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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. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:04 PM

    Now Craig can be grumpy for a night, then tomorrow baseball will just be baseball. He’ll write the daily article ripping Phillies fans and Yankers fans. But he’ll be over the Braves NLDS loss. And that’s why he can’t be taken seriously when he rips us…and that’s why I’ll never worry about anything Craig says about us. He is an NBC blog baseball writer first…and a “liker of the Braves” second.

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:06 PM

    No, Chris. I am a human being first. A father. A husband. A son. A person responsible for others both in my personal and professional life. Somewhere way down the list comes sports fan.
    I’m sorry if this makes me someone who to be ignored in your eyes. I’m even more sorry for you if your personal life is so empty that you must find the highest of joys and the lowest of sorrows professional sports.

  3. FrankZappa - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    it’s okay, Craig…let it out man, just let it out…we’re here for you…

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    I am a human being, a husband and father too Craig…what does any of that have to do with being a sports fan?? There are wars going on around the world too…should we stop rooting for our teams playing a kid’s game because of those too??? I believe you have been a complete dick to Phillies fans(and to a lesser degree Yankers fans). On the one hand, you tell everyone how great the Phillies are…then on the other hand, you tell everyone how over-confident the Phillies fans are. Which is it, Craig? are we supposed to be confident in our team…or are we supposed to be worried and insecure? Should we lack humility or should we love our team?

  5. nps6724 - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:17 PM

    Well he IS a Philly fan. So I presume he’s from Philadelphia. So yeah, you’re most likely right with that last sentence.

  6. nps6724 - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    I take it back. I hope the Giants and Phillies somehow BOTH get swept, logic be damned.

  7. Citi Field Urinal - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:25 PM

    So all I have to do to become a “true sports fan” is have a borderline neurotic obsession with my teams and allow the results of said teams to dictate my emotions for the next week? Sounds like fun!
    I lived through the Mets collapsing in 2007 and 2008. It took maybe three hours combined for me to stay a little pissed and then get on with my life. If anything, I would laud Craig for being able to take a postseason loss in stride.

  8. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    “On the one hand, you tell everyone how great the Phillies are…then on the other hand, you tell everyone how over-confident the Phillies fans are. Which is it, Craig?”
    Both. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. The Phillies are a fabulous team. The Phillies have also won precisely nothing yet. Confidence is one thing. It’s a wonderful thing. Assuming the rest of the playoffs are a formality and continually disrespecting other teams is another thing altogether. One can support their team without being a dick about it. It’s something some Phillies fans — not all, but some, and more than fans of other teams I’ve found this year — seem to have a hard time with. You read the comments around here. You know this is true. Go back and check out the post about the Phillies offsense from early this morning. My observation was an objective fact. The number of comments that either (a) considered that to be some sort of disrespect to the invincible Phillies; or (b) pivoted off of it to take a swipe at another team was pretty astounding frankly.
    “are we supposed to be confident in our team…or are we supposed to be worried and insecure? Should we lack humility or should we love our team?”
    These are false choices. Be confident in your team. Don’t be insecure (and note: my criticisms of Phillies fans being “insecure” have nothing to do with them worrying about the team’s chances. They’re about fans getting upset when others do something other than praise the Phillies without reservation). You should also love your team and show humility. Indeed, the seeming inability of some people to support their team while simultaneously showing some degree of humility is my biggest beef with overzealous fans.
    But let’s not forget, Chris: you started this by saying that I should not be taken seriously because I don’t live with a Braves loss for days on end. Your references to wars around the world are fun, but they’re complete straw men. My view is that if grown men like us are truly suffering for days because of the results of a professional sports contests, we need to a serious dose of perspective. If you disagree about that then, well, we will simply disagree.

  9. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    Craig wants to rip Phillies fans…call us lacking humility or call us insecure, yet he gets called out and he plays the “I’m a family man” card. BS. If you want to rip fans…true fans…then be one yourself. and yeah, you are a Mutts fan. I’m not surprised you don’t get it. I am pretty sure you won’t see any Yankers or Phillies fans disagreeing with what I am saying…it’s what makes us the best fans in baseball.

  10. f*ck la - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    Damn someone just got put in his place. You had to been waiting to say that someone.
    Prediction: Giants worst team to make it to world series

  11. btufts - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:34 PM

    Methods of controlling fans – cannabis or tasers – compare and contrast.

  12. Rollo - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:36 PM

    Kind of ironic that a player named “Cabrera” made the last out of Bobby Cox’ final game. But lightning doesn’t strike twice, and Melky didn’t come through in the clutch.

  13. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:38 PM

    Suffering for days is very subjective Craig. You know what I mean. Sports Illustrated commercial comes on giving away Yankers 2009 WS shit and I’m changing the channel. I don’t even want to see the SI issue that comes in after the loss. I don’t even want to look at my baseball glove and I certainly don’t want some blogger who doesn’t know anything about Philadelphia and our fans to come on here telling me that I am insecure…or I am lacking humility.
    One minute you write a blog entry saying “Who is going to beat the Phillies” then the next you are writing “Every team’s fans think their team may have some trouble in the post season except the Phillies, whose fans think they already won the 2010 World Series” The only difference between me and you is that I am a Phillies fan and think they are going to win the World Series and you are a Braves fan and think the Phillies are going to win the World Series.

  14. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:40 PM

    Chris: I cannot “be a fan myself,” at least by your definition, because it is that very definition of a fan that I am ripping. If we could see eye-to-eye on the appropriate temperament with which to approach professional sports, we would have no disagreement. What we’re arguing about — at least I think — is what is a reasonable amount of fervor for a fan of a certain age to have. I think it’s far less than you do. You think it’s far more than I do. That IS the disagreement. In light of this, it would make just as much sense for me to say to you: “If you want to rip me for being a person who doesn’t live or die based on how my team does, you should be a person who doesn’t live or die by what his team does.”
    But it makes no sense. Because we approach fandom differently. Surely you can distinguish between someone ripping the Phillies and ripping Phillies fans, can’t you? That may be the very root of the problem here. I’ll cop to the latter. I don’t think you can find me doing the former at all, however, except for cases when I was being sarcastic.

  15. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    There is a difference between (1) making an objective judgment — as I have frequently done — that the Phillies are the strongest team in baseball; and (2) saying “The Phillies are the best! No one’s gonna beat them because they’re awesome, and don’t you dare say differently, Wooo!”
    The stuff I’m ripping is the latter.

  16. f*ck la - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    If by “best” you mean most dickish. Wow Chris youre a douche.

  17. Jeremy - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    Craig, I’m a diehard Giants fan, and while I’m happy at this outcome, the Braves played their hearts out this year. I know that if Prado and Chipper were healthy, this series could have had a completely different outcome. Heck, if there were more or fewer sunspots on Friday or Sunday this series could have had a different outcome. Having followed the Giants for a little longer than you’ve followed the Braves (we’re almost exactly the same age, I think), I’ve been on the other side of a series like this more than a few times.
    If our situations were reversed, if I were the blogger and you the reader and the Braves had won, I would have been a hundred times more apoplectic. Thank you for hanging with a crazy series and not sacrificing the quality of your writing or your passion.

  18. Citi Field Urinal - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    “and yeah, you are a Mutts fan”
    >> Yes, I am. This information is relevant how? You look like a moron.
    “I’m not surprised you don’t get it.”
    >> Being apoplectic after a loss, and having my emotions dictated because of the result of a baseball game? You’re right, I don’t get it and I never will.
    “I am pretty sure you won’t see any Yankers or Phillies fans disagreeing with what I am saying.”
    >> I know plenty of people who are the antithesis to you and your ravings. You’re the minority, actually.
    “it’s what makes us the best fans in baseball.”
    >> Keep telling yourself that. Personally, people like you who feel so compelled to call everyone’s fandom into question if they don’t share your fervor for the team and people who repulse me.
    Do you honestly have an objective bone in your body?

  19. froggy - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    Most readers don’t care whom you losers want to win and who doesn’t, whether it’s tearing you up or not.
    Is this no longer a news site? I ask this seriously.

  20. Jeremy - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:48 PM

    I was under the impression that this was never a news site. This is an opinion site.

  21. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:49 PM

    Craig, I don’t care if you think the Phillies suck. Doesn’t make a bit of difference to me. That’s your opinion, and as wrong as I think you would be, it’s your opinion. What I don’t like is when you talk about lack of humility from Phillies fans…when you, as a Braves fan, are just as confident that the Phillies are going to win the World series as we Phillies fans are. All that other stuff about being a true fan is completely subjective…I agree. Obviously, you don’t know about the “gut punch” loss, or the ways we can live with sports losses for years and years. If you think I don’t still hate when they show Joe F’ing Carter hitting that Home Run in 93, then you don’t know the kind of fans we have here in Philadelphia. 100 World Series wins won’t remove that heartache.

  22. ScottBravesfan - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    Philly fans are not the best fans in baseball. Jesus I went to a Phillies game back in 2002 and there were 12,000 fans there. I guess the Blackhawks are the best fans in hockey because they sell out their stadium too now that their team is good? Yankee fans are not the best fans in baseball either. When I was a kid in the early 90s the Montreal Expos outdrew the Yankees. No one went to yankee stadium until they started winning again. If you want to see the best fans in baseball check out the fans that show up to Kansas City Royals games. Look at the fans that show up to Brewer games or people that are still Pirate fans. Those are the best fans in baseball. Those franchises have been terrible forever, especially the Royals and Pirates. Just like if you want to see the best fans in basketball look at the people that still attend Clipper games. Those people are hard core. It’s easy to like a team when they are good trying pulling for a team that has not had a winning season in 20 years.

  23. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    f*ck la and citi field urinal…with two classy names like that, why do you guys think I would ever get into any type of debate with you? Stay classy boys.

  24. ScottBravesfan - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    It’s a blog not a news site froggy.

  25. froggy - Oct 11, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    The fanboy stuff straddles a line.
    You have two guys who manage to work the Phillies into every comments section.
    It’s not good reading — and a lot of it has been before the postseason.

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