For the second consecutive month, a Chicago Cub has shown up in the perforated panel included within the pages of Sports Illustrated for Kids. Working for a school district does have it's advantages. Last month, Kris Bryant made an appearance on the sheet, hot off of his selection as the National League's Most Valuable Player. This month, another MVP has been honored with his own SI card:
World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, that is. Gosh, it still tickles me that the Cubs have a World Series MVP. I'd say this free agent signing worked out pretty well for Chicago.
The image used for the front of the card appears to be after hitting a key double in the postseason; however, it isn't the 10th inning double that won the Cubs their first World Series in over a century. As we know, Game 7 took place in Cleveland and Zorilla is sporting the home pinstripes on second base. So, let's do some sleuthing and see if we can figure out when this image was captured.
First, a quick glimpse of the back - just in case they made mention alongside his biographical information and vitals. It doesn't appear to be included in the text; that said, it does make specific mention of his WS winning double for the Cubs and his four doubles to help push the Royals over the Mets last season. The man is a two-bagger machine.
To Baseball Reference!
One thing I noticed in this picture is that Zobs has a "Postseason" patch on his right sleeve; therefore, this photograph was snapped before the Cubs clinched their first pennant since 1945. With that in mind, in both previous rounds of the playoffs combined, Ben smacked three doubles, only one of which was at home. It immediately followed these key plays:
After Montero and Fowler nearly caused a joyful destruction of Wrigley Field in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS, Zobrist continued the rally with a bases-empty double. No runs were scored on the play (and I can't even track down a video of it); however, after what had just happened moments before, I think we can all understand why he's so fired up on the photograph in question. I know that I was too.
It's a shame they cut the top of Zobrist's head off though - it seems like some careful re-positioning or re-sizing of the image could have prevented that partial decapitation.
Of course, the Illinois native wasn't the only athlete included in the January issue - a full panel comes with each monthly:
SI for Kids is famous for the diversity of subjects and sports that they include on their card panels. I mean, where else can you find trading cards of collegiate volleyball right side hitters (Kelsie Payne) or LPGA rising stars (Ariya Jutanugarn)? That said, you get a fair amount of "traditional" sports, as well. However, the variety is the spice of life, after all.
Not many of these names move the needle for me, though the star power is there - D'onta Freeman is a pretty good running back prospect Kawhi Leonard is a bonafide NBA star and Bobby Wagner finished the 2016 season as the NFL's leading tackler, while being named to his third straight Pro Bowl. With all that being noted, it was a different card that caught my attention:
An Auston Matthews rookie makes for an awfully nice get - he is the only player to ever make his debut in the NHL with a four goal performance. Eat your heart out, Connor McDavid! I don't collect much hockey, outside of Chicago Blackhawks cards, but this one definitely brought a smile to my face.
Overall, I'd say this was a pretty neat panel. However, to this Cubs homer, any panel that includes a Northside baseball player has an unfair advantage. This is especially so when that sheet features the World Series MVP, doubles machine, Ben "Zorilla" Zobrist; it really enhances the "flavor."