Cubs: David Ross must trust his instincts or spoil the stew

David Ross, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Russell Lansford/Getty Images)
David Ross, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Russell Lansford/Getty Images) /

New Chicago Cubs manager David Ross is getting advice from every corner of baseball willing to share an insight. Is too much input bad for the first-year coach?

After years and years of coaching, the local prep baseball team, the manager, or head coach, if you like, was fired by the school. Even though he had managed the varsity team to the only championship, it had won in many decades. Several years had passed since that time, and the team was not winning like before.

The manager had changed over the years, or maybe he didn’t change, and the players did. He used to be on the field drilling the players and correcting subtle deficiencies in their game but now he let the assistant coaches do the close-up work.

He used to have a good relationship with all his players, but that also had soured. He didn’t really understand it because he hadn’t changed his approach or methods, so why couldn’t he get through to his team any longer? Was it because the players were using cell phones now and were tied up in social media during practices or team events?

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They were always looking down at their phones instead of talking to each other.  Either way, things had not changed for the better, and the team was not winning as well, which made things worse.

The high school said goodbye and thanks for all your contributions, we were honored to win the championship after all these years and have you as the school’s head varsity coach; then he was gone.

After a highly publicized and exhaustive search, the school found Coach Spencer. Spencer was a former student that played catcher for the high school baseball team back when he was 17. Spencer’s team won the State Championship and was coached by the gentleman that was just fired.  Yes, Spencer had landed his old coach’s job.

As tryouts began, Spencer was having a blast as the new manager of his old championship team. He was joking with the boys and having hitting contests while getting great workouts from his players.  Finally, Spencer picked his final roster of a varsity team and was ready for the season.

As pre-season started, Spencer relied on his game instincts and what he had learned over the years. The first-year coach started to win all his pre-season games. However, some parents were not happy with several things Spencer was doing.

They didn’t like the lineup or the positions some of their boys were assigned. Some of the parents went to the high school and complained to the athletic director. The next thing you know the Athletic Director began showing up for games, and rumors swirled that he had a “little chat” with Spencer.

When the actual season started, things changed. Spencer was no longer smiling and laughing with his players; he was angry at most practices and games. Spencer was not managing the team; the team, including players, parents, assistants, and the school leadership were managing the team by proxy.

One day against his better judgment, Spencer kept a winning pitcher on the field too long because of the pressure to take orders. The player left the game with an injured arm that required surgery, and Spencer was fired.

I saw Spencer several months later in line at a fast-food restaurant, and we began talking about baseball. I asked him what he would do differently if he could do it all again? Spencer said he would rely on his baseball instincts more than he had.

He said although he solicited advice about the job, he should have just relied on what his coaches had taught him over 20 years. When he had done that, the team clearly won and respected him more. He had a better relationship with his players when he ignored the hype and went with his gut. He knew how to win and just didn’t listen to his gut.

“There’s always going to be someone telling you how to do it better or second-guessing you or giving you their ‘advice’ on the game,” said Spencer. “You gotta be true to yourself and what you know; cause too many cooks, spoil the stew.”

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Chicago Cubs manager, David Ross has all the tools he needs to manage the team. He has the experience, great relationships with his players and the ability to have fun with his team. As the season begins, Ross will undoubtedly be getting criticism from all sides – writers, media, ownership, Cubs front office,  players and fans.  Ross will have to be strong-minded to stay with what he knows in his gut and avoid the “little chats” from the front office.

One thing for sure, none of the Chicago Cubs parents will be in the dugout complaining this upcoming season.