Bobby Cox hobbled off into retirement last night. He cost himself the game by doing one of the things I hate the most from managers:
7th inning, his team up by a run. Derek Lowe has pitched a great game but it looks like he is tired having given up a walk and a single with one out. Cox comes out to the mound to take him out but Lowe talks Cox into leaving him in. I hate when managers allow a starter to talk them into staying in the game. Of course the starter thinks he can get the next guy. He always thinks that. That's why you have a manager. Cox leaves him in and he walks the next guy to load the bases. Then Cox takes him out but now the reliever is in a very bad spot. One single and the team goes from up by a run to down by a run.
This was a very important game. Too important to leave the decisions up to the players. Like Lisa Simpson said 'players play, managers manage.' Maybe they might have lost anyway but it was a game the Braves had to win and everyone in the bullpen had to be available, you can't lose it by leaving the starter in too long.
That wasn't the only reason they lost the series. Brooks Conrad couldn't make a play if his life depended on it. I wonder if his troubles in the playoffs and at the end of the season will carry over to next season, if he'll end up like Rick Ankiel and have to go down to the minors and recreate himself as a pitcher to make it back to the majors.
Anyway Bobby Cox was the manager for the Jays when first became decent, so I have a fair amount of affection for him.
Cox first year with the Jays was 1982 when the team went 78-84 for a .481%. It might not sound like much but it was a huge step forward for the team. The next year we finished above .500 for the first time (89-73, 4th in the division) and in 1984 we moved up to 2nd, though with the same record. In 1984 we won the division for the first time, finishing 99-62. We lost out in the ALCS in 7 games to the Royals (we were up 3 games to 1 then lost 3 straight). After that season he went back to the Braves where he became GM then moved to manager and has been there ever since. We have had 7 different managers in that time (well 8 if you count Cito twice).
Cox benefitted from the team finally developing some young talented players. He also platooned in spots where we didn't have enough talent. He platooned Ernie Whitt and Buck Martinez at catcher and Rance Mulliniks and Garth Iorg at third. Those pairings lasted for years. He also ran out platoons at DH and occasionally in the outfield.
Cox is number four on the all-time wins list for managers. He has taken teams to the playoffs 16 times (more than any other manager) but only has 1 World Series win. Some of that, of course, was bad luck. He ends his career with 2504 wins and 2001 losses. He won 355 with the Jays, which would have him second to Cito in Franchise history. He has the best win percentage in team history too at .549 (if you ignore Gene Tenace's 33 games, filling in for Cito ). He also holds the MLB record for most ejections.
I guess my affection for the guy ought to be dimmed by his arrest for spousal abuse. Let's say he took all the consoling he was supposed to and has become a better man. He is still married to the same woman, so she forgave him.