“Brave New World”

Steve O Speak

Yesterday was quite a shock for Atlanta Brave fans as their long time manager Bobby Cox announced that he will retire after the 2010 season. Cox who has managed for 28 years, (24 with the Braves, 20 of which have come in his current stint) will go down as one of the greatest managers of all time and a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer. From 1991-2005 the Braves “finished” worse than 1st just one time, the strike-shortened season of 1994 (which didn’t have a postseason). He led Atlanta to 14 playoff appearances, five National League Pennants, and one World Series title (1995).

Some people try to discredit Cox because of his lone World Series title, compared to contemporaries like Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, and Terry Francona who all have multiple rings. Winning one world series shouldn’t be considered a negative mark against Cox, only 68 managers have ever won a WS, and of those only 24 have won two or more, and just 8 men have won as many as three. Cox’s 15 career (one during his time with the Blue Jays) playoff appearances, are the highest all-time. While that might not be the fairest of comparisons since, obviously there weren’t always playoffs, and with the advent of the divisional era, and now the Wild Card its easier to make the postseason, it still carries a lot of merit. No Bobby Cox team ever made the playoffs from the Wild Card, and in 10 of Cox’s 15 playoff seasons his team had the league’s best record. So not only would Cox have made the postseason he would have won the pennant if not for the divisional system. Cox’s five pennants (which tie him for 8th all-time, with LaRussa, and Torre among others) would double to 10 which would place him second to John McGraw in career pennants.

Cox will go down as a great manager, but I think the case could be made that he is the greatest in the last 50 years. Players came and went from Atlanta, but Bobby Cox kept them winning and contending year in year out. Now the Braves will begin there search for his replacement, and if they can find someone who can be 1/4 as successful as Cox they will have found a very talented manager. I hope that Cox gets one more shot at World Series glory next season during his swan song. Regardless, baseball will lose a legend in 2010, as no one will ever come close to the 14 straight division titles that Cox gave Atlanta.

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