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The Giants win, the Braves are eliminated, Bobby Cox rides off into the sunset

Oct 11, 2010, 10:56 PM EDT

The Giants move on. And so too does Bobby Cox.

The last at bat of the game was pretty emblematic of this season. The Braves, undermanned, finished the game with a hitter who probably shouldn’t have been there, really. But you know what? Melky Cabrera took a good hack. He hit it fairly hard. He even ran hard. Maybe he did it because he realized that Bobby Cox was watching and he didn’t want to let his manager down.

Game 4 was much like all the other games in the end.  Not much punch for the Braves. A homer from Brian McCann and a sacrifice fly was it.  Defensive lapses, though nothing egregious from Troy Glaus, surprisingly enough.  A move from Bobby Cox that, in hindsight, was a bad one. Like I said earlier today, Bobby Cox has lived and died by trusting his players.  This day he died by it, leaving Derek Lowe in the game in the seventh inning against his better judgment. Lowe said he could get Pat Burrell out. He couldn’t. He walked him and extended the inning. If Cox decides not to trust Lowe there, maybe the Braves get out of the jam. If Cox doesn’t trust his players, however, he doesn’t manage for 29 years in the bigs.

Ultimately, though, this was about a team without enough talent. There weren’t enough bats. If there were Melky Cabrera and Diory Hernandez would never have been allowed to the plate. Not enough competent fielders. If there were, Glaus wouldn’t have been playing third base. Derek Lowe showed tremendous heart pitching six and a third strong innings on short rest. Brian McCann was tremendous both at the plate and behind it. But it takes more.

The Giants had that little extra that a team needs to move on. Cody Ross — a savvy midseason pickup — was responsible for both of the Giants earned runs.  Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson bent a bit, but never broke. The balls fell when the Giants needed them to. The pitchers made the pitches when they needed to. The opposition crumbled at the worst moments and the Giants took advantage. San Francisco never excelled, but they endured and, ultimately, survived.  They’ll now go on to face the Phillies in the NLCS.  I hope for their sake they step things up, because the Phillies are a much, much better team than the Atlanta Braves.

And thus ends the career of Bobby Cox. When the game ended and Cox emerged from the dugout, the Giants players stopped their on-field celebration and applauded the man. He deserved it. Not because he was the best manager ever. He probably wasn’t. Not because he was the most likable guy ever. God knows he wasn’t.  But because he’s been running baseball teams since before most of them were born, and that’s a pretty rare things these days.

Bobby Cox returned to Atlanta to take over as general manager for my Braves when I was 12 years-old. I’m 37 now. I loved that team even when they were still a laughingstock, but eventually the novelty would have worn off.  I’m not sure what would have happened to my baseball fandom if I had lost interest in the one team I could see on TV every day back in the late 80s and early 90s. Maybe I would have stuck with the lovable losers, but I suppose I may have just let it go too. Hard to say.  It’s a question I’m glad I never had to answer thanks to Cox building that team back to respectability and then taking it over to lead it to glory.

Thanks Bobby. Thanks for everything.

  1. Dee - Oct 12, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    How I learned to love the Braves was just like you, because it was on every day. And there were maybe 2000 people at the park and anytime someone hit a homer (a rare occasion) they would shoot the canon off. And that was damn cool. The Braves have lost a lot over the years which really stinks. But even still they managed to get here. Next year we’ll come back better! Here’s to Bobby.

  2. The Steve Jeltz Experiment - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    I have no idea whether Bobby Cox is a nice guy or not, but he’s a helluva of a baseball manager, and it’s pretty clear that he was a hell of a leader of men. It is worth noting that his former charges seem unwilling to say anything bad about the guy, which says a lot as well.
    Did he win enough titles? I think you can make the case that he did not, particularly when you consider that his teams had an absolutely amazing pitching staff in the 90’s led by what should be three Hall of Famers. I remember reading years ago that Steve Avery might have suffered from overuse, and that would be on Bobby if that was true (and I have no idea if it is), although mitigated by the fact that people didn’t worry about that as they do now. And I’m sure Braves fans like Craig can find any number of questionable tactical decisions in his tenure that they would have done differently.
    At the end of the day, though, the guy’s one of the best who ever did his job. He was by no means perfect, and he probably isn’t the best ever at what he did. But if all of us excelled in our jobs the way Cox did in his, our bosses would probably be pretttyy satisfied. Good on you, Bobby. Best wishes for a great retirement.

  3. Reflex - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    I am not mocking you for being a Phillies fan. I’m mocking you for turning each and every thread into one about you. Not about the Phils even, but about you personally. Your fellow Phils fans do not defend you. The community on every blog you participate on hates you. You disrupt any attempt at meaningful discussion. You make your team and your city look bad, and unsportsmanlike.
    Pay attention to some of your fellow Phils fans. Jonny5 was very classy in these comments, and he’s as die hard as they come. There is such a thing as winning graciously just as you can lose graciously.
    As for me, I don’t have a team because the team I grew up emotionally invested in is a short season single A team(Eugene Emeralds). If they were local I’d still go to those games, despite how nice Safeco is. At the major league level the franchise I admire the most is probably the Rays, but they play in the league I like the least(as do the M’s, unfortunatly) and on the wrong end of the country, so there isn’t much of a point. I don’t see picking a team as the same thing as choosing a favorite hat or jersey, to my mind it needs more of a connection than that for me, and none of them have any since I didn’t grow up rooting for them.
    One thing that I have found helpful is fantasy baseball, which I quite enjoy. But it builds fans of individual players(CarGo!), not teams. I guess I could say I’m a super fan of my fantasy baseball team, which has won half the championships in the decade my dynasty league has existed. ;)

  4. Dasher521 - Oct 12, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    I can’t believe the Giants had a celebration! They haven’t won anything yet! All the teams do it, celebrate. There really isn’t any need for singling out one team because they celebrated.

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