Powell at the Park: David Ross essential to Cubs dominant season

David Ross on the mound in relief in the Cubs 11-5 loss to the Phillies at Wrigley Field (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune).

David Ross on the mound in relief in the Cubs 11-5 loss to the Phillies at Wrigley Field (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune).

By Kevin Powell

David Ross is a backup catcher. David Ross received four standing ovations and two curtain calls at Wrigley Sunday night. That’s how much he means to this Cubs team and to this city. It was Ross’ final regular season home game of his career. “A backup catcher…a guy trying to find his place in this game and just hang around and contribute,” Ross said after the game. “When you get this kind of respect and fanfare, it’s really really overwhelming.” That’s David Ross for you. He embraces the backup role. Just as this team has embraced the target all season.

With two outs in the 7th inning of Sunday night’s win, manager Joe Maddon walked to the mound, gathered the team and explained to Ross he was taking him out. Of course, it was a sign of respect for the 15-year veteran. Ross exited to a thunderous applause from the Wrigley crowd. “It was my idea, and I’m sure he hates me for it,” starter Jon Lester said. “I just felt like that was gonna be the best time for people to really be able to recognize him. There’s not many backup catchers that get that.”

A couple innings before that, Ross provided one of the signature moments of this memorable 2016 season. Smacking his 10th homer of the season into the bleachers. It may have been the loudest Wrigley has been all season. “It was kind of cool, the way the fans treated David tonight,” manager Joe Maddon said after the win.

There has been no shortage of story lines for the 2016 Cubs. They have two legitimate CY Young candidates in Kyle Hendricks and Lester. Add in a couple of potential of MVP’s in Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, and it makes it easy to forget about a backup catcher. But Ross’ teammates haven’t allowed that to happen. Rizzo may be the captain and heart of the team, but Ross is the guy that glues all the pieces together. He’s a veteran that seems to connect with just about everybody in the locker room.

Again, four standing ovations and two curtain calls all for a guy they call ‘Grandpa Rossy.’ The ultimate teammate.