Cox has earned the right to wait before determining his future
Just as the Braves are providing reason to wonder if they’re capable of what seemed to be the impossible last week, we now find ourselves going back to a topic that we touched on when they were struggling in June.
At the time, I pointed out that time had allowed me to learn that I’d shown my youth four or five years ago, when I wrote that Braves manager Bobby Cox had earned the right to manage this club as long as he wanted.
Cox has repeatedly said that he’ll continue to manage as long as he possesses a passion for the competition that awaits him when he takes his seat on the bench on a nightly basis.
Via the relationship that I’ve formed with Bobby over the last nine years, I can honestly say that passion is going to be extend beyond the time, when age prevents him from possessing the mental capacities necessary to capably handle all of the daily responsibilities a manager possesses.
With his bullpen decisions and the stubborn loyalty he’s shown Greg Norton, Cox has caused many of us to wonder if that time has already arrived.
And behind those closed doors in the Braves front office, you can be assured that the Braves execs have assumed their responsibility of evaluating whether Cox is still the right man for the job.
But at the end of the day, Cox obviously can’t and won’t be treated just like any other individual in his role. When Chipper Jones has referred to him as the grandfatherly figure that we’ve all come to love, he speaks for players, coaches, execs and media members.
With John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, the Braves have already experienced two emotionally-challenging goodbyes this year. Pushing Cox out before he’s ready to say goodbye would prove to be even harder and possibly much more damaging.
When Cox arrived to serve as the Braves general manager in 1986, the club was the laughingstock of baseball. Those 14 consecutive division titles that soon followed were more than just a product of the contributions he provided when he assumed the managerial role midway through the 1990 season.
Cox brought a sense of professionalism to the Braves organization and rebuilt the farm system that John Schuerholz successfully continued to procure once he assumed the GM role.
Without Cox, there may have never been a Doyle Alexander-for-John Smoltz trade and a less patient GM might have traded Glavine after he won just 33 of his first 74 decisions. And aren’t you still thankful that he took Todd Van Poppel’s advice and took some kid named Chipper Jones with the first pick in the 1990 Draft.
That’s why at the end of the day, I think you could argue that Cox ranks right there with Hank Aaron and Warren Spahn as the greatest legends to ever grace the organization.
Because of all that he’s provided this organization, Cox has indeed earned the right to stick around at least one more year. But at the same time, the 68-year-old skipper may have to push some of his stubborn loyalties aside and do so with the understanding that there will have to be some changes made to his coaching staff before the start of the 2010 season.
Like was mentioned in this forum a few months ago, Cox isn’t any different than Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden, who have been forced to rely more heavily on their coaching staffs as they’ve continued to win their battles against Father Time.
This isn’t to say there would have to be a major overhaul on the coaching staff. But the organization could benefit from parting ways with a couple members of Cox’s staff and also changing the roles of some of the other current coaches.
Before any of these decisions are made, Cox will have to tell the Braves that he is indeed committed to returning for the 2010 season.
Like each of us, Cox is affected by the daily change of emotions the game of baseball brings. While he might have exited the Sept. 6 game against the Reds wondering if it was truly time to spend more time with his wife and family, the six wins in the seven games that have followed have certainly altered his mindset.
In a perfect world, it would be nice to have already learned whether Cox wants at least one more chance to skipper the organization that he once resurrected. But at the same time, I think it’s safe to say that he’s also earned the right to delay this decision for at least a few more days or weeks.