Nowadays, David Ross' biggest worry involves executing dance steps instead of hitting fastballs in front of millions on live TV. Or, in the case of a dance he did earlier this month, executing those steps while taking off his pants in front of that primetime audience on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars."
"I did the ‘Magic Mike' routine the other night," Ross, fully clothed in the Wrigley Field press box, explained of his April 3 faux-striptease dance. "I literally couldn't sleep one night — I dropped my kids off at school, like half the elementary school goes, 'Mr. Ross, I watched you on Dancing With The Stars.' And I knew I had Magic Mike. So I'm like, wait a minute, all these 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds are gonna watch me take off my pants and shirt. It scared me to death."
Ross was back in the warm embrace of Wrigley Field on a chilly Wednesday evening to receive his 2016 World Series ring, throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Jon Lester ("I wanted to shake him off so bad," Ross laughed) and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the Seventh Inning Stretch. Life after baseball has suited the longtime backup catcher well, even the celebrity aspect of it has been surreal for a guy who'll remind anyone within earshot that he hit .229 in his 15-year career. He's hung out with Eddie Vedder, done the late-night talk show circuit, competed against the likes of Mr. T on "Dancing With the Stars" and has a book coming out next month.
"Like, I can't even read," Ross said. "How do I have a book coming out?"
But Ross has, on occasion, felt the itch to return to baseball. He's not getting back in as a player, but what about as a manager?
"That's hard to say," Ross said. "I think that I've got a lot of people saying that I could manage and this and that. That's a huge compliment, and I take that very seriously. But I want to know what goes into it."
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A desire to figure out what it takes to manage a baseball team is why Ross took a job with the Cubs' front office as a special assistant to baseball operations in January. He'll do some amateur scouting from home but also wants to learn about the kind of information Joe Maddon receives and how he works with a coaching staff and roster.
"I know it's a lot harder than people give it credit for, and I don't want to take that for granted and say 'Oh, yeah, I'd make a great manager, I could just step down there and do it,'" Ross said. "I know that's not true. There will be a time for figuring out what role that I'll have in baseball, and that's what's great about Theo (Epstein) giving me the opportunity to try different avenues and see what I like the most."
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo — one of Ross' closest friends — brought up a line of questioning the 40-year-old Ross will have to ask himself, though, if he ever does want to return to a major league dugout.
"You know, there's just so many cons that come along with that," Rizzo said. "Why? Why would he? He's making more money this year off the field than if he was playing or managing. He's got his family. If he wanted to, I could see him being a manager, but I just don't see that right now for him."
But if Ross ever were to decide to give managing a try, there are plenty around the game who believe he'd be good at it. Count his former manager among those people.
Maddon explained that beyond his baseball knowledge, Ross is "people bright" and has the ability to work with a wide range of personalities. Those people skills are one of the biggest reasons why Ross left such an indelible mark on the 2016 Cubs.
"I think he'd do a great job handling what he has to do on a daily basis," Maddon said. "His sense of humor, but also his intensity and his drive all would be obvious. He's going to do that at some point when he's done dancing.
"Another reason why (he'd succeed) is he's stepping out of his comfort zone right now (on 'Dancing With The Stars'). That's not comfortable. That takes a big leap, literally, of some kind of faith to jump out in front of the nation on a dance floor after being baseball player for so many years. I love that. That in and of itself tells me he'll be a good manager. He has all the necessary requirements, plus he's not afraid to take a chance or a risk. Hire him."
Maybe someday Ross will contact Maddon for a job recommendation, but that's somewhere off in the future. For now, he needs to figure out a way to impress Carrie Ann Inaba, the "Dancing With The Stars" judge who was booed by a sold out crowd Monday at Wrigley Field after giving Ross' waltz a "seven" rating (the other three judges rated Ross' dance as an eight).
"I'm enjoying the heck out of it," Ross said. "You think good things happen to good people, you try to do good things and hope it pays off, but I wasn't trying for any of this. I was just being myself and that's what I think the people appreciate."