the Cubs repay him? Hold off on giving him a contract extension because they were, "pretty far apart in terms of length, and so he decided to come out and say that," said Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer.
After all that Anthony Rizzo has done for the organization, the Cubs are questioning how long they want to keep him around. Do they understand Rizzo is trying to continue to build his legacy, and for that legacy to be in Chicago?
Has baseball become so much about excel spreadsheets and statistics that we forget why the sport is so great in the first place? I fully expected the flags with both Bryant and Rizzo's names and numbers to fly on the foul pole at Wrigley Field for centuries to come.
As a fan, I am a little ashamed of ownership. For them to be all about the money, and disregard the people that not only brought them to glory but did it with such high regard, is saddening to me.
I guess it's a little bit fitting that it was those two who recorded the final out of the 2016 World Series.
It's time the Cubs take a page out of the Nationals' playbook and do the right thing.
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