by Elizabeth Rudisill

By now, if you haven’t heard of Anthony Rizzo, you must be living under a rock.  The Cubs acquired Rizzo and Zach Cates in a trade with the San Diego Padres for pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyuong-Min Na on January 6, 2012.  Rizzo was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round on the 2007 First-Year Player draft out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl.

Through June 13th, his numbers are:

244 81 16 1 22 57 .367 .426 .747 1.173

The categories in which he is not on top for the team, Steve Clevenger is, and he is currently up with the big club.  Rizzo also has 20 walks and two stolen bases on the year.  The 23 year old first baseman has committed seven errors, but has played a solid first base for the first part of the season.

Rizzo’s stat line is very impressive and he is no question a rising star.  With this said, the question I pose to you is this.:  What is the difference between being a superstar and being a fan favorite?

Before, after and sometimes even during the games, the majority of the Iowa Cubs players interact with the fans by signing autographs, chit-chatting and finding out where the “hot” spots are in town.  Players (mostly the relief pitchers since the bullpen is directly on the playing field like it is in Chicago) will sign balls, baseball cards, hats, ticket stubs and casts protecting healing extremities until it’s time for them to go to work or wander back into the clubhouse after a long game.  For the most part, they enjoy this and you can see it in their eyes.

I have not once witnessed Anthony Rizzo sign one autograph.  I have not once witnessed Anthony Rizzo interact with a fan.  I have not once witnessed Anthony Rizzo turn his head in acknowledgement when a fan yells his name as he walks back to the clubhouse across the field.  But I digress.

This past Saturday night was the annual MDA Jersey Auction night at Principal Park.  Fans place bids for a player’s jersey and if you are the highest bidder, you get to go on the field after the game and the player will give you the jersey right off their backs and autograph it for you.  I was fortunate to get two of them last year and it was a great experience.  One of the jerseys I got was from Chris Robinson, a long time catcher and fan favorite for Iowa.  Chris stayed on the field and talked to me for a good five minutes after the game.  He knew how much it meant for me to be in that moment.  Saturday, Rizzo’s jersey was auctioned off for nearly $400.00 (highest one).  The gal who bought it had the same opportunity to go on the field to receive her purchase and “experience”.  This is what happened.  She approached Rizzo as he was walking toward the clubhouse and happily “flagged” him down to let him know she was the one who got his jersey.  Rizzo kept walking, taking off his jersey as he was walking.  The gal said something along the lines of hey, I spent a lot of money on this, can I get you to autograph it for me?  Reluctantly, Rizzo autographed it in a split second and handed it to the fan.  Coincidentally it dropped to the ground as she reached for it.  He did not attempt to pick it up and continued heading for the clubhouse.

Is being a superstar or a fan favorite based on statistics or how you carry yourself as a player?  Do you think his actions are justified?  Would you spend $400.00 for a signed jersey autographed by Anthony Rizzo?

He has proven he has the talent to play big league ball, but to me, he’s still not a big leaguer.

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