It was already going to be a little odd for the Cubs’ new manager.
It’s a very rare thing that a former player takes over his team as a manager in such a short window of time, but David Ross is up to the challenge. Everyone agrees, and he was already showing it in Spring Training, at least from my perspective.
Still, you’re talking about a guy who retired at the height of this very same group’s success – he was carried off the field of Game Seven on the shoulders of his own players – trying to take over as a rookie manager when the group has not seen that same success since. Throw in the fact that he was taking over for arguably the most successful Cubs manager in the last century, and, yeah, it’s odd.
Then things got unprecedented. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything for everyone, which means that Ross is not unique in having to be a manager in the time of Coronavirus. But you combine his newness to the job, his familiarity with the team, the interruption of his adjustment to the job … man, it’s all just so freaking weird and hard.
I won’t say that anyone knows how to handle something like this innately, but I will say that I appreciate Ross’s natural connective skills – he’s open, honest, and guys just want to be around him – at a time like this. He also knows what he doesn’t know, and is ready to ask for help whenever he needs it.
To that end, Patrick Mooney wrote about the situation as it relates to the Cubs’ new manager, and it’s definitely worth your time:
— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) March 17, 2020
“I rely heavily on the group I’m surrounded with — Theo and Jed and all the experience they have,” Ross said last week, per Mooney. “(We) continue to have conversations and listen to MLB and (they’re) collaborating with the players’ union. I try to put myself in the shoes of a player a lot of the times — and how I would like to know as much as I possibly could — so I think that’s where a lot of the conversations have come in. You understand really quickly in this job it’s a lot more than just baseball that you deal with.”
As Mooney notes, Ross’s pre-existing relationships with the front office and many of the players will absolutely help him whenever we come out of this crisis period. Can you imagine being a rookie manager right now with no previous connection to the organization?
We often talk about how a manager’s job involves so much more than the X’s and O’s. The relationships. The preparation. The communication. Getting the most out of your guys. Making sure they understand and apply the information coming from the R&D department. Understanding that they are humans and working with them accordingly. All that stuff. This is really just an extreme version of that skillset. I think Ross, particularly for a rookie manager, is reasonably well-equipped to handle it.
I look forward to hearing from him soon about how he’s working through this period of time.