Last night was likely the final start of David Ross’ career, and – depending on how the rest of the series shakes out – possibly even his last time playing the game. Either way, it was definitely his last game at Wrigley Field.
But at least it was an exciting one.
Starting behind the plate like he has so many times with Jon Lester on the mound, Ross had quite an eventful six innings on Sunday night.
He nailed a would-be-base-stealing Francisco Lindor at second base in the top of the sixth, he hit an (eventually decisive) RBI sac fly in the fourth, and he (sort of) made a couple of foul ground catches with some help (and some hurt) from his buddy and first baseman, Anthony Rizzo.
Let’s take a look back at some of the natural baseball oddities that occurred in front of the visitors’ dugout at Wrigley Field last night.
First, with one out in the top of the second inning, Ross and Rizzo connected on one of the most quintessential 2015-2016 Chicago Cubs plays I’ve seen.
A foul ball popped up near the Indians dugout, and Ross made his way over, frantically trying to put some leather on the ball with the wind swirling. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite put enough on it, and the ball bounced right out of his mitt. Fortunately, Rizzo was doing his job exceptionally well, and came over for the assist:
It’s difficult to describe how I felt in that moment – and it was certainly muddled by the solo homer that followed – but that play put me at ease, in a strange way. Rizzo and Ross making a difficult play look harder, but making it fun and getting the out in the process – all at Wrigley Field … it felt like these were our Cubs. The ones we were used to seeing, the ones that seemingly disappeared for most of the World Series, were back and having fun on the diamond.
Joe Maddon’s expression sums it up perfectly:
I call it, “Happy Disbelief.” And in case you haven’t seen this yet, that play is eerily similar to this catch from the 1980 World Series, with Bob Boone playing the part of Ross and Pete Rose as Rizzo.
But that wasn’t the end of the Rizzo/Ross adventures at Wrigley Field.
Two innings later, another pop-up off the bat of Mike Napoli took Ross into foul territory on the first base side, and, considering what happened last time, Rizzo made his way right back over to see how he could help. Only this time, Rizzo didn’t offer as much assistance as extreme impediment:
I am positive that Ross is a tough guy – you don’t make it 15 years as a backstop if you’re not – but Rizzo is a big dude (6’3″ 220 lbs), and he was barreling towards him with no plans on using the brakes. That crowd noise must have been deafening. Even still, Ross stayed focused and didn’t plan on letting his friend bail him out once again, even after he was knocked over.
In a postgame interview, Rizzo had some nice things to say about Ross and his (likely) final start ever.
The reverence and respect is so obvious out of Rizzo’s mouth, it’s quite clear how much that guy means to him.
The Cubs will be without Ross on the field next season, but for at least one more game he’ll be on their bench, cheering them on, and preparing to contribute in any way he can. The Cubs, meanwhile, will be working on giving him the best send off imaginable.