Last night's big hero for the San Francisco Giants in their division series clinching win over the Atlanta Braves and retiring manager Bobby Cox was none other than Cody Ross, he whom the Marlins set free on a waiver claim in late August.
As Ross told reporters following Monday's heroics in Atlanta: "I've been in the twilight zone for the last month and a half or however long I've been here."
Ross homered and also singled in the go-ahead run as the Giants captured the series and moved on to a NLCS showdown with the Phillies (Tim Lincecum vs. Roy Halladay in a Game 1 clash of the titans on Saturday). Ross will be there thanks to a decision by the Marlins to let the Giants take him free of charge on the waiver claim, a preventive claim put in -- by the way -- to keep the division-rival Padres from making the grab on the outfielder. With Cameron Maybin out of minor-league options after the season, the Marlins were willing to part company with Ross in order to give Maybin a thorough look over the final six weeks. Thus, Ross has come to be known as the "accidental Giant."
Here's what Giants closer Brian Wilson had to say about it afterward: ”I mean, Cody Ross, come on. The other team (Marlins) didn’t want him? We’ll take him. And then he’ll be a hero for us."
OLD HABITS DIE HARD (OR NOT AT ALL)....When Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez was thrown out in last night's eighth inning after loafing the first few steps out of the batter's box, it brought back old memories. Gonzalez was benched for the same, lack-of-hustle infraction when he was with the Marlins -- not once, but twice during the '99 season -- by then manager John Boles. And the following season, Gonzalez was dropped from second to eighth in the order after more lazy play.
Here's what Boles said in 2000, without mentioning Gonzalez by name, following another of the shortstop's lackadaisical episodes:
"We're not running a day-care center here. We're running a major-league baseball operation. I'm past the hand-holding anymore. I'm real passionate about this stuff, and I want the game to be played a certain way, and that certain way is hard."
And here's what the Marlins' then-third base coach Fredi Gonzalez had to say about Gonzalez after the '99 loafing incidents by the then-young shortstop:
"I think we are all waiting for the day when he grows up and plays like he can play," said Gonzalez, who also had to pull the shortstop from minor-league games for not hustling and had long talks with him about his attitude. "Everyone is just tired of the immaturity and of him getting pulled out of the game. It's been a constant from Day 1 -- since (Single) A ball and Double A and Triple A. It's no surprise. The thing that gets me is that there is no remorse. I've been with this guy for three years, and we've done everything possible. The ball is in his court, and he's going to have to fix it."
ON THE MANAGER'S FRONT....The Marlins have conducted no formal interviews with any prospective candidates for the manager's job, though those should begin soon. The five names to keep an eye on, in addition to interim manager Edwin Rodriguez, are Tony Pena, Bobby Valentine, Bo Porter, Ted Simmons and Jim Fregosi -- the same names that have been floating out there for awhile. (Porter interviewed for the job in June after Fredi Gonzalez was fired).
Though I have nothing to base this on other than instincts and pure conjecture, it would not surprise me to discover that the Marlins have already settled on one candidate -- Valentine?? -- and are working behind the closely-guarded scenes to work out a deal. Valentine, by the way, is not responding to emails and texts as he did earlier in the summer when he was being courted by the Marlins. It should be noted,however, that Valentine interviewed on Monday for the managing position with the Mariners.
For what it's worth, the Marlins made the announcement on new manager hire Joe Girardi between the LCS and World Series in 2005.