There's no way Kris Bryant can be prepared for the Wrigley zoo

SHARE There's no way Kris Bryant can be prepared for the Wrigley zoo
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There is nothing poor about Kris Bryant. Not his incredible baseball skills. Not his substantial bank account. And not his ability to deal with pressure.

But poor Kris Bryant.

He makes his much-awaited, much-heralded debut for the Cubs on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field in front of a group of fans that only expects everything. Not right away, perhaps, but eventually.

I’m sure he thinks he knows what will greet him, but unless you have lived and died with this franchise, unless you grew up with always having the football pulled out from you, a la Charlie Brown, you have no idea of the ardor directed by Cubs fans at the Next Big Thing. It’s not an overstatement to say that Bryant is the Next Biggest Thing. So much is attached to his arrival. So much hope and expectation. So much certainty: Kris Bryant, with a combination of power and pure hitting stroke, is going to eventually lead the Cubs where they haven’t been since 1908.

Declarative sentence.

No pressure, kid.

Is it unrealistic? Oh, absolutely. But that’s where we are — at a crossroads that includes a proven president in Theo Epstein and a

digital world in which everyone knows everything about baseball’s No. 1 prospect, including the map of his freckles. To which your everyday Cub fan says, And what marvelous freckles they are!

I’d preach restraint to those people, but I know it’s futile. Much is expected of those who have been hyped this much. The Cubs brought Bryant up from Triple-A as soon as they possibly could, in terms of service time, because they believe he’s the real deal. They also are going to tell you to let the third baseman breathe, but you’re going to ignore that, as well. Hard to blame you, given the buildup.

The best thing he’ll have going for him Friday will be the empty bleachers while Wrigley undergoes renovations. Maybe the old ballpark won’t feel as packed as it normally does. Hey, I’m looking for soft landings for the kid.

Something tells me he’s eventually going to be just fine in terms of dealing with the attention. It’s all he has known since the Cubs made him the second overall pick in the 2013 draft.

But Friday will be ridiculous, with the spectator-to-TV-camera ratio figuring to be about 4-1. If you don’t get interviewed outside Wrigley before or after the game, you aren’t trying hard enough.

I’m sure there have been bigger debuts at the ballpark, but for the life of me, I can’t recall them. All the noise is making it hard to think.


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