Forget about the 6 Million Dollar Man; how about the One Dollar Man? Makes the Double Cheesburger I had at lunch sit even worse than it already was.
Height. Weight. Strength. Speed. Salary. Statistics.
And value, in terms of the return that athlete can command in a trade.
So does Cody Ross recall what the Marlins sacrificed for his services from the Cincinnati Reds on May 26, 2006, countless chants and 270 starts ago?
“Yes, yes,” Ross says with a smile, before starting the season’s second half against the first-place Phillies. “It was for a dollar.”
But wasn’t there any personnel compensation to complement the cash considerations? Perhaps a player to be named later?
“Yeah,” Ross says. “His name was Benjamin Franklin.”
OK, so at least the Marlins threw in a C-note for the former fourth-round pick. …
“George Washington, I mean,” Ross says. “I just found that out this year, that it was for one dollar. That’s it. Pretty good deal.”
Better than any you’ll find at McDonald’s.
This is one buck that even the stingy Marlins don’t want back. It bought more than salty fries and gooey pie. It bought a productive player whose second-half follow-through will be critical to their playoff push.
Since joining Florida, Ross has provided power up and down the lineup as well as defense around the outfield — especially in center, where he is most comfortable. He has become what many no longer expected, after the Tigers dumped him on the Dodgers for the pitcher Steve Colyer and the Dodgers shipped him to the Reds for a player to be named later and, just a month later, the Reds sent him to the Marlins before that player (pitcher Ben Kozlowski) had even been identified.
“I have always felt like I was an everyday big-leaguer, and I’ve heard a lot of people say that I wasn’t,” Ross says. “I just never let that affect me. I knew I was capable of doing it, it was just a matter of me going out and proving it.”
Instead, he spent this April proving doubters right, hitting .217, struggling to lock in his swing.
“I just remember one day in the clubhouse and was sitting here, thinking to myself, ‘I’m fed up, sick and tired of not producing and performing, and I’m going to get pissed off and take that attitude out there,’” Ross says. “You’ve got to think to yourself you’re the best player in the game. From then on, it just kind of turned.”
After April and through the All-Star break, he hit .301 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI. While Jeremy Hermida, with his perfect swing and ideal baseball body, hasn’t become what the Marlins projected, the bald, stubby castoff has been everything and more.
Since joining the Marlins, Ross has hit .266 with 59 home runs and 201 RBI. During that same time frame, Hermida has hit .264 with 50 home runs and 186 RBI. Ross has committed 14 fewer errors (nine vs. 23) with superior range and versatility.
If Hermida is a big-league starter, Ross certainly is.
Ross is something else: a fan favorite, due to his fun first name and engaging personality. This is a guy who readily admits that, when growing up in New Mexico, he longed to be a clown. “Not a circus clown,” he insists. “A rodeo clown. Big difference. Rodeo clowns protect the cowboys from getting hurt when they fall off. They just dress up in that funny attire to entertain the fans during the rodeo.”
Marlins fans find him entertaining enough to grant him a chant, one of only three South Florida athletes so honored. Panthers’ “David Bo-o-o-o-o-th!” The Heat’s “MV3″ for Dwyane Wade. And “Cody, Cody, Cody!”
Ross thinks that began after his walkoff home run against the Reds’ Francisco Cordero last June. His wife Summer cringes when she hears it, worrying about the pressure. He tries to block it out by thinking of Kevin Costner in For The Love of the Game, telling himself to “clear the mechanism.”
“But I like it,” he says. “It gets me going a little bit. It makes me want to do something for the fans.”
The Marlins, too. Though they long ago got their money’s worth.
Because Marlins fans need more reason to adore Cody Ross.
Beinfest might not be the best drafter, and he’s hit or miss on trades, but the guy has a knack for dumpster diving and finding great value. Ross, Nelson, Meyer, Calero, Justin Miller. The list goes on and on.