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The umpire reared back and made a grand sweeping motion with his right arm, as if to hurl Cox out of the stadium. Cox ignored the gesture. He hobbled toward Barrett, reconstructed knees and all, to finish the conversation. This was a mild eruption for Cox: no screaming, no bumping, no flying tobacco juice. He held up both hands, index fingers outstretched, as if to demonstrate the gaping chasm between the pitch and the plate. Then he returned to the dugout, limped down the steps and disappeared into the tunnel.
The Braves woke up. Mark Teixeira led off the next inning with a 408-foot home run. The fans stirred. A tribal drumbeat filled the stadium. Shortstop Yunel Escobar smoked a two-run double to right, and outfielder Matt Diaz drove in another run with a pinch-hit single to give the Braves a 4--3 lead. In the bottom of the ninth, after the Giants had tied it at four, the first two Braves reached base. That brought up Jones, the man Cox had saved from ejection. Jones bashed a low fastball into the left-center gap, and the winning run ambled home.
Reporters surrounded Cox in his office after the game, and Cox did what he always does. He praised the players who had done well and found nice things to say about those who hadn't. The reporters listened politely, waiting for an opening to discuss the real story of the evening. According to an unofficial tally by David Vincent of the Society for American Baseball Research, Cox had just broken the alltime ejections record, with 132. (Since then, four previously overlooked ejections have surfaced, meaning he had actually broken John McGraw's mark more than three months earlier.) "What happened with Barrett there?" a reporter finally asked.
"Barrett, the umpire."
Slowly, with no expression, Cox responded: "I don't know."
He did know, of course, but he was ashamed. Fifty-two days had passed since his last ejection—nearly double his average interval—as he held his tongue and tried to forestall this moment.
"Bobby," a reporter said, "I know you don't love to talk about it. Can you speak to breaking the—"
"—the ejection record?"