Heroes get remembered, but legends and backup catchers never die. Or so it seems. I am, of course, referring to former journeyman catcher David Ross. Buster Olney proclaimed today that Ross could be the face of baseball. No one really knows how it happened, but Ross – a lifetime .229 hitter – somehow turned into a folk hero, even before the Cubs’ championship. His seemingly unending “victory lap” is now getting out of control.
Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot to like and respect about David Ross. He is by all accounts a great teammate, an excellent leader, and an overall good guy. He is also apparently a student of the game, and I would not mind seeing him come back as a coach or manager. I also don’t think this whole thing is Ross’s fault; I think he is just going along for the ride, and who can blame him? However, I am not sure how we got to the point where his every move is national news.
It all started when the Cubs signed Ross to a 2 year deal before the 2015 season to be Jon Lester’s personal catcher. After playing in 72 games and hitting .176 while (credit where credit is due) playing stellar defense, the then-38-year-old announced that he would retire after the 2016 season. This set off a mock “farewell tour,” which seems like a joke that was taken a little too far. At the time it was amusing, but the “Grandpa Rossy” caricature took on a life of its own. When his 100th home run was national news, I was confused. It’s a nice personal milestone, but it was blown way out of proportion.
I’ll admit that Ross’s game 7 home run was an unforgettable moment. However, painting a guy that had only 5 AB in a 7 game series and hit .200 in the 2016 playoffs as a hero is ridiculous. Does he deserve credit for being an outstanding defensive catcher and leader throughout the Cubs’ World Series run? Yes. Does he deserve recognition for a long, fairly successful career? Yes. However, the attention he is getting from the national media is officially out of control. Celebrating Ross as a Chicago hero after playing a combined 139 games in two seasons with the Cubs is annoying, but understandable. The “farewell tour” and “Grandpa Rossy” Instagram account were annoying but good-natured. The creepy SNL skit just added fuel to the fire. I was not amused when I saw that Ross somehow snaked his way into the finale of the “Chicago Fire” TV show a few weeks ago, posing as a Wrigley Field janitor for some reason (more attention?).
Ross is now a participant on Dancing with the Stars, and I know this because I can’t go on Twitter on Mondays without seeing a picture of David Ross in some ridiculous outfit. He is apparently in the show’s final round, and I’m guessing it has very little to do with his actual dancing ability. This prompted Buster Olney to make the following insane assertion:
I have some ideas for the face of baseball: Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper, Miguel Cabrera, Kris Bryant – take your pick. If you want a retired player, I wouldn’t argue with Derek Jeter. But David Ross? You’re better than that, Buster.
If this is the end of the saga, then I can live with it. However, my fear is that this phenomenon is just beginning. I think I speak for a lot of people (or at least the South Side of Chicago) when I say that this can’t end soon enough. Feel free to celebrate a respectable career and a historic championship, but this is getting out of control.