Anthony Rizzo rises from the dead like The Undertaker before all-important Cubs series

Mark Townsend
Yahoo Sports Contributor

The doctors said Anthony Rizzo would be in a walking boot for up to one week.

Chicago Cubs fans feared his season might be over.

Wait a second... is that The Undertaker’s music?

The Chicago Cubs first baseman channeled the WWE icon by making a surprising return to the lineup for Thursday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, which the Cubs lost 5-4 in 10 innings.

The return came just four days after Rizzo suffered a sprained ankle that seemed destined to derail the Cubs postseason plans. Rizzo even walked to home plate while the ominous Undertaker theme played in the background. And in typical Undertaker fashion, Rizzo delivered a bone-shattering choke slam in the form of a game-tying home run.

Many were comparing Rizzo’s return to that of Willis Reed, who dramatically returned to help the New York Knicks win Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals despite suffering a torn thigh muscle.

The stage wasn’t quite that large. The scene wasn’t nearly as dramatic. Also, the Cubs lost. Nonetheless, the last-minute addition of Rizzo to the lineup provided an undeniable boost to the spirits of the team and the fans.

The Cubs need now more than ever. With Thursday’s loss, they fell to four games behind St. Louis in the NL Central standings. That means the remainder of this weekend’s four-game series could be make or break in terms of winning a division title.

Anthony Rizzo returned to the Cubs lineup with a bang. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

There’s a wild card spot at stake as well. The Cubs will enter the weekend one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL’s second wild card. That shows how little margin for error Chicago has. To not have Rizzo, the team’s anchor on offense and defense, in the lineup would make that fine line even thinner.

Rizzo is not one-hundred percent. He might not be again the rest of the season. But he figures if he can walk, he can contribute. We saw that to be true on Thursday. But how much he can offer and how much the Cubs need might be too large a gap to fill.

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