After having a night to sleep on some thoughts about the David Ross introductory press conference, I think it's appropriate to say that a lot of good things were said. Here are some takeaways after an evening to process what was said during the press conference.
He's Not a Puppet
This topic has been as hot as a white flame in the Chicago media landscape. Theo Epstein made the comment, "If you wanted a puppet for the front office, you don't hire David Ross, he's his own man."
Let's break that down. A number of people are already calling B.S. and saying that Theo is lying through his teeth. However, I don't think that's the case. Call it Cubs bias or whatever, but there is a good chance that they are right.
David Ross has played for some of the best managers in the game. He played under Joe Maddon with the Cubs, he played for Bobby Cox with the Atlanta Braves, and he briefly played under Terry Francona in his first stint with the Boston Red Sox. Ross has played for many great managers and has been able to witness what it takes to manage a baseball game at the pro level. He even admitted he will be his own man, taking pieces of all of those managers and putting them in his toolbox.
Another thing to consider, that Ross mentioned at least once, is his background as a catcher. As a catcher in baseball, whether you like it or not, is involved in every play, especially for a catcher such as Ross who would often call his own games. This trait could be one reason that former big-league catchers transition into great managers over time (think Joe Girardi). That view of the game will certainly assist in his decision-making, but even Ross admitted it will take time to put that into practice.
He's Not Afraid to Challenge the Front Office
Theo told a great story reflecting on a time when David Ross completely went against what Theo, the front office, and the analytics said "could be best." If you missed it, here's the clip:
Now, not sure he said to stick it where the sun doesn't shine, but he was certainly willing to voice his opinion and follow his intuition during the situation. That is a key trait for managers everywhere — be your own person and do what you think is best. Will Ross always contradict the front office? Of course not. There is a good possibility he will actually work with them more and value their opinions a little more than a very experienced manager would. However, Ross stated it. He will be his own manager, work with the front office as a team, but ultimately do what he sees right in the situation.
Grandpa Rossy is not Soft
This may be the biggest takeaway for Cubs fans that still only see the "Grandpa Rossy" persona of 2016. Ross noted in the press conference that he's not as nice as everyone thinks he is on the field. He demands a lot out of his teammates and has no issue holding people accountable. In Ross' book "Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages," Ross highlights his time with the Cubs and playing that leadership role in the clubhouse. He notes a handful of stories in the book where he would get on guys such as Jon Lester or Anthony Rizzo to ensure they were being accountable and working in the manner that they should. That is a big reason why he was so respected, and ultimately a big reason those teams were so successful. That type of voice is a necessity in the locker room, and when he left, there was a noticeable gap of accountability since Joe Maddon was not that type of manager and there were only a few vocal leaders in the clubhouse.
This point also ties into the question "how will he manage former teammates and friends?" That is certainly a fair question, as it is sometimes tough to manage your friends. However, Ross said he would not have any problem with it, a manner he shared when he was their teammate. He demands a lot out of them and they should demand a lot out of Ross. It will certainly be a fun clubhouse when it needs to be, but it will also be an accountable group that can express thoughts and have the difficult conversations when needed.
This coming season will be an intriguing one for Cubs fans. There are still a lot of moves that will be made throughout the offseason to shape this team into a formidable contender. It may not happen this year either, which is not the end of the world. The Cubs' front office needs to re-tool and ensure that David Ross has a competent team on the field. It wouldn't matter who the manager is if the team is not improved from last year.
As the writer, and a fan, I am excited about 2020. Will it be a playoff year for the Cubs? Maybe. Will it be a World Series year for the Cubs? Doubtful. But this will be a year of building toward something sustainable and the building of a new culture that should breathe some fresh air into the Wrigley Field home clubhouse.
If you didn't catch the press conference, take a watch below. When you do, send me a note on Twitter (@rnldluce) and let me know what your biggest takeaway was!
Note: the Twitter stream is the longer version. You can also find the press conference, beginning with David Ross speaking, on the Cubs' YouTube channel.
Featured Photo: Jesse Rogers/ESPNChicago