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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. schmedley - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    Phillies Fans – stop worrying what other fans think of us. Our team has become a perennial winner, which means that everyone else will be rooting against us. Just like we hated the Braves when they had their run. It’s only natural. People like the underdog, and for the first time in ages, the Phils are no longer the underdog. We are the big, bad bully that terrorizes the neighborhood. Let’s enjoy the ride. It won’t last forever. Let the other fans hate us. I like playing the bad guy roll. I enjoy Craig’s posts and like the fact that he doesn’t hide his allegiances. It would be pretty boring if everyone loved us and threw us compliments all of the time.

  2. jde - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    Oh, and by the way, Chris. I’m a Yankee fan and I think you’re the dick. I don’t know what you’re major malfunction is, but you seem to ruin any sense of community that develops on the blogs on which you post. I’ve asked you before, and I’ll ask you again, please, please, please go away. Or maybe you’d like to debate the merits of batting average again?

  3. jde - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    I don’t know what your* major malfunction is
    .

  4. ScottBravesfan - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    It doesn’t matter. The worth of a baseball manager is how they do over a 162 game season and Bobby is one of the greatest of all time at managing a ball club over a full season. Give the Braves Mariano Rivera in the 1990s and they would have won several world series titles. And what’s the craziest thing, is this is the one year Bobby finally had a shut down closer to go with a great rotation and Wagner gets hurt the first game he is in.

  5. ScottBravesfan - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:47 AM

    Good post. I might hate the Phillies but I respect them and they are clearly the best team in the NL and maybe baseball.

  6. ScottBravesfan - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:48 AM

    choke artist? Are you serious? This Braves team had no business winning 91 games or even being in the playoffs. They lost their two best position players, two members of their rotation, and then finally their closer. No one picked the Braves to win the series so it’s kind of hard to choke at doing something when no one expected you to do it in the first place. Choking would be if the Phillies or the Yankees lost in the playoffs. Those teams are supposed to win. The Braves are still a year or two away from being a real contender.

  7. Citi Field Urinal - Oct 12, 2010 at 3:11 AM

    Chase Utley puts me into a coma of stat-awesomeness.
    Jayson Werth, too.

  8. dprat - Oct 12, 2010 at 3:16 AM

    “Idiots who don’t [sic] anything will say we have no class for booing a tool like Scott Rolen, but we did it and it was loud and it was long and it was every single at bat. You want to think it didn’t affect him… We know differently.”
    Rolen season OPS: 854
    Since Aug 1: 699
    Last 10 days of season: 297
    See a trend?
    Goes 0-7 in two games in Philly in the NLDS as follows:
    0-3 vs a dude throwing a no-hitter
    0-3 vs Oswalt (season ERA 2.76; since Aug 1: 1.41)
    0-1 vs Madson (season ERA 2.55; since Aug 1: 1.07)
    Any trends there?
    So it might be a struggling hitter vs hot pitchers in a teeny, tiny 7 PA sample. But of course you “know” differently.
    By the way, what happened when Rolen crushed a 1265 OPS in CBP in 2009. Forget to boo?

  9. Oscar Gamble - Oct 12, 2010 at 4:24 AM

    Glad to see the Phillies are being crowned the WS champions after sweeping a Reds team that looked and played like they were pooping their pants on the national stage.

  10. Luke Himebaugh - Oct 12, 2010 at 4:39 AM

    This is a baseball blog, where’s all this hatred coming from? I’ve known Craig (his writing at least) for several years, have followed him all the way from his Shysterball days, and have even had several conversations with him via email. I find his writing to be one of the best. And, although I’m a Detroit Tigers fan by birth, I’m a BASEBALL fan overall. Sometimes words hurt, sometimes teams suck (see the aforementioned Tigers), you gotta get over it.
    I take personal offense to the claims that people who don’t carry their teams loss with them are somehow less of a fan. That definitely describes me. Why don’t I carry the heartache of these losses with me? Because, as Criag described, I am a father, a husband, etc., etc.
    And, most of all, I have perspective. I am a Chief in this, the world’s finest Navy, and I have had friends who were on the USS Cole when it was attacked, I knew people who lost family members when the WTC was attacked, I, myself, trained many (MANY) United States Marines in 2003 who never came back from “over there” and I lost my 32yo sister to Breast Cancer earlier this year (she left behind two pre-teen daughters and a husband of 11 years). Right now, I’m deployed in support of this Global War on Terrorism, missing a rash of birthdays and holidays, and missing the birth of my first-born son. You’re damned right I don’t carry the losses of my team with me for days, weeks, seasons, whatever-because in the grand scheme of things, whoever wins and loses in baseball, unless you’re one of the winners or losers, is insignificant and petty.
    I’m 35 years old and I’ve been a baseball fan my entire life and I’d challenge anyone to prove that I’m not as hardcore as the next just because I know that there are real-life things in this world that are significantly more important than the box score after the game, regardless of the significance of the game.

  11. Luke Himebaugh - Oct 12, 2010 at 4:43 AM

    If you guys hate Craig’s writing so much, why the EFF are you reading it and caring about it? This whole line of arguing is utterly ridiculous. The Internet is endless and full of team-centric blogs that you can read and worship your team on…if this were a TV show, would you still watch it as much as you hate it? No, you’d turn the damn channel. So, turn the channel if you despise the writing so much.

  12. Reflex - Oct 12, 2010 at 4:58 AM

    Its telling that the other regular Phils fans never come to Chris’ defense. Even other Phils fans know the guy is a jackass and that he makes the team and its fandom look bad. You know, the biggest accomplishment that Chris has made to this blog has been to make me root for the Yankees should they come up against the Phils. I haven’t rooted for the Yanks since 1998 or so, but this year, more power to them, I’d love to see them crush the Phils two years in a row. And I’m an A-Roid hater.
    As for all this ‘true fan’ bullshit, I submit myself as one of the few ‘true fans’ I know. Why? Because I don’t even have a team. I’m a fan of the game, and I don’t usually care who wins or loses, I care about watching a good matchup with top notch pitching, hitting and defense. I love to see difficult plays made to look effortless, watch the signals game within a game, sign stealing, the coaches on the first and third base sides, positional shifts and strategic sacrifice plays. I live in Seattle, but I grew up almost two hundred miles from here and never had a ‘team’ of my own, instead watching a minor league team that shifted organizations three times during my formative years. This has made me a fan of the game of baseball, and teams that play it well, and as a result I show up for games regardless of whether the local team is winning or losing. And I submit that that is a better fan than Chris or any of the other blowhards I meet(including blowhard M’s fans still mentally living in 2001).
    Luke – Thank you for your service. I have not served, but my brother and sister have and thier experiences put into perspective everything most people think is important. Even if the M’s had won the World Series this year it would have paled beside the birth of my brother’s second son last month. Anyone who’s highs and lows are determined by a sporting event is someone with a very empty life indeed, or at least a pretty poor sense of whats important.

  13. Luke Himebaugh - Oct 12, 2010 at 5:08 AM

    jde, I apologize, that wasn’t intended to be a reply to your comment, it wasn’t directed at you…

  14. Proudly Canadian - Oct 12, 2010 at 6:15 AM

    I said it before and I will say it again. In the future, the Braves will have to make out without their Cox. Bon voyage Bobby.

  15. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    “As for all this ‘true fan’ bullshit, I submit myself as one of the few ‘true fans’ I know. Why? Because I don’t even have a team. I’m a fan of the game, and I don’t usually care who wins or loses, I care about watching a good matchup with top notch pitching, hitting and defense. ”
    Keep on straddling the fence. It’s so easy when you don’t invest anything of yourself in something, then come on here and mock someone who does. The difference between you and me is this…you are a baseball fan and I am a Phillies fan. Nothing wrong with you being what you are…I won’t call you a “jackass” like you so eloquently called me. But to come on here and call me a “jackass” for supporting my team and my fans when you don’t have the balls to pick a side is pretty lame.

  16. Jonny5 - Oct 12, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    I could have sworn I saw Bochy getting pelted last night going back into his dugout after giving Bobby applause. Braves fans were throwing things at the manager of the Giants. Braves fans are just the horriblist ever.

  17. Jonny5 - Oct 12, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    Bobby Cox led the Braves to one hell of a curtain call boys. Woo! I still cannot believe they made it to where they did with that crew of players. Sure, they’re still a great team, but had one thing been different, such as Chipper never being injured (who didn’t see that one coming?) they would have spanked the Giants and went to the big dance in the NL against, yes you guessed it. The team Craig called to be neck and neck with the Braves all season. Well that was before half the team went down injured, and Bobby was able to wiggle his way around all that and end up in the playoffs. Nice job Bobby Cox, this is why you’ve been a skipper this long. Nice job what was left of the Braves. And (fanboy) Craig, even the most fanboyish of all could never have predicted that the Braves would end up where they did healthy. And they limped their way further than anyone (even fanboys) expected. I was impressed by the Braves season to say the least.

  18. Ross - Oct 12, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    Without intending to rub salt, rock, and dirt in the wounds, don’t forget about also not having Saito, making it your top 2 relievers to go with all of the other missing limbs and organs.

  19. ckinney - Oct 12, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    Ah come on guys! (Craig and Chris)! Everyone has their favorite team~~for me it is the Braves first and the Yankees second! Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion! The game is mostly luck of the ball/bat connection and a little skill anyway! Braves started last night with a strong game but then it fell off! That is the way it goes! I am sorry to see Bobby Cox leave as he is a baseball icon and who knows he could have made 175 ejections with another year to play! (lol) No need for all the hateful writing! They will all be back next year and do it all over again! The Phillies are a great team but so are Yankees and Braves and the Giants or they wouldnt have made it that far on the first place!
    There is enough hate in this world, why bring baseball into it!
    So long Bobby and best of luck!
    Go Yankees!!!!!!

  20. ckinney - Oct 12, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    Luke
    That was beautifully said! There are so much more things in life that mean more than a baseball score! I understand that statement of not carrying the losses of your team completely. Sorry that the Braves lost but they played a great season overall!
    Thank you for your service, sir! My Son-in-law is also in the Navy serving his country and missed a lot of his sons first year. Luckily he was there for the birth but had to leave his two week old son to go on deployment on the USS Eisenhower!

  21. G2 - Oct 12, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    I’m a diehard Phillies’ fan that reads Craig’s articles every day. Not because I’m a masochist (or is is sadist, whatever) like Mr. Fiorentino. I read them because I like them. I like that he’s a Braves’ fan. It’s a different perspective for me. I could go down to the Wawa to get a coffee and all the Phillies insight I need. He admits he’s a braves’ fan and he writes from that perspective. I don’t get the hate.
    I also wanted to see the Braves win tonight. I wanted them to win because I wanted to see Bobby Cox at least get to finish his career with a Game 5. I also selfishly wanted the Braves to win so Lincecum would have to pitch Game 5.

  22. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    It’s all cool, man. I already smoothed things over with Craig in private and I’ll leave it at that. His blog entries on the Phillies fans yesterday put me over the top and when I read them last night when I got back from vacation, it ticked me off. It is what it is…just good fun debate. I can do without the personal stuff, and I think my “non-fan” attack was a personal thing that I shouldn’t have done. I’ll leave personal attacks to all the people on here who like to call me names for no good reason except having an opinion and love for a team.

  23. Mr. Heyward - Oct 12, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    Holy F$&%! I go to bed a bit sad and disheartened without opening my laptop and this is what I find in the morning? I was expecting the Braves to fall at some point in these playoffs and they did. I was expecting a nice send off for Bobby and it was pretty damn cool to see when the Giants stood and cheered for him. I was expecting Chris Fiorentino to make some dick comments when the Phillies won and sat around awaiting the winner of this series, and I didn’t see anything at first. Now I see Fiorentino going all ape-shit on this post? A send off to Bobby post? What the hell is your problem? You aren’t my chief opponent on this blog who I have healthy debates with, you’re just an asshole.

  24. skipperxc - Oct 12, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    “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.”
    That right there is pretty much exactly what we’re talking about here. If you’re still pining over a loss *17 years ago*, then you are lost and may God have mercy on your soul.

  25. linfield - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    Sorry, you’re wrong. The whole reason we play sports is to win the championship, and if Cox was truly one of the best managers of all time, he would have won more than one title in those 15 postseason appearances. That’s always going to be a part of his legacy, whether you care to admit it or not. Cox is a lock for the HOF, but not in the discussion for best ever because of those postseason failures.
    In roughly 45 years of major league baseball, the Atlanta Braves have won the incredible low total of one world title, less than what the Florida Marlins have won. At the end of the day, it’s all about the rings.

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