Cubs

Joe Maddon sees new clubhouse leaders emerging for Cubs after David Ross

Joe Maddon sees new clubhouse leaders emerging for Cubs after David Ross

After the Braves fired Fredi Gonzalez last month, Cubs players joked David Ross was in line to take over as manager in Atlanta in 2017.

Those jokes actually have an element of truth, as Ross has been widely praised for his clubhouse leadership and charisma throughout his career. Cubs skipper Joe Maddon has said on several occasions that he could see Ross becoming a manager someday.

The veteran catcher has carved out a journeyman-type career, but his longest stop was from 2009-12 in Atlanta, where the Cubs continued their three-game series against the last-place Braves on Saturday afternoon and Ross helped nurture Jason Heyward during the outfielder's first few years in The Show.

But regardless of where "Grandpa Rossy" goes or what he does after this season, his departure will leave a void in the Cubs clubhouse.

Maddon may very well be the best manager in the game, but he's also hands-off when it comes to policing the clubhouse and lets his players set - and enforce - the guidelines. He doesn't believe in appointing a captain.

"It's an organic situation," Maddon said. "Leadership is taken. You can't give leadership. (That’s) just the way it happens. You just can't anoint a leader.

"You can maybe, through politics, by having people vote for you, I guess. I've often thought that's a fabricated way of anointing a leader sometimes.

"But when you're within a group setting like this with us, there's no real hierarchy set up specifically. So if somebody wants to emerge as the leader, they have to, like, take that.

"Players have to want to follow this particular person. I just can't say, 'I'm gonna put a 'C' on your chest and all of a sudden, people are going to listen to you.'"

The Cubs have clearly taken on Anthony Rizzo’s personality, watching the All-Star first baseman grow up and find his voice around the team. Rizzo knows how to have fun, play hard and represent the franchise.

Each season, Maddon has his "Lead Bulls" meeting with a group of about 10 veterans who get together in spring training to set guidelines and ground rules for the clubhouse. Moving forward, Maddon expects the Cubs to continue to have a "leadership by committee" type of approach.

Of the Cubs' young everyday core, only Rizzo and Heyward have played full seasons in the big leagues, and both will be 27 this August.

"That's something that's become really obvious to me over the last 10 or 15, 20 years: Watching young guys attempt to be leaders," Maddon said. "Again, you can't try to be a leader. Either you are or you're not. Either you have the bells and whistles or you don't.

"And I don't think batting average or home runs or 20 wins indicate that you're a leader. Those are all misleading reasons why somebody is appointed a leader.

"You get veteran players from one group to your team and the guy's had a nice career for 10 years. And automatically, the exterior believes that this guy is gonna be the leader in that clubhouse. It could be the farthest thing from the truth."

Ross embodies Maddon's sentiment that the back of a guy's baseball card doesn't qualify him as a leader.

The 39-year-old catcher has played 15 years in the big leagues, but has a career .228 average and has hit double-digit homers in a season three times. In fact, he's only played more than 90 games in a season one time.

Ross has made a career out of being a backup catcher and it's his personality, relatable nature and sense of humor that has helped him earn the respect of his peers.

"For me, leadership, a lot of it has to do with what you are more willing to give to somebody else as opposed to being worried about yourself on a daily basis," Maddon said. "I think when you're a good leader, you are really sensitive and have a lot of empathy towards everybody else around you.

"If you're looking at guys within clubhouses, I would look for empathy as much as anything, regarding whether or not you believe somebody's a leader. Also, listening skills, somebody that's not always pontificating. That leads you in the wrong direction."

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

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