Although the framing of the article relies on the slightly overplayed “how will he manage is friends” thing, I really did enjoy this piece on David Ross from Jayson Stark.
Lots of interesting notes, behind-the-scenes bits about the relationships at play, and more about the unique perspective Ross can offer former teammates:
“Don’t forget, you used to be my intern.”
New column: David Ross is just the 5th player in the last 50 years to manage a team he just finished playing for. But these aren’t only guys he played with. These are friends he won with. So is that good or bad? https://t.co/vxgjDLGkgx
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) February 27, 2020
One thing I wanted to highlight for fun, though, was the anecdote from Anthony Rizzo, dating all the way back to 2014, months before Ross even initial signed with the Cubs as player:
Anthony Rizzo saw it over lunch. Saw it. Knew it. Felt it. This was the fall of 2014. Rizzo was in Bristol, Conn., doing a postseason guest spot on ESPN when he met a free-agent catcher doing exactly the same thing, some guy named David Ross. They went to lunch. They shared the same agency (Sports One Athlete Management). They connected.
“And I went to my agent (Marc Pollack) after that,” Rizzo says, “and I said, ‘David Ross is exactly what the Chicago Cubs need to take us to the next level. He’s a backup catcher. But (we need) his mind and his approach and his mentality.’”
We know how that turned out. Now here are Ross and Rizzo, together again. The roles are very different this time — “but he’s exactly what we need again,” Rizzo says, “that infectious personality.”
I remember the talk back in 2015-16 about what an important presence Ross was for the team, even if it was hard to see that stuff on the outside, particularly in a sabermetrically-inclined world. But when you think about a young player like Rizzo, on a team that was percolating up but that had yet to compete, knowing in a moment that Ross was the guy they needed? Man, it just heartens me all the more that Ross – regardless of his relationships with the players on the team – is a perfect fit for the Cubs right now as manager.