Cubs Mesa Musings: After a World Series victory, there’s no such thing as anonymity

MESA, Ariz. – It was a diamond look with a hint Rodeo Drive.

At least it seemed like Jake Arrieta was trying to hide.

With a dark jersey, flat-brimmed hat and sunglasses, the starting pitcher went through some light fielding work off the mound on Wednesday at Sloan Park in Mesa.

It was a look like some stars have in Los Angeles when they are trying to hide from the glare of superstardom. That usually doesn’t work for them and certainly didn’t for the Cubs starting pitcher. After all, he was wearing a No. 49 jersey with “Arrieta” on the back.

Not that he was trying, anyway. Jake knows better after what’s transpired since November 2nd of last year.

“The beard for me kinda gives me away,” said Arrieta when the word “anonymity” was thrown around during his interview session on Wednesday. “I was able to fly under the radar for a couple of weeks without facial hair but it came back pretty quickly.”

That might have been the case a year ago after winning the Cy Young Award following an incredible 2015 season. Winning a World Series championship has only increased his star power with those in Chicago and Cubs fans around the country as apart of the group which snapped the franchise’s 108-year championship drought.

It’s not just the likes of Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant or Jon Lester who are easily recognized by the rabid fan base. Reserves, relievers and rookies have found themselves catapulted into high status thanks to their role in Windy City sports history.

“I stayed in Chicago for like two more weeks and that was a special moment,” said catcher Willson Contreras, who won the title in his rookie season. “When I went the mall, went to eat and they’d recognize me, they’d congratulate me.”

Pedro Strop says he’s had the same kind of experience. Before 2015 you might not have recognized the pitcher if he was not wearing his hat a bit off to the side or showing emotion on the mound. That’s no longer the case.

“I can’t hide no more,” said Strop. “People know me more.”

Especially when the 31-year old pitcher, who joined the Cubs in 2013 from Baltimore along with Arrieta, goes out with his wife and kids. Attention is everywhere he goes – and it’s more of a positive then a negative.

“It’s awesome to see our fans happy,” said Strop. “You can see their smiling. When you see them and you’re like ‘I helped those people smile like that.’ So it feels really good.”

Still Strop may not get the attention of an Arrieta. But even he knows that his hopes of staying anonymous now are just a little better than another one of his teammates.

“Kris (Bryant) can’t go anywhere without getting recognized with that beautiful hair and being six-foot-six,” said Arrieta. “It’s a little hard to stay hidden if you’re him.”

Or anyone that put on a Cubs’ jersey last year and continues to do so now.