MESA, Ariz. —What a week of star turns for our Cubs.
As if the newsabout Munenori Kawasaki’s Japanese beer commercial wasn’t enough, it then was revealed that David Ross, Cubdom’s favorite Grandpa, will be acontestant on the new season ofDancing With the Stars, whichpremieres March 20.
What could be next? WillJaye Maddon join the cast of The Real Wives of the Cactus League?Perhaps one of the bullpen catchers will take up with a Kardashian?
It seems anyone with a whiff of Cub on him can write his own ticket these days.
“So we’ve got a fourth-string catcher and a minor-league infielder that are two of the hottest topics in their countries,” manager Joe Maddon said.“That’s pretty solid.”
In fairness to Ross, he never was worse offthan third-string catcher in his two crazy-fun seasons with the Cubs. Shoot, he never had a bad day at all. Everyone liked having him around so much, the organization brought him back post-retirement as a special assistant. Whatever that means.
In the weeks to come, it’ll mean shaking his money-maker for the good of the team.
“I can’t wait to see him out there dancing,” Kris Bryant said. “I never thought in a million years that I would, though.”
OK, so Ross won’t bedoing a lick of work for the team, per se. But he will be working hard — haven’t you watched this show before? — and pitching in with the defending World Series champs in his own way.Just like he did the last two seasons, Ross will be keeping the Cubs loose with what Anthony Rizzo calls his “infectious personality, always smiling, always cheerful.”
Only he’ll be doing it from afar.
Argentine tango far.
His former teammates are so psyched to watch Ross and cheer him on as he dances on the popular reality show, it’s no exaggeration to say it’s already having a positive effect on the clubhouse environment.At spring training Wednesday, that couldn’t have been more apparent.
“He has influence,” Bryant said. “We can’t get away from him. We’re going to turn on the TV, and he’s going to be there.”
Ross will dance for his television lifeagainst such stalwart competitors asformer Olympians Simone Biles and Nancy Kerrigan, 65-year-old Charo anda truemaster of graceful eleganceand gentlemanly charm, Mr. T.Any advice for a beat-up old backstop whowill turn 40 on March 19?
“Don’t suck,” Rizzo said.
“He obviously was showing his age here toward the end of (last season),” Bryant said. “Hopefully, there’s enough Tylenol to keep him going.”
Come on, guys. You can do better than that.
Actually, Addison Russell can and did. The young shortstop is an admitted “big fan” ofDWTS, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
“Don’t show your cards all at once,” Russell said. “Maybe go with, like, a little swing dance, maybe, in the first few dances, or hip-hop. And then get into that salsa stuff, the more complicated footwork. Work yourself into it. Rossy has great feet — as a catcher, you’ve got to be able to move your feet — so I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Seriously, the Cubs are rooting big-time forRoss. If he comes through under pressure and nails his paso doble, they’ll be nearly as happy for him as they were when he homered in Cleveland in his final game in the big leagues.
“I think he’s the perfect candidate for that show,” Rizzo said. “It’ll be fun to watch him.
“You do good things in life and hope to get rewarded one day. He deserves all of it. He’s a good person, he’s a good father, he’s a good husband.”
But is hea good dancer? ThatSaturday Night Liveperformance didn’t make anyone forget Fred Astaire.
“I say he’s the early favorite right now,” Bryant said. “You’ve seen with our fans how awesome they are and how they get out and vote for us on anything baseball. Especially seeing him now, he’s kind of the fan favorite. I know I’ll be voting for him, and getting everybody to vote for him. So he’s my favorite.”
Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.