Love Letters From Pronk is an ongoing series where Pronk shares his love for somebody connected to the Cubs. Sometimes funny, sometimes weird, sometimes touching, Pronk likes to make 100% sure people know that they are loved, and best expresses that through gushing letters. Today's recipient: Cubs Legend Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo is my favorite baseball player of all time, with apologies to Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, Kris Bryant, Aramis Ramirez, and Javy Baez. I loved watching all of those guys. But Anthony Rizzo is my favorite of all time. He's top of the game in terms of talent, awareness, entertainment value, personality, and heart. Whether it's hitting home runs, catching fouls off the tarp, being funny with reporters, saying hi to fans while walking Kevin, or visiting hundreds of sick kids in the hospital, Anthony Rizzo exceeds any and all expectations that you can have of a baseball player.
He has great stats, but that's only part of the story. Anthony Rizzo has a great brain for baseball. His awareness and ability to make heads up plays in every facet of the game separates him from any other baseball player I've ever seen.
He's my favorite of all time. This love letter has been a long time coming.
You are a fun baseball player to watch. Every game you play, you are always entertaining, especially with your glove work- there is the tarp catch, the constant stretches for throws, the crashes on bunts, the heads up plays. It's fun watching you in the field.
Moreso, you are known for your bat. The timely hitting. The year in and year out consistency. The big home runs. I could talk for hours about how great of a player you are. But that isn't what makes you special. What makes you unique to the game and separates you from everyone else is your head. Your mental skills on the diamond are far and away better than anyone I've ever seen play. That's why I love watching you so much.
Your awareness is a big part of what makes you so much fun to watch. My favorite Rizzo was the magic slide, where you were about to be tagged out by a slap tag. Instead, you pulled your lead leg back, and the tag totally missed. The mental awareness to think of that and execute it perfectly, is completely off the charts. It's the biggest example, but also just one example of many.
One thing I appreciate about you is your authenticity. When the tragic Marjory-Stoneman shooting happened, I really appreciated seeing you go there and just be a part of the community. You left baseball right away, just to be present with a community that was hurting. You didn't pretend to be an expert on laws or policy, nor did you angrily try and blame others. Instead, you just said that you are just a ballplayer, and opted to use your presence to help heal. I have a lot of respect for you for not doing what nearly all other celebrities do. Instead you were boots on the ground, trying to inspire those around you to be the best they can be. That makes more of an impact than any forced speeches ever could.
Most importantly, thank you for the outreach and impact you've had in the community. Your family foundation has touched the lives of many. I've had a handful of contacts with cancer stricken kids over the years. Every time I'm talking with their families, I ask if they've heard of the ARFF. I figure if they haven't, that ARFF could make an impact. But they always say yes, and with a smile share a story of how ARFF has done something for them. ARFF has been there for so many needy kids. That's not a story I can share about any other athlete or any other charity. You've made a huge impact. I'm happy to donate to ARFF every single month, because I know it contributes to a greater good. The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation has more direct impact in my community than any other non-profit I've ever seen (and I've seen plenty).
I know you can't play baseball forever, and I'll really miss you when you are gone. You are one of a kind.
P.S. I named one of my dogs after you. This is Rizzo: