Giants fans will never forget Cody Ross
Posted on December 12, 2011
Cody Ross #13 of the San Francisco Giants stands in left field with a 2010 World Series Champion sign on the ball behind him against the Cleveland Indians during the game at AT&T Park on June 26, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
When the San Francisco Giants take the field on opening day April 6, 2012 in Phoenix one player whom Giants fans have been quick to adopt will not be with the club. Cody Ross will not be wearing the orange and black. After general manager Brian Sabean made several roster moves this winter the outfield is set, and there is no place left for the free-agent outfielder who is looking for a multi-year deal elsewhere. During his 154-game stay with the Giants over two seasons Ross made a huge impression on Giants fans by helping to lead the club to the 2010 World Series title and by lightening up AT&T Park with his smile.
On August 22, 2010 when the Giants claimed Ross on waivers from the Florida Marlins it was a mere footnote in the paper. The second place Giants were simply blocking the first place San Diego Padres from picking up Ross, so they claimed him. The Giants really didn’t need Ross at the time- or so they thought. I did not know much about Ross since he played in Miami and I did not get much of a chance to see the Marlins. I knew he had a beautiful right-handed swing and that he was a streaky hitter. Right after the trade I spoke with my good friend, Florida-based sports photographer Tom DiPace. Tom told me what a fan-favorite Ross was in Miami. He told me he would be great in San Francisco. “Just you watch,” DiPace told me.
When Ross arrived in San Francisco there was no fanfare. He hit .288 down the stretch in only 73 at bats. He hit three homers and definitely showed signs of his streak hitting- mostly the bad side. Ross hit 24 homers for the Marlins in 2009, so I knew he had some pop. However, we didn’t see much of it in September as the Giants scratched and clawed against the Padres for the division crown.
Heading into the post-season all Giants fans were looking for someone to get hot with the bat and carry the club. Known for their great pitching, the Giants still struggled to score runs. Fans were looking to Buster Posey or Pat Burrell to get hot. Maybe Juan Uribe would be the guy. NOBODY was looking to Ross to lead the offensive charge. He hit a big home run in Game 4 of the NLDS in Atlanta, and as the club headed to Philadelphia to play the first two games of the NLCS against the Phillies it appeared that Ross was getting into one of those hot streaks.
The Giants were facing an uphill battle in Game 1 going up against ace right-hander Roy Halladay. Halladay is a monster on the mound and the Giants were just hoping their ace Tim Lincecum could keep the Phillies close so they would have a chance. Ross came through and quieted the Philly crowd by crushing a long home run in the top of the third inning to give the Giants an early 1-0 lead. You know when Ross is locked in at the plate and rips one. He has a little hop-step out of the box as he drops his bat and heads to first when he really connects. This was one of those times.
When Ross stepped up to the plate in the top of the fifth inning he did it again! Solo blast to left in the exact same spot of the bleachers. Now the crowd was stunned and the name “Cody Ross” was trending nationally on Twitter. By the time the Giants held on to win 4-3 the tone had been set. The Giants came to down and beat the Phillies ace, thanks to Ross. After the Giants won the series in six games Ross was named the series MVP. As the Giants headed home for Game 1 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers, Giants fans could not get enough of Ross.
Ross cooled off a bit in the World Series, but it did not matter. The Giants beat the Rangers in five games and Ross was the toast of San Francisco when the team came home for their victory parade. Fans everywhere were wearing “Ross is Boss” t-shirts. There was a mutual love affair going on between Ross and the fans. People figured that he would be an opening day starter in the outfield in 2011 and start the season where he left off in 2010. Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way.
Ross got hurt during spring training, started the season on the disabled list, and never really got going in 2011. The team didn’t hit or score any runs for their great pitching staff and Ross was part of the problem. Maybe too much was expected? I dunno. The entire team kinda sucked and he was right there with everyone else. By the time this winter rolled around the Giants ran out of money quickly and never even offered Ross a contract for 2012. “The Giants were definitely my No.1 choice,” said Ross. “I was looking at any possible scenario, any way, anyhow. Give them a hometown discount, whatever to help their payroll. But they would not commit to more than a year. “It’s sad because I really wanted to come back. They never made me an offer,” Ross told beat writer Andrew Baggarly in his Extra Baggs blog.
“Ross earned himself a place in the Giants’ pantheon of heroes – somewhere not too far from Dusty Rhodes, I’d imagine – and, oh yeah, a lifetime of boos whenever he sets foot in Philadelphia. There’s pride in that,” wrote Baggarly.
“I absolutely loved playing there,” Ross said. “I loved every moment of the 2010 World Championship and those memories are something that can never be taken away from me,” Ross told Bagggarly.
I hope Ross plays for a team in 2012 that comes through AT&T Park to play the Giants. I want to see and hear the thunderous roars that will great him. It should be a special moment- and one he richly deserves.