Sunday, August 14, 2022

David Ross Expected To Kick Ass At ESPN


Before joining the Cubs in 2015, Ross had stops in Los Angeles, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Boston. A life-long role player, Ross was always liked in the clubhouse for his reputation as a “team first” guy. A hard-working player who played the game the right way, Ross always remained humble but also had an attitude that let opposing teams know not to fuck with his teammates.

Ross became known for both of those qualities throughout his career and his time spent in Chicago was no different. The humble side of Ross was best exemplified during an April game last season in Cincinnati. During the 822nd game of his career, Ross finally accomplished a feat that he’d never done before.

He caught a no-hitter.

The humility of Ross showed immediately following the game. Ross could have easily boasted to reporters about the great game he called and took more credit than he deserved but instead of even talking to reporters right away, Ross requested a picture with starting pitcher (and thrower of the no-hitter) Jake Arrieta to document the historic occasion. Later, when he finally sat down to talk to reporters, he was asked how he felt about finally catching a no-hitter. The humbled Ross replied,

“I feel I didn’t do a whole lot.”

Two months later, the Cubs were playing in Cincinnati yet again and this time it was Ross fighting back to defend the future NL MVP, Kris Bryant. Coming off a game where Bryant hit three homers and two doubles against the Reds on June 27 and drove home the winner in the 15th inning on June 28th, Bryant was drilled in the ass by a 98 mph fastball late in the game by Reds reliever Jumbo Diaz when the game was clearly out of reach for the Reds.

A complete Busch league move that pissed off Cubs skipper Joe Maddon and didn’t sit well with Ross.

When the team got back to Chicago, Ross went on the Mully and Hanley show and let the world know that he had Bryant’s back. When asked his thoughts on the Reds purposely plunking Bryant, Ross stated,

“We got good memories.”

It’s those types of quotes that made David Ross one of the most respected catchers in baseball. His stats have never jumped off the page at you but everyone affiliated with the game knew that Ross was a great “baseball guy” to have on your team.

The Club House Leader

That was the case in 2015 for the Chicago Cubs who were in the market for a “baseball guy” to mentor a team full of guys who could barley legally drink yet.

The Cubs had just signed former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester to a huge contract and were bouncing around the idea of trying to sign Ross to follow Lester to Chicago. The two were teammates in Boston and helped the Red Sox win the 2013 World Series championship so their track record spoke for itself.

The bond between Jon Lester and David Ross has been forged over five seasons, two teams and 100 starts. Their relationship grew deeper in 2014 when Red Sox manager John Farrell paired Ross and Lester together because he liked how Ross handled the Red Sox staff the previous postseason. That pairing evolved into Ross being Lester’s personal catcher for the rest of his career.

They shared one of the best moments of the 2016 season after their last time being at Wrigley Field together.

Lester will be the first to tell you that even though the two are friends, their on-the-field relationship is paramount to Lester’s success.

“He expects so much of you that you want to almost do more to get that approval-from-your-dad-type thing,” Lester said of Ross. “And it just evolved from there.”

We know the rest of the story. The Game 7 passed ball, a home run in his last at bat, World Series champion, and carried off the field. I remember thinking how awesome it would be if someone made a movie about Ross because it’s such a storybook ending.

Life After Baseball

A movie has not been made yet but Ross has already signed on to write a book documenting his time in the MLB. In between writing chapters, the newly retired Ross recently agreed to work as a special assistant in the Cubs front office which is something that he’s never done before.

Besides being a bit nervous, Ross seems raring to go.

“Really it’s just an ability for me to learn. It’s really, I don’t think I’ll be making a whole lot of decisions or I don’t know how much my input will be. But really, I want to just see what’s behind the scenes. It actually will help my ESPN career and see what these guys (do) and how they talk.”

The ESPN career Ross is referring to is a new deal in which he agreed to become a baseball analyst for the network. Unlike the special assistant job, Ross has dabbled as an analyst before in 2014 and 2015. He had such an impact on those broadcasts that the people at ESPN began to actively recruit Ross to join their team full time.

Ross admits that ESPN wasn’t the only network who pursued him but at the end of the day, they were the one’s who “stepped up.”

I don’t know jack about broadcasting but I feel like I’m a pretty good judge of character and Ross exudes all the traits that I’d like to see from a guy breaking down the game of baseball. Hell, even if I wasn’t biased as a Cubs fan and Ross didn’t win it all with my team, I’d still probably tune in to watch him because he seems like a down to Earth guy that I’d probably enjoy having a beer or seven with.

His new colleagues at ESPN would agree with my character assessment of Ross. Hopefully Ross gets to work in some way with the baseball “insiders” because unlike some of the analysts they have, the insiders actually know what the hell they are talking about. That “insider” group appear to be excited about bringing Ross on board.

Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, and Jayson Stark all raved about Ross being the consummate professional and his endless knowledge of the game but it was Kurkjian who summed up best exactly why David Ross will kick some ass at ESPN.

“He’s smart, honest, insightful and, most important, funny. Give me funny any time.”

If history is any indication of how popular Ross will be at ESPN, it’s safe to say that he will quickly turn into a fan favorite from the millions that watch baseball on the network.

I know he’s already mine (and he hasn’t even started yet.)

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