'Grandpa Rossy' playing free and easy in final season with Cubs

'Grandpa Rossy' playing free and easy in final season with Cubs

David Ross pumped his fist and jogged back to the dugout, high-fiving Jon Lester and fellow Cubs teammates along the way.

As far as celebrations go, this one was pretty tame for Ross, but it was also just the top of the second inning in a scoreless ballgame in April against the team with the worst record in baseball.

Ross is a fun-loving guy who typically celebrates everything he can, but he's also taking it all in and playing free and easy during his victory lap before he retires at the end of the season.

We've seen him skip around on the bases, douse teammates in ice showers and whatever that celebration is in the dugout that may be a little NSFW

"He's always stopped and smelled the roses," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's unique. Different cat from what I've had in the past."

Ross also has more to celebrate this season, hitting .267 with an .851 OPS. He's already scored more runs (8) than he did all of last season (6) in almost 150 fewer plate appearances and has an OPS more than 300 points higher than 2015 (.518).

Over the first month of the season, Ross has twice as many homers as he hit in 2015.

"At least I'm contributing and working at-bats and making the guys throw rather than three pitches to get me out," Ross said. "I'm just trying to have good at-bats and being a part of this group. 

"These guys pride themselves on going up there and being tough outs and I just want to get in the mix."

The 39-year-old has also done a solid job of limiting the running game, throwing out four baserunners already this year.

Ross also caught his first career no-hitter last month in Cincinnati and sports a sparkling 1.64 catcher's ERA

"He's playing at a really high level right now, regardless of his age," Maddon said. "He playing at a really high level offensively, defensively, the way he takes command or control of the game. You don't see catchers take control as well as he takes control these days.

"He's not afraid to say something out to the pitcher or the defense. He had a coversation with the umpire [Friday]. He does a lot of things that guys don't really do a whole lot anymore."

After Friday's win over the Braves, Ross joked that his teammates keep asking him why everybody always thinks he's so nice even though he spends so much time yelling at everybody.

Ross admitted he does get on Lester a lot because he looks at the veteran southpaw as a little brother and expects a lot out of him.

Lester obviously appreciates that from his personal catcher.

"Rossy stinks," Lester joked after his start Friday. "I'm tired of Rossy. I'm tired of dealing with him. You guys don't get to see the other side that I get to see.

"I mean, obviously Rossy is a big contributor on a lot of different levels. ... He's had some really good ABs for us this year. This guy is the consummate professional. He's the guy that enver takes a play off, whether he's in the dugout or in the game.

"He always expects the best from everybody, so it's nice to see the reward for the work he's put in to get where he's at. I don't want to keep talking good about him because then he'll probably get wind of it and then I won't hear the end of it."

The Cubs entered the season with Ross figuring to fill a role as pseudo-coach, part-time catcher and full-time cheerleader with Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero also available behind the plate. 

But both Schwarber and Montero are now on the disabled list and Ross is currently the guy sharing the catching duties with recent call-up Tim Federowicz.

The situation may have changed, but Grandpa Rossy's self-awareness hasn't.

"I know I can't catch every day," he said. "I'll tell you that. I know I'm not an everyday catcher. Nope. Not that guy."

Ross also won't credit his uptick in playing time as a reason for his increased productivity this season.

"I've been doing this backup thing for a long time," he said. "It's just about having confidence in your approach and what you're doing up there.

"The everyday at-bats: Sometimes that helps, sometimes it doesn't. Depends on how you feel. I've had a good approach; I've worked on it since spring and this offseason and I just feel a lot better at the plate. That's the bottom line."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective


Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective

NBC Sports Chicago’s own Kelly Crull and videographer Scott Changnon recalled what All-Star week in the nations capitol was like from their point of view.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:


Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world


Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world

What Chicago sports team is worth the most money in 2018?

As reported by Kurt Badenhausen in a Forbes article about the 50 richest teams around the globe, the Cubs are the most valuable organization in the Windy City.

Chicago’s North Side baseball team ranks as the 16th wealthiest team in the world, valued at $2.9 billion, an 8 percent increase from 2017. The Cubs are the third-most affluent franchise in Major League Baseball, behind the New York Yankees ($4 billion) and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($3 billion).

This year, the baseball club owned by the Ricketts family surpassed the wealth of the Boston Red Sox ($2.8 billion), who the Cubs were ranked behind last season at $2.68 billion. In the span of a year, the North Siders gained two spots in the top 50 from 18 to 16 on the list.

What could be the reason for this increase?

Could it be that the Cubs are in first place in the NL Central? Or could it be the incredible performances from players like Jon Lester and Javy Baez?

Whatever the reason is for the Cubs’ prosperity, the team is doing something right.

The club also surpassed the Bears on the list this year. In 2017 the Bears (worth $2.7 billion last year) were tied with the Red Sox as the 16th most valuable sports team on Earth. The McCaskey-owned football team has fallen to a tie at 17 with the San Francisco Giants, both valued at $2.85 billion in 2018. The Bears even increased by 6 percent in the last year, making the Cubs’ jump seem greater.

The Bulls, owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, are the last team from Chicago to make the cut. They stand at 23 in the top 50, tied with the Denver Broncos. Both franchises are worth $2.6 billion. Chicago’s NBA team even fell a spot from 2017, but they still increased their value by 4 percent (worth $2.5 billion last year).

The Bears are the seventh richest team in the NFL, while the Bulls are fourth wealthiest in the NBA.