The Chicago Cubs didn’t hire Grandpa Rossy to be the manager so that he would take the players to the zoo, look at old photos or go to the park with them to feed the pigeons. They hired David Ross, former Cubs World Series catcher, to get the Cubs back to the World Series before the core gets old or moves on.
Really, it was about getting the core players to play hard again, because they had been dropping off under manager Joe Maddon since winning the World Series in 2016.
So on Sunday Ross took Kyle Schwarber out of the game in the 3rd inning after he misplayed a fly ball. And everyone’s trying to figure out why. Was it a rookie manager mistake? An overreaction? Panic? Is something else really behind it? Schwarber is trending in Chicago on Twitter as people wonder why.
Here’s why: Schwarber has a .190 batting average and if he can’t run hard for a ball in the field, then what is the point of having him out there? He didn’t just misplay the ball. He ran close to the wall, which the ball short-hopped and bounced over his head, back onto the field. And then loafed back to the ball, so Minnesota’s Jake Cave sprinted around the bases all the way to third.
Time is up on the Cubs core. And it couldn’t be soon enough. The Cubs have 7 games left in the season and are surely going to make the playoffs again, probably win the division. That means nothing. This isn’t every year in Cubs history before 2016.
The goal isn’t to get the postseason. It’s to win the World Series.
But the core is just not hitting the ball. And the rest of the team, the guys who are supposed to be the supporting cast, are doing the job for them.
The core every day players — minus Jason Heyward — don’t look like guys trying to win the World Series. No, they look like a group basking in the good old days of 2016.
Yes, as a Cubs fan it’s hard not to be thrilled about that team. But the run since then has been disappointing.
Some of these guys seem to know only about how to receive for glory. But it’s hard work, gritty work. You can’t just stand there and swing for home runs with every at-bat. Sometimes a groundout to the right side of the infield will score a run.
Kris Bryant is hitting .197. Javier Baez .205, Anthony Rizzo .212. And Schwarber is lowest at all, .190.
They called Ross “Grandpa’’ when he was the Cubs backup catcher on the World Series team because he was older, had gray hair and was just so nice and friendly. Maddon had lost control of the team. They weren’t fighting for him anymore. Maybe they weren’t respecting him.
So it was a chance to take when the Cubs hired a first-time manager and friend of the core to give up his career appearing on Dancing with the Stars and Saturday Night Live to kick his friends’ butts.
So far, he has coddled his friends with no result. He has believed in them with no result. He has waited patiently with no result.
Maybe he was a little late with this move. There is a learning curve and this is a pandemic-shortened season. So there isn’t time for mistakes.
Ross seems to be in postseason mode now. He pulled his good friend, starting pitcher Jon Lester, out of a game early. He’s messing around with different lineups.
And on Sunday, he pulled Schwarber. Afterward, Grandpa Rossy said he wasn’t going to talk about it, but rather keep it in the family. Cubs fans and media, still apparently grateful to Scharber for 2016, spent their time talking about what a great thing he did by staying in the dugout afterward to cheer on and support his teammates.
Fine, he’s a good human being. I’m glad to hear it.
Now, run for the damn ball.