But that's Cox. All business. No showboating.That last part is for sure. It seems like the Braves have had more than their fair share of head-scratching trades and transactions. Within a few days of almost all of them, however, you hear that the player involved somehow crossed Bobby Cox or otherwise upset the orderly apple cart he has created in the Braves' clubhouse. To John Schuerholz and Frank Wren's credit, very few of these deals have really bitten Atlanta in the butt, and the Braves have almost never had a clubhouse problem. I still think chemistry is overrated on any given team, but I think that there is value in organizational order and continuity over time that serves as a defacto code of conduct. Cox has certainly created that in Atlanta.
He is the same way with his players. Walt Weiss remembers his first year with the Braves. He made a base-running mistake. Word came that Cox wanted to talk to him. Weiss went into the office. "We don't do that here," was the extent of Cox's address. Weiss got the message.
When a player shows up and plays loud music in the clubhouse, Cox doesn't say a word. One of the veterans, a Chipper Jones or John Smoltz, will inform the newcomer that headphones are required so that there is no infringement on teammates' privacy. It's a professional way of getting a job done that comes from the respect Cox has earned from the players.
It's Cox's way, and when players don't fit, no matter how talented they may be, they
Posnanski noted today that, just maybe, "there is no best manager in baseball." I think that conclusion only applies if you're subjecting the candidates to an overly-narrow set of criteria. Sure, the Braves probably coulda shoulda woulda won an extra World Series or two, but I'm struggling to see how that is Bobby Cox's fault any more than it was Lonnie Smith's or Eric Gregg's or Charlie Liebrandt's. Or, more to the point, outrageous misfortune, frustrating happenstance, and simply dumb luck. And really, if you're going to give him demerits for losing four World Series', don't you have to give him credit for winning five pennants? Doesn't that more than balance him out against anybody save maybe Joe Torre?
In my estimation, Bobby Cox is the best manager in baseball and has been for a couple of decades now. I'd make Torre a moderately close second, and after that is a lot of space exists between them and the next closest set of contenders (a pack which includes La Russa, Scioscia, and maybe Piniella).
Or am I missing something here?