Cubs star Bryant appears to have everything going for him
This World Series title changes everything, and 24-year-old Kris Bryant better be ready.
Not only is the Cubs third baseman likely to be announced as the National League MVP soon, but he unofficially has been anointed as the Cubs’ new personality, face and most famous guy anywhere on the planet.
Life as he knew it will never be the same.
That undercover-driver commercial he did for Lyft a year ago, the one where nobody recognized him? Forget about it!
My favorite exchange was the one with a hip young fellow seated next to Bryant:
Passenger: ‘‘I play volleyball. How about you?’’
Bryant: ‘‘I play baseball.’’
That ad was sweet with its humorous innocence. But the Cubs and Bryant are new people now, with fame and glory draping them like capes. Bryant rocked during the playoffs, hitting .308 (20-for-65) with three home runs, eight RBI, 11 runs scored and nine walks.
Of course, during the regular season, he hit .292 with 39 homers, 102 RBI and an amazing 121 runs scored. That last stat — runs scored — tells you much about Bryant’s worth to the Cubs. Not only does he hit for power and average, but he draws walks and always seems to be involved when the offense explodes.
In Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians, he scored twice on some slick and bold baserunning. In the fourth inning, he scored on a sacrifice fly by Addison Russell. His speed and textbook slide enabled him to beat Indians center fielder Rajai Davis’ throw.
In the fifth inning, he took off from first base an instant before Indians pitcher Andrew Miller threw the ball and scored on Anthony Rizzo’s single to right.
What we’ve got here, folks, is a ballplayer, a kid who was made to play this game.
Bryant is a courteous and friendly young man, too. His mouth seems to go into a natural smile, something that reminds one of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a man who always looks happy, even if he isn’t.
But the next time we hear Bryant complain about anything or rip a teammate or a management decision will be the first.
You’ll recall he didn’t start his 2015 rookie season in the majors, so the Cubs could keep him under their control for an extra year. It was a sneaky business deal because Bryant was as ready for the majors as a man can be, but he didn’t bad-mouth anyone, even if fiery agent Scott Boras wanted to nail the Cubs for rigging things and not trying to win.
Bryant praised Cubs ownership while saying of Boras: ‘‘It’s nice to have a bulldog working for you rather than a poodle.’’ By the way, Bryant won the NL Rookie of the Year Award despite not playing his first game until April 17.
Yes, Ben Zobrist won the MVP award for the Series, and it likely was deserved. But if the trophy had gone to Bryant, it would have been hard to complain about the choice. The guy made some terrific plays at third base and, as mentioned, was always in the mix.
So the Cubs are something new now. They have turned in their old costumes, those of striving and perennial failures and runners-up, for the robes of conquering kings. They’re on top now, the hunted and — possibly for some — the hated. They must be careful and figure out how to be champs. How to act. How to defend. How to be gracious.
For Bryant, who walked through the dugout after the champagne flowed, his goggles on his forehead, his left arm around fiancée Jessica Delp, his right hand clutching a half-eaten Snickers bar, life never will be so simple again.
As one of those unsuspecting Lyft riders said, this new guy Bryant was ‘‘projected to be a stud.’’
It has happened. He’s a star. He’s the Cubs.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.