NEW YORK — Anthony Rizzo has been a Yankee for all of 106 games of his 12-year career.
But he knows this much about the Yankees’ generations-old winning culture and the Cubs’ recent flirtation with building one of those:
“All the big markets have plenty of money to spend, so, yeah, a team like the Cubs should be competing every single year.”
The Yankees took the best record in the majors into Friday’s series opener against the Cubs as Rizzo spoke at Yankee Stadium.
The Cubs not so much — as they endure a second multiyear rebuild in a decade, first since Rizzo became the first cornerstone piece of the last one.
New York improved to an MLB-leading 42-16 with a 13-inning win over the Cubs Friday.
“At the deadline [last year], when they made their moves, it was clear to see the direction that they wanted to go in, temporarily,” said Rizzo, who was among nine veterans traded in a roster purge last July. “And coming here was an amazing opportunity [for me], to come to a team that was contending.
“The atmosphere and culture here is amazing. I think signing back and creating what I feel is an even better atmosphere in this clubhouse and this culture with such a rich history is special. Us being in first place definitely helps, but I think just all the little things that go into it has been a lot of fun this year.”
Certainly, baseball life has worked out a lot better so far for Rizzo than the Cubs since he declined their extension offer before last season, got traded to the Bronx and then re-upped on a two-year, $32 million deal.
The way Rizzo (and some other ex-Cubs) see it, a huge-revenue team like the Cubs should have been able to better sustain the foundation for success that the recent core built — if not exactly like the Yankees and Dodgers, maybe along the lines of the Red Sox.
When asked if the Cubs should be competing consistently every year like the Yankees, he said:
“Yeah. It’s better for the game. When the big teams are playing at a premium, it’s just better for baseball. It’s better for the overall experience when you turn on the game and it’s the Yankees-Red Sox, and we’re battling for first place in June but it seems like it’s October. That’s good for baseball.”
And that’s where the big markets have the power to better sustain that, and should, he said.
“There will be years like this where last year we had a high payroll there and sold; and this year they signed some guys and have a … good team. It’s not like they’re just going to roll over,” he said.
For one night, the Cubs played the Yankees toe to toe, even in a loss.
“It’s just a different year than the normal standard that we created there over the last six, seven years,” Rizzo said.