‘Grandpa’ David Ross well-suited to turning around the Cubs

David Ross, Chicago Cubs. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
David Ross, Chicago Cubs. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs are bringing former catcher David Ross out of the broadcast booth to be their next manager

The Chicago Cubs will have a familiar face in their clubhouse next season.

David Ross, former catcher for the Cubs who helped the team win the World Series in 2016, is being hired as the club’s next manager, news that was first reported on Wednesday by David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago.

Ross retired after the 2016 World Series following a 15-year Major League career. Since 2017, he’s been an analyst for ESPN. He has no prior managerial experience. So why him?

Because there might not be another candidate better suited to connect with the players in the clubhouse. Ross wasn’t a regular in the Cubs lineup the two seasons he spent there, but his leadership and presence were felt just the same. His teammates nicknamed him “Grandpa Rossy,” as the then 39-year-old with the prematurely graying beard looked old enough to be the father of some of them.

He was beloved in the clubhouse and had the ear of every player on the roster. That’s just what the Cubs need right now to come back from a disappointing 2019 season.

The Cubs entered the season with World Series aspirations but went just 84-78, an 11-game dropoff from the previous year. They missed the postseason for the first time since 2014 and manager Joe Maddon’s contract was not renewed.

The Cubs’ core from their World Series year is still very much intact. Still there are the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez. They remember Ross’ home run off Andrew Miller in Game 7 against Cleveland in the final game of his career as the Cubs went on to win the franchise’s first championship in 108 years.

They know how he served as a mentor to the younger players on the club back when he was a player winding down his career. The Cubs couldn’t have found another managerial candidate who has the trust of the clubhouse like Ross does.

Ross isn’t alone in making the jump from the broadcast booth to big-league manager with little or no previous experience. Alex Cora went from television analyst to bench coach in Houston for one season before being hired in Boston, where he won the World Series in his first season on the bench. Aaron Boone, like Ross, went straight from the booth to manager of the New York Yankees and has guided them to the postseason each of the past two seasons.

The Cubs have every reason to believe Ross can replicate that success. And with the players who won a World Series ring with Ross just three years ago still on the roster, “Grandpa Rossy” has a good chance to do just that.

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