What do I think about when I think about Bobby Cox? I think about his stoic expression, crossed arms resting on his endearing potbelly, sitting next to an emotionally challenged, chronically rocking Leo Mazzone. I think of Bobby waddling out to the field to argue a call in his uniform which makes him look like a 7 year old wearing a Halloween costume. I think of press conferences when he chuckles and laughs in a manner that is so contrary to his demeanor in the dugout. I think about how every player that he has ever managed says he was the best manager they have ever played for. I think that in such an ever-changing, uncertain landscape like sports, especially in the free agent era, the Braves were as steady as they go (other than the black-hearted Yankees, but that’s a different matter) and there was one constant during those constant years – Bobby Cox. Players came and went. Ownership changed. Even the long-time General Manager John Schuerholz finally changed. But not Bobby. Bobby was going to be there; well, unless he was thrown out. Chipper Jones has been there forever it seems. But even before Chipper, there was Bobby.
And now that’s over. It’s going to be very odd to see someone else wearing that No. 6 Atlanta Braves jersey. It’s going to be weird to see someone else get thrown out 158 times. It’s going to be weird watching someone else do all the things Bobby Cox did. But even if they finished their Braves career with exactly the same numbers, they won’t be Bobby Cox. Bobby brought stability to an unstable franchise – the worst in the league. Bobby made old, beer-gutted men wearing ill-fitting polyester outfits and waddling around under bright lights cool for the first time since disco died. Okay, that one might just be me. What can I say? He entertained me to no end. He was both a gentlemen and a fiery competitor. Always one to keep a cool head, Cox never balked at rushing out to the public and emotional defense of his players. He was able to get players – even the high profile ones – to buy into his philosophy and play as a team. Bobby personified the term “players manager.” And that is what I will remember. And that is what I will miss.