Hug Watch Speculation Had David Ross Giddy Even Before Epic Comeback
David Ross was positively effervescent following Tuesday’s win, but it wasn’t just a matter of the epic 9th-inning comeback. For the sake of perspective, that was just the second time out of 385 games this season in which a team won when trailing by five or more runs entering the final frame. While the huge W certainly had a lot to do with his overall vibe, Ross told the media his pleasure had a more sadistic genesis in the 5th inning.
From Cubs: Kris Bryant left tonight's game with right hamstring fatigue.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 21, 2021
That’s when Kris Bryant was lifted after going 0-for-1 with a walk and a spectacular diving catch in left field. Every member of the baseball cognoscenti had their binoculars out to see whether #BryantHugWatch was taking place in the dugout. It wasn’t, of course, but Ross reveled in the knowledge that so many people were freaking out about the move.
“I was actually giggling,” Ross told reporters. “I was like, ‘This is nice for the media and all the people at home, they get to speculate until the 9th.’ If I could’ve gotten ahold of (Cubs media relations director) Jason Carr to not give you guys any information, I would have and let you guys kind of run with some things.
“That’s the first thing I thought of when he did come out and I finally had a chance to reset. The (Ken) Rosenthals, the (Jon) Heymans, I love that they had to waste some time and make some phone calls.”
I’m not sure how an agent would have gotten the info to feed to Heyman, but I get where Ross was going. Nearly every outlet across the sport has traded Bryant to the Mets already or has at least indicated he’s the most likely Cub next to Craig Kimbrel to be moved. Jeff Passan wrote Tuesday ($) that Bryant “is almost certain to get dealt” and is “as good as gone.”
Ah, but he’s not gone yet. As the manager went on to explain, Bryant had gotten “heavy legs” after that diving catch in the 3rd and there was no sense in pushing things with a guy who’d gotten very little in the way of a break due to his participation in the All-Star Game. What’s more, Bryant had been dealing with a mild hamstring issue just prior to the break.
Bryant reportedly “felt great” after getting a little treatment on the hammy and he’ll likely be out of Wednesday’s lineup, something Ross had been planning anyway. Of course, knowing how much joy the skipper got from pulling his star utility player might lead to him putting Bryant in the lineup just to scratch him or lift him again.
And it might help if the Cubs again went on to author another incredible comeback that would have imbued even the most mundane events with sunshine. Had they stumbled late rather than stringing together a six-run inning that began with a dropped third strike, you have to wonder whether we’d have gotten this tale of giddiness from Ross at all. I’m willing to bet he’d have kept it to himself sans win.
Funny how batting around to drop half a dozen and stun the home crowd — not to mention Cubs fans and pretty much the rest of baseball — will change your perspective. Except that it doesn’t change the perspective that the Cubs will be sellers over the next 10 days, which means it’s still Hug Watch Season until the deadline passes.
Oh well, at least Tuesday gave us a burst of joy we can hold tenderly even as we wait on tenterhooks for players to embrace as a sign that they’ve been traded away. Or perhaps the players will take a cue from their manager and just start hugging at random moments just to mess with everyone else.