Few people alive have had as eventful, unusual and enjoyable a six-month run as David Ross, who in his final game in the major leagues hit a home run for the Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series, then was carried off the field when they won it.
Offseason opportunities aplenty ensued, the latest of which has been competing on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” Soon he will move into his post-retirement role as an analyst for ESPN.
So, let’s just say things have not quite settled down yet.
“My life is as far from normal as I could ever imagine,” Ross said Wednesday on a conference call to discuss his new ESPN job. “I am in the middle of something I never thought I’d be a part of, and enjoying every minute of it.
“It’s just so far outside of my box that, to be in this arena and take a guy that’s a backup catcher and not really a superstar like some in the game and to represent MLB and try to put, with no pun intended, a good foot forward, and just have some fun with this dancing thing.
“I signed on with ESPN and being a part of that, and still being a part of the Cubs, it’s just been a lot of fun for me.
“With the things that I didn’t know - kind of not knowing what was going to go on with my career and my life after baseball — I’ve just had so many great opportunities because of the platform a lot of the guys I play with have put me on. So I’m just trying to represent them very well and have fun with it.”
Eventually Ross expects to transition into a new normal.
“I think so,” he said. “We’ve got ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ and that won’t last forever. That’s going to be short term. Hopefully people will keep voting and keep me on. I’ve got a book coming out, so that will be a little crazy, and some things after that.
“But I think after the dancing thing, just because of the travel, and getting back in the studio with ESPN and get back to talking baseball will feel really normal to me.”
Despite the pressure of learning dance steps, Ross said he is enjoying the absence of playing-related stress, even with Opening Day still a few days away.
“I had some teammates, too, some guys just out of baseball, they said you don’t realize how much stress you put on yourself on the daily grind of trying to perform at the highest level and the expectations you put on yourself,” he said.
“So I can walk in the (Cubs’) doors like I did (Tuesday) and people are like, ‘Man, you look so happy.’ I was like, ‘Well, I don’t have to grind. I’m not in the middle of the grind.’ This is one of the longest spring trainings there is with the WBC, and these guys are ready to get out of here, talking to them, and ready to get the competition started.
“I’m so glad I don’t have to be in the middle of that and worried about: Am I as prepared as I need to be to start a season and be accountable to my teammates and be ready for the road ahead? It’s a long, hard grind, especially when you’re trying to win championships.”
Former Yankee Mark Teixeira, Ross’ fellow rookie analyst, said that while he will miss certain things about playing, including celebrating big victories with teammates, “I’m not going to miss the on 0-for-4s with three strikeouts. I’m not going to miss cross-country flights at 4 a.m. I’m not going to miss everything in my body hurting when I wake up in the morning.
“Those are things where my stress level went from a 10 to a 1 pretty dramatically and pretty quickly after I retired. So that’s been really nice. And I won’t miss that part of it.”