Anthony Rizzo will never have to buy a drink in Chicago again. Possibly in the entire state of Illinois. The power-hitting first baseman will forever be a part of Cubs lore after helping bring a world championship back to the city, and now he’s gearing up for the 2017, with Chicago fans already hungry for a repeat.
We got a chance to talk to Anthony as he was helping to promote the latest installment of the MLB The Show video game. Luckily, he wasn’t afraid to let us know about his love for Taco Bell.
You reached the top of the mountain, and the Cubs finally won it all. You did the thing that everybody wants you to do. You achieved what you are supposed to do. What do you do when it’s all over? Is there any sort of let down, or anything?
No, it’s just very wild being back there again. Now, it’s all about starting over and starting at day one. Preparing what it’s going to take to get there and now we know what it’s going to take to get there, and win it. It’s all about coming together again and blazing the ground.
Do you feel like there’s even more pressure on you now to stay at this level to repeat?
I really don’t look at it like that. I think a lot on us and just go out there and have fun and do what we do. We know we can do it, we know we’ve done it, and to do it all over again.
Did you feel like there was some sort of weight that was lifted off the city, off the fans? Was there any sort of like change that you noticed?
Yeah, I mean, just people being very grateful and happy. Now the whole culture of the Chicago Cubs has changed. In the last few years of expecting to win. Not really expecting the worst but expecting the best now. It’s a good feeling.
I bet. What was that experience like when you got brought onto basically all of the late shows? Was that post win media blitz just completely nuts?
It was, it was insane. Just the opportunity that we had was amazing. It was special. It was a special time that we got to share with a lot of the guys. Things we’ll never forget. Outside of winning the World Series, these are things I will never forget in life.
What was the highlight for you, other than winning the World Series, and the parade. Like what moment stands out to you from afterwards?
I would say definitely Saturday Night Live. Then, going to the Grammys was pretty amazing.
So as far as MLB The Show, how do your skills in the video game compare to your real life baseball skills?
It’s pretty realistic, to be honest. Everyone is just so spot on, the features and the way you move. What you look like, the graphics of all the stadiums it’s so spot on that it’s amazing how they do that.
Is there a video game that you and your teammates play a lot in the clubhouse or on the road?
I know a lot of guys in the clubhouse play a lot. They’ll just kind of cycle through a lot of games. Be competitive with all of them. But I don’t play that much anymore on the road. But [in the] offseason every once in a while.
What’s your favorite video game of all time?
Of all time? Probably Mario, Mario Kart.
You good at Mario Kart?
Yup. I’d like to think I am.
Have you had a chance to check out your batting stance and your swing in MLB The Show? How accurate is that?
Yeah, of course, it’s spot on. It’s spot on, the only thing is I get mad if I don’t hit a home run every time. But it’s spot on, on everything. The way I stand, the cleats, the bat, everything.
Do you remember the first time you saw yourself in a video game? Was that just super weird? What was that experience like?
It’s always weird still seeing it, cause you grow up playing a video game and being guys. You can now play and be the Chicago Cubs and hit with myself. It’s always really surreal when you see it.
Have you ever met the Batting Stance Guy, Gar? Has he ever done your batting stance to you?
I have not.
I want to know a little bit about the clubhouse. Do you have any sort of pre-game ritual, or superstition, or routine?
Definitely a routine. Just kind of doing pretty much the same thing before every game. Taking a shower, start locking in on what pitcher I’m facing. I get dressed. Put my uniform on and pick before the game. Then go out and play.
So you don’t have anything where you have to tap something or pray to Jobu, or anything?
No, no, not yet I don’t.
What is your official stance on bat flipping?
I mean, if you hit a home run, you know. Some guys pose to show up the other team, some guys don’t. It all depends on the scenario really. You know, if you hit a big home run, you celebrate with your teammates, fine. But if you hit a big home run and you kind of mock the other team, then that’s where issues come into play.
So, sort of a fine line and baseball players know where that line is?
I think so. Some do and so don’t. Some pitchers get a little more upset if guys hit a big home run and stare at it a little longer than they quote-unquote should. Then some guys say, you know he just hit a ball 500 feet, how are they going to be mad? Our goal as hitters, is to hit the ball and get on base real fast. Their goal as pitchers is to straight it out.
As far as bat flipping in the postseason … Are the unwritten rules a little bit more relaxed because the tension’s so high? Is it accepted and understood that maybe this is going to happen? You can let it slide a little bit more than like a game in May, or whatever?
I just think you’re more animated. It’s more … Each pitch is more on the line, as opposed to a regular season game. The emotions are higher. The intensity is higher. Obviously, we know what each baseball cost you now and how all these things are playing on the emotion. It’s no different in the playoffs. You get there and you want to celebrate more with your teammates. Everything is just more, you know, hyped up.
Do you have a go-to meal when you’re on the road? I know it’s tough to have that routine, that schedule, when you’re always flying and traveling.
I think it just depends on the different city you go to and where you’re at. Finding the little kitchens there that you want to go to. Everywhere is different.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Chicago?
I really can’t complain about any [place]. I’ve eaten everywhere. I got to say Chicago Cut, they always take really good care of us there. The food’s amazing.
I know as baseball players, as athletes they try and, you know, stick to their diet all the time. But, if you ever cheat and go eat fast food. What’s your go to fast food order?
Taco Bell. Cheesy Gordita Crunches. Love that place. You got to splurge every once in a while.
Have you tried the chicken chalupa?
I have not. I’ll try it next time I go.
Is the etiquette for reclining your seat on an airplane different when it’s a chartered team flight? Is it just like a reclining free for all in there?
I didn’t even know there was etiquette about reclining your seat on a regular airplane. There’s no type of etiquette on a team flight.
Are you a recline guy?
Yeah, but I mean, they’re just regular seats. Going and lounging back there is a basic requirement when you get on every flight.
Got it. My last question for you. Give me your thoughts on David Ross making his Dancing With the Stars run?
I think he did a great job. I told him that, you know, he set the bar a little too high. But, after his first dance, but, I think he’s just going to continue to get better. He looks like he’s having a good time with it. It’s fun to see him have a good time.