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Cody Ross: America's Greatest Hero

Say, you know what kind of stinks about this offseason? The constant stream of farewell posts. We just swept up the ticker tape, and we're already that much closer to being balding, paunchy nostalgia-fetishists waiting in line for a "20th Anniversary 2010 World Champions Hover-Bobblehead." The hover part is because it will be the future, stupid.

But where there was once a starting outfield for a World Series-winning team, there's now a bunch of farewell posts. Fare thee well, Pat. Don't forget to take your penicillin. Best wishes, Andres. You'll be missed. And now Cody Ross goes gentle into that obnoxious night, signing with the Boston Red Sox. Maybe it's not disappointment we're feeling this offseason; maybe it's melancholy.

Well, maybe a little disappointment too. But there's some melancholy.

Without the prism of nostalgia, here's what Cody Ross represents: a time when the Giants were willing to say, sure, we'll take that player. We'll eat the money. Not sure just where we'll use him if we get the guy, but whatever. Should help us win the division either way. We just want to win.

Without the benefit of 100 different things towards the end of 2010 -- I'll just pick the Cubs winning two different 1-0 games against the Padres to make a point -- here's what Cody Ross represents: the curious piece of trivia in which the last two people in the world who thought Jose Guillen had anything left as a baseball player happened to work for the same company. And to think, one of them wasn't Jose Guillen.

Knowing what we know now, here's what Cody Ross represents: the unlikeliness of it all; baseball; cheering; hugging someone you don't know at some urine-misted sports bar; that moment when you start thinking "maybe, just maybe"; an invincible pitcher whipping his head around on two separate occasions to watch the flight of a pitch he wish he had back; people descending the 1% grade that leads from the upper concourse at AT&T Park and screaming exultations about what they just saw and what they could see; annoyed Phillies fans. It's all there.

Cody Ross is the line drive that got over Bobby Richardson, the Bobby Bonds sac fly in the sixth inning of the NLCS, the sliding catch from Candy Maldonado, the nasty slider that Scott Speizio couldn't touch, and Jose Cruz, Jr. squeezing the glove. Cody Ross, folks. One of the greatest players to ever play baseball, so long as your definitions are clear.

Here's another thing Cody Ross represents: a pretty danged useful player. I'd rather have him in center with Andres Torres, giving Brandon Belt and Nate Schierholtz time off against tough lefties, than the current alignment. The extra savings would go toward ... heck, something. A free Marco Scutaro with proof of purchase, at least. I think there was a way for Ross to make the 2012 Giants better.

I don't blame the Giants for this one. I think if Ross and his agent knew that he'd be getting a time-sharing gig for a year and $3 million, the Giants might have been interested. Instead, we heard about three-year fantasies and starting gigs. It was pretty clear that he wasn't going to get a huge deal even before the season ended. Sure wish things would have worked out differently.

If I'm reading this thing right, it sort of looks like the new Cody Ross is Brett Pill, who can barely play left, much less center. I guess either Justin Christian or Gregor Blanco might make the roster. I'd probably prefer Ross, even if it's in that I'm-expecting-him-to-drink-straight-from-the-carton-so-it-isn't-so-bad kind of way. Familiarity counts for something.

But look at us, living in the present, crying about the recent past at the expense of the less-recent past. Cody Ross isn't about the 2012 Giants. He's about the 2010 Giants, the 1993 Giants, the 1986 Giants, the 1962 Giants, and all points in between. The Giants opened 2010 with Mark DeRosa in left, Aaron Rowand in center, and John Bowker in right. The 2012 outfield is totally different. And by some stroke of providence, so was the outfield in October of 2010. Ross on another team makes everything seem that much more distant.

Just thinking about Cody Ross, though, makes it seem anything but distant. That's why he'll never have to buy a drink in San Francisco again. That's why he'll never have to buy one in Philadelphia, either, but only because it'll get poured on him. Anyone can write a 10,000-word essay on the 2010 season, but they could also just write "Cody Ross", drop the mic, and let you write the essay in your own head.

Cody Ross.