HAS COX mellowed with age? These figures may help you decide.
Total Ejections, First 14 Seasons: 48
Total Ejections, Next 14 Seasons: 98
THE 148TH ejection, on June 21, 2009, involved a little-known pitcher named Eric O'Flaherty, who had come to the Braves after finishing the previous season with an ERA of 20.25. On O'Flaherty's first day at Turner Field, Cox came up and talked with him for half an hour, covering numerous topics that had nothing to do with baseball. It was the longest talk O'Flaherty ever had with a manager. Then, when O'Flaherty needed some shower shoes, Cox offered his own pair.
Anyway, the 148th ejection completed a chain reaction that began when O'Flaherty threw a pitch that seemed to disobey the laws of physics. Viewed from the mound it crossed the heart of the plate. Viewed from behind the plate, where umpire Bill Hohn stood, it missed the plate entirely. O'Flaherty protested. Hohn took the bait. Chipper Jones stepped in to defend O'Flaherty. Cox stepped in to defend them both. Hohn ejected all three.
The Braves lost to the Red Sox 6--5, dropping their record to 32--36. But this is when the momentum turned in the 2009 season. The Braves won their next game and 54 of their next 88, nearly overtaking the Rockies in the wild-card race before going cold at the end of September.
After Cox is ejected, his team wins the next night's game more than 60% of the time. The momentum turns and then keeps going.
Coach and Athletic Director magazine: What has been the secret to your success in a profession that discards managers like yesterday's newspaper?
Cox: Good players. We've had good players here forever. Whatever little success I've had, that would be the key.
AFTER THIS SEASON, at age 69, at the time of his own choosing, Bobby Cox will take himself out of the game. Even then he won't really leave. Sure, he'll spend more time with his wife and the 14 kids who call him Gran-Bobby, but he'll stay with the Braves in the nebulous role of "consultant," scouting the minors for more good players.