Cubs' Rizzo celebrates beating cancer by giving back
The tweet from Anthony Rizzo said it all: "8 years ago TODAY I was told I was in remission. I remember crying and hugging my family thinking how lucky we were."
Rizzo, the Cubs' star first baseman, on Friday celebrated eight years of being in remission from limited stage classical Hodgkin lymphoma. Major League Baseball also chose Friday as the day to raise awareness of pediatric cancer.
The 27-year-old Rizzo not only has beaten the disease, but he said he is close to raising $2 million for others through his Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation.
"Sometimes I'll meet some 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds, and it'll hit me right in the head," he said. "It's tough sometimes, because these kids are going to college and their dreams are to do this and that, and they're sick. A lot of the times, I see kids who have had way longer treatments. You just try to be positive. Just try to give them positive reinforcement, that there's light at the end of the tunnel."
Rizzo is a frequent visitor to hospitals and with young patients who come out to the ballpark. Many athletes make visits, but Rizzo's personal stake can make it seem more meaningful.
"Yeah, it does," he said. "And whether they know it or not, about my story, just going there and seeing them smile because I remember the uplift I got when I got to meet Jon Lester when I was going through it. It's cool, and then to see their families, too, smile and say what a big deal it was and now much I helped them it's all part of it."
Cubs pitcher Lester, who also overcame cancer, praised Rizzo after beating the San Francisco Giants 2-1.
"It's a really cool thing that MLB has started doing," Lester said. "It's nice that we're recognizing kids now. This is a serious issue. We've got a bunch of other foundations that we raise awareness for, and now to put the kids forefront, that's really special, obviously a little more special for me and Riz just with or foundations and what we've been through. He did say the other day that I was going to throw a no-hitter on the kids-strikeout-cancer day. It would have been pretty cool, but I'm glad we got the win.
"For me, that's the most impressive thing, the off-the-field stuff, what he's grown into. I met him a long time ago when he was 18 and first diagnosed. Baseball stuff is great, but I like what he's grown into as a man and a person."
Looking the part:
Rookie reliever Carl Edwards Jr. earned his first major-league save in Thursday night's 5-4 victory over the Giants.
Edwards struck out Hunter Pence and got Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik on groundouts.
"He pitched against a really good part of that lineup last night and did it very efficiently," said manager Joe Maddon. "He knew he was the guy last night. He knew we were counting on him, also, which is pretty interesting that he went out there and did what he did. Yeah, that's absolutely a growth moment for him to go Pence, Crawford, Panik. That's pretty good stuff."
Although Edwards admitted to being nervous, Maddon said he liked the pitcher's "look" on the mound.
"If you go to the sabermetricians and number people and they'll think you're nuts," the manager said. "That's the difference. It's a feel. That's the feel part of the game. It's real. It has nothing to do with math. It's just him versus them. It goes back to Little League: They're wearing a different uniform than I am; I've got to get the guys out, mechanics be damned.
"It's not about any of that stuff. It's about me versus him. What it really comes down to when you get to this part of the season and the next month, it's about me versus them. I'm into all that other crunching stuff, but at the end of the day, it's about what's going on inside a person, a really good athlete, that makes a difference."
This and that:
The Cubs are 40 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 1945 season 42 games over, at 98-56 ... The Cubs have won 50 games against teams .500 or better. That's best in the major leagues ... The Giants are 15-29 in the second half, the worst record in baseball during this span.