Cubs fans can dream about Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo hitting back-to-back homers for the next six-plus years.
Theo Epstein’s front office has Bryant and Rizzo under control through the 2021 season. That covers Bryant’s age-23 through age-29 seasons. Rizzo won’t turn 30 until a few weeks after the 2019 All-Star Game. The rest of the National League will have to get used to this.
“(Rizzo) jokes around, like: This is ‘The Bash Brothers,’” Bryant said before Tuesday’s 6-1 win over the New York Mets at Wrigley Field. “We have fun with it. He’s just a good guy for me to learn from and watch how he goes about his business. I’m definitely having a whole lot of fun with him so far.”
Bryant and Rizzo won’t have the same attitude as Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire from those steroid-fueled Oakland A’s teams in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They’re way too polite, not edgy enough, more like family-friendly Disney characters. It even sounded like Rizzo — who was born in 1989 — actually might have been making a reference to “The Mighty Ducks.”
Bryant almost hit for the cycle against the Mets, with the 6-foot-5 slugger hustling for an infield single, showing off his speed with a triple and crushing a ball that left fans in the left-field bleachers scrambling for the souvenir.
Bryant certainly isn’t one-dimensional. His long strides beat the throw from Mets third baseman Daniel Murphy with two outs in the third inning. The Cubs didn’t score during that sequence, but it forced 22-year-old flamethrower Noah Syndergaard to throw 18 extra pitches during his major-league debut.
“Any groundball I hit, I’m going to run as hard as I can,” Bryant said. “That’s something I can control. I believe that if you play the game the right way, it treats you the right way back. That’s how I approach the game. That’s how I always play.”
The Cubs are definitely feeling The Bryant Effect.
“He’s a baseball player, man,” manager Joe Maddon said “That’s the thing right there. That’s what you want. You want baseball players, a guy that plays the whole game, understands the concepts of offense and defense.
“The home runs are beautiful. Whatever. But how about the pick at third base? That was a great play. You’re talking about (how) that’s the second time he’s beat out a routine groundball in a week.
“He’s hit balls very far. But it’s a baseball player. Everybody’s always just talking about this guy as though he’s just a power hitter. Whatever. He’s a baseball player and a really good one.”
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Bryant is heating up after not hitting a home run in his first 91 major-league plate appearances, homering in three of his last four games.
“They’re still trying to get the book on him,” Rizzo said, “how you can get him out, where he’s hot, where he’s cold. I just keep telling him: Keep taking those walks.
“If you keep going up there having quality at-bats, like he’s doing, good things are going to come out of it.”
All this the night after Bryant and Rizzo hit back-to-back homers into the bleachers off Jacob deGrom, the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, which set the tone in the first inning of a 4-3 victory over the first-place Mets.
At a time when offense is down throughout the game, the Cubs have hoarded power hitters. Bryant led minor-league baseball with 43 homers last year. Rizzo doesn’t look satisfied with one All-Star selection, putting up a 1.055 OPS so far this season. Maybe this could be Bash Brothers 2.0.