Braves skipper gets better with time
Posted October 13, 2010
Some would say that Bobby Cox tenure with the Atlanta Braves ended fittingly...with a playoff loss. But those are the same people that would have you believe that Cox never accomplished much in his second go round as the Braves skipper. Don't forget that he also set up Atlanta's roster as the GM before moving back into the dugout. A quick look at the numbers in his second go round with Atlanta: from 1991-2005 the Braves won their division, lone exception was 1994 the strike shortened year, that's 14 division titles, one wild card birth, three N.L. manager of the year awards, five National League pennants and a World Series title.
Cue up the criticism, all those playoff appearances and only one championship?!?!
I'm not going to break into the excruciating losses that the Braves had in the post season, I will tell you that Bobby Cox got the most out of some talented teams. He might have managed the best rotation, (Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz)those three will be in Cooperstown one day, but who was waiting to close out games for them? It is vitally important in the playoffs to have a hammer out of the bullpen, the Braves more often then not had a rubber mallet. Cox gave the ball to Mark Wholers or John Rocker. Sure they had good numbers, but closing out a playoff game isn't closing game 37 of the regular season.
Too often I have have heard the Braves accomplishment isn't that great because at the end of the resume there is only one World Series title, that point is garbage. The run the Braves went on under bobby Cox might be the most amazing run in baseball history when you consider free agency, the steroid era and the way managers get canned even when winning a division title.
Maybe because the Braves last division title was five years ago some people have softened on this issue. Like most things in sports everything was better back in the day. It seems that the level of appreciation for his farewell tour took some of the sting out of the 14 tries and one title criticism and people looked at the wow factor of 14 consecutive post seasons.
I'm not sure why they ever could be upset with that amount of success. This could be a result of what sports fans have become, the "Ricky Bobby society" if you aren't first, you're last...Well the Braves were first...in fact 14 times. Braves fans responded with apathy, maybe that plays a part, it was Atlanta and not some sports crazy town. Or the fact that the Braves made it look so easy during that time, a team that was set up for the marathon of 162 games.
Cox might be known for being ejected more than any manager in history or only the one title in all those tries which is wrong. His players have had nothing to say but wonderful things about his management style. Rival players had nothing but great things to say about how he treated his players, and how tough his Braves teams were to play against. In fact Cox seems to be a better manger now that he is leaving, time does that.
The fact is Bobby Cox should be remembered as a winner. In the moment it is easy to look at the playoff disappointments instead of the accomplishment of getting there In a day and age of sports where players and coaches are as disposable as tissue paper he was there for the greatest moments for the Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox was there for 20 years winning in practically every one of them.