David Ross has had a busy 12 months. He was a finalist on “Dancing With the Stars”, got a job as a commentator with ESPN, traveled the country for personal appearances…oh, and he did that ‘win the World Series’ thing too. With so much going on, even hardcore fans of the former Cubs backup catcher could be excused for missing the fact that in his ‘spare time’ Ross managed to write a New York Times best-selling book, “Teammate” as well.
Framing his baseball story through the lens of World Series Game 7, Ross discusses how he emerged from the ashes of being released by the Cincinnati Reds in 2008 to the high of winning the 2016 World Series, and in the process becoming one of the most valuable teammates in the game and certainly the most beloved backup catcher that baseball has ever seen.
As Ross says in the book, “I realized character could be as valuable as a home run, and my behavior and that attitude helped extend my career.”
It started with a small comment from Theo Epstein, after the 2008 season. Ross had joined the Boston Red Sox after being let go by the Reds and as he and Epstein discussed his future in Boston, Epstein felt he needed to inform Ross that he had gotten a reputation around the league as a bad teammate. That was the turning point for Ross.
Part autobiography, part self-help tome and even part journal kept during the 2016 season, “Teammate” had me anxiously turning to the next page to continue Ross’s remarkable story. In fact, I read the 272 pages in a single sitting.
I may have been slightly predisposed to like the book as a diehard Cub fanatic and David Ross fan, but my affection was more than just a fan service courtesy.
On the one hand, Ross provides insight and behind-the-scenes info on some of the Cubs biggest stories of the 2016 season, from the creation of the “Grandpa Rossy” persona to the emotionally charged meeting during the Game 7 rain delay. That in and of itself gives the book a great deal of value, but it was some of the other aspects that stuck with me.
After the meeting with Theo Epstein, Ross made a conscientious effort to be the best teammate that he could be and provide any team that he was a part of with more than just his baseball talent, but also the intangible benefit that provides. Throughout the book in between the insider stories of his career and personal life Ross shows practical examples of the key things that create a good, or even bad, teammate.
Though often based with a focus towards sports, the lessons Ross teaches in “Teammate” are equally appropriate being shared in a board meeting or classroom as they are on a ball field.
“Teammate” is a great book for anyone with an interest in some of the nitty-gritty of the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs or their beloved backup catcher. Beyond that, the morals and ‘teachable moments’ make the book valuable for anyone who want to be a better part of a team, be it athletic, business-oriented or even a family. Ross proves that even at the lowest low there can be lessons to learn and a chance to achieve more than ever seemed possible.
“Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages” by David Ross and Don Yaeger is available in print and digital and earns 8/9 baseballs from Tripping Baseballs. Highly recommended.
Until next time,
Keep Tripping Baseballs.
- It’s November 2. The Cubs are still playing baseball. The Cubs have a chance tonight to be World Champions. I don’t know how to handle this. Tonight everything changes. While it has been slowly disappearing over the past few years, tonight we shake the “lovable losers” moniker. Tonight, win or lose we prove to the world that the Cubs are a legitimate force to be reckoned with and no billy goats or curses or cute little jabs at us are going to be acceptable any more. We are no longer a national punchline. We are the fearsome, mighty Cubs and that is the narrative if we win 1-0 or lose 100-1. For the we true fans, our lives are about to change forever.
- My prediction tonight is that Corey Kluber will go no more than 3 innings before handing it over to the elite 3 in the Indians bullpen. The Cubs will need to score early to have a chance. I think Kyle Hendricks will go a bit longer than Kluber, but that Joe Maddon will have a quick hook the instant Hendricks gets into trouble. Assuming things go well, I think he might go a maximum of 5 innings, with Montgomery, Chapman, and Lester coming out of the bullpen with possibly some split matchups for the righties in the ‘pen, like Carl Edwards, Jr.
- Not that it’s a rarity amongst Cubs fans but I am extremely nervous and have been all day. Remind me why we don’t play Game 7 at 10 in the morning and just alleviate all of the anxiety? Also, Happy “Stress Awareness Day.” Yes, that’s a real thing, and yes, the fates have conspired to have it be today.
- There was a period of time in my high school career where my mom wouldn’t let me watch Cubs games at home because I got too involved and–let’s say verbose– during them. It’s a good thing I have my own house now, because I don’t think I would have been able to watch any of this post-season.
- Who would have thought that Kyle Schwarber, he of the torn ligaments in his leg and ‘lost season,’ would have an infield hit and stolen base in Game 7 of the World Series of aforementioned season?
- Hendricks getting around the Javy Baez error with a quick at-bat to Mike Napoli was huge. The defense will save him some embarrassment and he will in turn do the same for them.
- I cannot stand Jose Ramirez.
- Jon Lester has some problems with the pickoff? Why, this is the first I’m hearing of this, Joe Buck. Please find a new narrative.
- Games like this remind me of how young and inexperienced the Cubs really are. They are trying to do too much on the field sometimes at the expense of the simple out. They need to focus on the simple things and the big things will happen.
- I want Jason Heyward to get a hit, not just for the Cubs offensive output, but just for him.
- I’m so glad to see Baez get that home run. He was struggling during the Series, both at the plate and–especially tonight–in the field. That had to feel like redemption.
- “Irregardless” isn’t a word.
- The clip of David Ross talking to Anthony Rizzo about anxiety in this game was one of the most adorable things I’ve seen in quite awhile.
- “Uh oh. Looks like Happy learned to putt!”
- Just because the Cubs have a decent lead is no excuse to squeeze Hendricks…or pull him, for that matter.
- I thought Jon Lester was only going to come into a clean inning. That plan went out the window pretty quickly.
- Wow. That was really ugly for both Lester and Ross. The one critique I’ve had of Joe Maddon during this post-season has been his quick hook on starting pitchers to hand the game to a bullpen that Joe has stated publicly that he doesn’t trust. Hendricks was cruising along and got squeezed on some pitches that led to a walk. I don’t think anything he did that inning required him to get pulled so early. I understand the appeal of getting Jon Lester in the game, but he doesn’t have his good stuff tonight.
- What are we going to without you, David Ross? I’m not only referring to the Cubs, I’m talking about the world in general.
- This is going to be a long 12 outs. I’m shocked this isn’t the 8th or even later.
- I would give just about anything I own to be in that stinking, sweaty mass of humanity gathering outside of Wrigley Field tonight. I regret not being able to write my Papa’s name on the walls of the bleachers, as I’ve seen so many Cubs fans do for their own loved ones over the past two days.
- I had friends request that I do a live stream of me watching the game, but i told them it wasn’t that interesting. Mostly I’ve been stress eating with the occasional burst of profanity-laden screaming.
- This is happening, isn’t it? This is really happening? We aren’t in a bizarre An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge situation, are we? I mean, I can be OK with that…
- Just 4 outs to go. That’s doable. That’s less than ’03. That’s OK. This is fine.
- And then Rajai Davis happened. I had a feeling after his misplays in the field that he would come around and do something to help the team…and lo and behold he falls into the list of Chicago public enemies.
- And with a walk, David Ross rides off into the sunset. Possibly the most beloved 3rd string catcher in the history of this grand game.
- The review play on the Chris Coghlan slide was ridiculous and handled very poorly by the umpiring crew. Regardless, Coghlan did a great job breaking up the potential double play.
- Moving into the 10th inning, I’m not even angry with Chapman or with Joe Maddon any more. I’ve become more or less numb at this point. No high and no low. I don’t like that.
- Because of course the World Series between the Cubs and Indians falls into a rain delay. In extra innings. Of course it did. It is certainly not going to be an easy road to the championship.
- My heart can literally not take this any more. And I love it.
- No party at Napoli’s tonight!
- Well, Rajai Davis, I hope you enjoyed your night tonight, because it clearly cost your soul.
- I’ve waited my whole life to say this, but THE CHICAGO CUBS ARE THE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!
- Thanks for taking this journey with me!
- I took this picture at the All Star game this summer. I thought it might come in handy this year.
Let me make this clear. The Angels are my second favorite team in baseball. Most years I will root for them to go 162-0. This year, however, I was pulling for a 158-4 record and the first two games of the season were two of my anticipated and hoped for losses. And they try to tell me that dreams don’t come true.
We arrived to Angel Stadium shortly before the gates opened and parked literally right next to the home plate entrance. The stadium lot is only $10 this season, either due to more parking now that the Amtrak station moved down the road or the fact that the Angels were tired of getting undercut by nearby businesses renting out spaces in their parking facilities. I was prepared to pay up to $20 due to my lack of mobility and discomfort walking the half mile from the outlying parking options, so to see the price at half of the cost to park at Disneyland, I was elated.
The aforementioned lack of mobility discouraged me from heading to the first base side of the ballpark, where the Cubs dugout was, to seek autographs or baseballs and Lauren and I headed straight to our seats above the bullpens. I spent much of the pre-game as close to the field as I could get, watching the Cubs take batting and fielding practice, watching Jon Lester warm up and chatting with fellow Cub fans.
The interesting thing about the pre-game activity was the fact that Manny Ramirez was hanging out in left field with Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber and even shagging a few baseballs himself. No one called to him for autographs or baseballs, and I wonder if no one recognized him, or if people just didn’t care. I tend to think it was the former.
While I didn’t notice any of the Cubs signing autographs at all during the pre-game, I later heard that Jake Arrieta was shagging baseballs in the outfield, pulling a pen from his back pocket, signing the ball and tossing it into the stands, which I happen to love. Post-game I saw the bullpen guys throw at least a half-dozen baseballs into the crowd, so the early reports of the Cubs being not so fan friendly on the road seem to me to be a few jilted autograph dealers upset that maybe the players weren’t signing a dozen baseballs for every fan who asked.
While I was watching the Cubs get ready, Lauren did a reconnaissance mission of our seating area so that we could plan our food for the evening. I like nothing better than a basic hot dog at the ballpark, but sometimes it’s nice to branch out. We opted for the burger bites, which are essentially White Castle sliders, minus the onions. They were topped with a sweet “thousand island-esque” sauce that was fine, but really, I could take it or leave it. They were served in a bucket with fries that were average ballpark fries. Overall, I’d get them again.
In the same vein, later in the game we shared a sticky sweet strawberry “rum-a-rita” in a lurid shade of red and the basic Angel dog. Both items will easily be repeated as the season goes on.
The game was great, as Jon Lester was dealing against an anemic Angel offense and the Cubs bats must have brought some of the heat of Las Vegas with them when the came to Anaheim. Home runs by Matt Szczur, Dexter Fowler and one-half of the Bryzzo Souvenir Company as well as a pure hustle double by David “Grandpa” Ross highlighted the offensive onslaught.
There was a very curious moment in the top of the second inning when Angel pitcher, Andrew Heaney threw one pitch to Anthony Rizzo, stepped off the mound and disappeared into the dugout. I wasn’t sure whether he had been caught doing something illegal to the baseball, but I never saw the umpire gesture that he had been tossed from the game, and immediately jumping on Twitter, learned that he was dealing with a nosebleed. I don’t know if there is any correlation at all, but the Angels placed him on the disabled list today with a muscle strain. Not a good thing for a franchise that is already very thin in the pitching department.
Lester pitched 7 strong innings and only allowed 4 hits, which marks a significantly better start than his first Cub start last season. Later, Trevor Cahill, Travis Wood and Pedro Strop all made appearances out of the bullpen and all looked very sharp.
As I said, we were seated right above the bullpens, in an area with a few fairly vocal groups of Cub fans, including a drunk man in a Cubs onesie and two of my favorite people from work, Shaun and Arvin. I really want the Cubs hockey-style sweatshirt that Arvin was showing off.
We left the game with little to no hassle and as we sat in the parking lot of the Big A I plugged in my iPhone and played “Go Cubs, Go” since the Angels didn’t have the common courtesy to play it for us after the “W.”
Thank you Angels for the 2-0 start. You can start winning now. At least until you head out to Wrigley later this summer! As usual, a gallery of game photos can be found right here.
Until next time,
Keep Tripping Baseballs!