The Rundown: Ross Selected to Manage Cubs, Nats Pummel ‘Stros, Darvish Becomes King of Twitter

Though the hiring of David Ross already feels official, no formal announcement has been made. That should come from Theo Epstein today. Multiple outlets echoed a report by Mark Feinsand of indicating that all the interviewees had been apprised of Epstein’s intention as of Tuesday night, with David Kaplan and Jesse Rogers of ESPN first reporting the expected hiring yesterday.

The first knock against Ross is bound to be the fact that he seems to be nothing more than an extension of Joe Maddon. That’s not necessarily true. Though a handful of players remain from the 2016 championship team, it’s not as though the former catcher is inheriting a roster full of friends and golf buddies. Still, selecting Ross to replace Maddon does somewhat straddle the fence of nepotism.

Ironically, Rossy’s first challenge will be to disengage the current team from its attachment to the one that broke the club’s 108-year-old drought between titles. Many feel that further development of that team’s core stagnated after that glorious November evening back in 2016, and subsequent results, however circumstantial, indicates that could be the case. It also seems likely that a few more of his ex-teammates will not be part of next season’s squad when the team reports to camp in February.

Besides Ross, the Cubs interviewed Mark Loretta and first-base coach Will Venable as internal options. Joe Espada proved to be his stiffest competition for the position, as the Astros bench coach was the only other candidate the front office scheduled to interview twice.

Expect most of the team’s coaching staff to remain in place, though Ross will likely name his own bench coach. The Cubs have had no continuity in the coaching ranks since ’16, and potentially keeping guys like Tommy Hottovy and Anthony Iapoce around for at least another year probably gave Ross a slight edge over any outside competition.

World Series Notes

Right now, the Nationals look unstoppable and the Astros look like one hot mess of a ballclub. That’s a bad combination for a team down 0-2 that probably needs to win at least two of the three consecutive games in our nation’s capital to have any chance of winning the World Series. Sure, teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit, and the Cubs are certainly proof, but after last night’s shellacking just beating the Nationals once seems like an almost impossible task.

Including last night’s 12-3 win, the Nationals have now won eight postseason games in a row by a combined score of 57-20. With two more wins they’ll ignite a celebration not seen in D.C. in 95 years. In case you were wondering, yes, Walter Johnson pitched on the last championship team that called Washington its home.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez and his squad truly stormed the Juice Box in Houston to start this series, beating Cy Young favorites Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander on consecutive nights while making the seemingly superhuman pitchers look mortal at best. The Nats will have a golden opportunity to clinch the franchise’s first ever championship at home this weekend.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Sure, the Cubs have committed to Ross as their manager and the Nationals pummeled the Astros last night to go up 2-0 in the World Series, but baseball’s best story of yesterday was provided by the new King of Twitter, Yu Darvish.
  • If you’re worried that Epstein made a lazy choice, it’s worth noting that Ross checks a lot of boxes, including championship-level experience in the market he’s going to manage in, with players he’s familiar with.
  • The fan reaction to Ross’ hiring was both positive and negative and will be debated for at least a few days.
  • A mock spring training speech helped Epstein choose between Espada and Ross.
  • Ross demonstrates the qualities that every team should want in a manager in today’s analytically-forward game.
  • It’s been a long time coming, but the grievance filed by Kris Bryant and agent Scott Boras in 2015 that disputes the all-star third baseman’s service time will be presided over this week. If Bryant wins, he could be declared a free agent after this season, a year earlier than expected. He currently sits one day short of the requirement for qualifying, per the current collective bargaining agreement.

On Deck

Oh? Baby Shark is that lovable?

Extra Innings

Distraction maybe? The Houston front office didn’t do itself any favors with this steaming cow pie of a statement regarding assistant GM Brandon Taubman’s sexist shouts that appeared to be directed toward a group of female  reporters during the team’s ALCS victory celebration. Rob Manfred indicated that MLB will investigate the incident after the World Series has ended,

They Said It

  • “He’s my biggest mentor in this game other than, really, Joe [Maddon].”Anthony Rizzo
  • “If it’s Rossy, then I’m sure we’ll butt heads just like I butted heads with Joe. But, at the same time, I would respect the hell out of him. He’s my boss.”Jon Lester
  • “We need to create a culture in the clubhouse with guys in uniform that push themselves to be the very best version of themselves. We have a great culture. We’re going to try and take it to the next level.” – Theo Epstein

Thursday Walk Up Song

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman – Whether you like the hiring or not, it’s fair to say that Ross belongs at the top step of that dugout, and by all accounts he’s earned the position.

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