ESPN baseball analyst, Dancing With the Stars dynamo and former Red Sox catcher David Ross said he’s rooting for the Cubs this series. You can’t blame him, he knows more people on the Cubs now than he does the Red Sox.
Joining the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast, Ross explained the difference in leadership styles between Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.
For years now, it seems, Pedroia may actually have been the most important figure for the Red Sox when it comes to leadership.
“David was more of the Godfather,” Ross said. “He wasn’t a vocal leader. He was more, he’s the face of baseball, but he was your best friend and everybody’s best friend. So, David wasn’t the guy that got everybody ready to play. … He’s probably the leader as far as status and what he had done in the game. But as far as the daily leader in the clubhouse, that was Dustin even when I was there.
“Dustin was the guy that set the example and made sure he was going to bring it night in and night out. And David definitely brought it every day he played. But maybe not, I would say, Dustin was more of the everyday leader when I was there, for me, personally, about showing me what that was like. David had been there and done that and was going to bring a big stick to the plate every time.
“When something serious — I talk about Jason Heyward and the talk he gave in the World Series during that rain delay [in 2016]. That was David Ortiz’s moment. David Ortiz gave that talk in St. Louis [in 2013]. David Ortiz spoke when he needed to speak, but he wasn’t the guy that everyday you had to listen to, that was going to get on your butt like Dustin would.”
Ross is not part of ESPN’s baseball coverage on Sunday and Monday, when they carry the Cubs-Sox finale first and then the opener to the Orioles-Sox series the next day.
What the Sox-O’s series brings in terms of animosity is to be seen after the Manny Machado dust-up.
Ross has suffered multiple concussions in his career. But he’s not calling for the banishment of the retaliatory pitch, which can occasionally slip and come too close to the head.
Like everyone else, Ross doesn't want to see someone hurt.
“When you’re wrong, there needs to be a way to deal with it, rather than just going, ‘Oh well, they wronged me, we’ll get ‘em next time' or whatever,” Ross said. “I mean in basketball there’s fistfights. And in football I’m sure some dirty stuff (goes on) that I know nothing about. In hockey there’s fights.
“They’ve already kind of got rid of the bench-clearing brawl. You don’t see those near like when I was first in the the league. And guys were throwing haymakers, and now it’s just kind of: guys come out, a little pushing and shoving, and everybody goes back and gets fined.
“Machado, that situation, yeah he didn’t mean to do that, again not meaning — if David Ortiz gets squared up in the back and the pitcher says I didn’t mean to do it, well you shouldn’t have tried to pitch in. Now I’m going to have hit your best guy.”
Ross took no issue with Pedroia saying “It’s not me, it’s them” to Machado on the field after Matt Barnes threw at Machado.
“I knew exactly what he was saying,” Ross said. “He was saying, 'I didn’t tell anybody to hit you.' Dustin wanted to be clear, like hey man, that’s my teammate sticking up for me. And I didn’t them to do that. I have no control over that. So don’t be staring at me, looking at me, like I’m in the wrong. You’re the one that had the bad slide, my teammates are sticking up for me, don’t look at me. I knew exactly what he was talking about.”
Ross said it’s rare that orders for retaliation pitches come from the manager.
“I have been around a few managers, and it does come up every once in a while where the manager’s like, ‘Hey, this dude needs to go down,’” Ross said. “I’ve had that just between a manager and myself. Being a catcher, and so I had to relay messages to pitchers when they’re coming in the game or in the middle of the game. But these type things usually don’t come from the manager. It would really shock me if the situation that happened in Baltimore came from John Farrell.”