At around 4 a.m., Cody Ross hatched the plan. Like teenagers, he and Pat Burrell would sprint down their street in Scottsdale, Ariz., looking to wreak havoc. Together, they would run to one particular neighbor’s home and rowdily bang on the door.
Unfortunately for Nick Punto, he was the doomed victim. But, although the Red Sox infielder could tolerate the morning antics, Ross and Burrell wouldn't completely escape the house unscathed.
"His wife would be there all upset because we were causing a ruckus," Ross said, smiling. "We would run down the street and go do it just to get a reaction out of him. We messed with each other like that.
Welcome to the bromance. Once neighbors in Arizona, Ross and Punto now share the love, laughs, coffee and World Series anecdotes as locker companions in the JetBlue Park clubhouse.
Their friendship first materialized in 2006, when Ross, Punto and Jason Repko would swing in batting cages in Phoenix. At the time, Punto had just finished inking his first arbitration deal, triggering a celebration among the trio.
"Being around both those guys, they would do the same exact thing," Repko said. "The same thing about Cody going over there at four in the morning, I could see that going both ways pretty easily.
Despite playing for different teams, the amity between Ross and Punto escalated over the years. The more they practiced in Arizona, the closer their wives became. So naturally, when Ross was a free agent this offseason, Punto looked to lure him east.
"As soon as I saw his name linked to the Red Sox, I called him and said 'Come on buddy, let's get it done, let's be teammates," Punto said. "I'm happy it worked out."
But Ross and Punto are linked by more than just goofy personalities. In the last two seasons, they have been bonded together by hoisting the coveted World Series championship trophy.
Ross savored the championship champagne first in 2010, guiding San Francisco to pinnacle of baseball over the Rangers. As the outfielder spearheaded the Giants’ miracle run, Punto was monitoring his buddy's progress all along.
"I was right there watching every pitch of those games and watching him flourish the way he did, it was really exciting," Punto said. "I was proud of watching him do what he did in the NLCS and going to win the World Series. It was a good thrill for me."
The following year, Ross returned the favor. While Punto aided the Cardinals' rally over the Rangers, he tracked the action from beginning to end. Even months removed from Punto's ride, Ross still beams with pride.
"To see him go through that and have some huge at-bats and play a big part in the World Series, I get emotional thinking about it," Ross said. "Goosebumps — because I was so excited for him. When that final out was made and I saw him going crazy, I knew what it was like and I was so happy he was getting a chance to experience it."
On occasion, they still reflect on those moments in the Red Sox clubhouse. With that World Series pedigree, they're hungry and hunting for another ring with the Red Sox –– this time, it's together.
Ross wholeheartedly believes their respective title runs over the last two years carries weight in Boston. For the pair, pressure is old hat.
"I know what it feels like to be that last team standing and so does Nick," Ross said. "Once you feel that, you're not satisfied and want to keep feeling it and keep striving to get that feeling again."
And as they compete for roles in the 2012 season, they'll be fueled by the taste of supremacy. The one hurdle standing in Punto's way is finding a way to dodge Ross' early wake up calls. But he'll survive.
"That's the way our relationship works," Punto said. "No rules. Pretty fun."
Sounds just like the movie, Old School.
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