On Sunday afternoon, Bobby Cox won the 2,504th game of his managerial career, and it just may have been the most important.
The Atlanta Braves went 5-7 to close out the 2010 regular season and did everything they could possibly think of to eliminate themselves from a playoff berth, but finally beat the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday in an 8-7 game (that shouldn’t have been that close) to extend the career of Bobby Cox for, at the very least, three more games.
And I guess it shouldn’t have been any other way.
Bobby Cox has never gotten things done the easy way.
I’m not a big Major League Baseball fan — anybody who reads this column knows that — but sports are obviously a big part of my life and, regardless of how fast I change the channel when the MLB is on television to try to find a college football game, I’ll always have a soft spot for the Atlanta Braves and especially for Bobby Cox.
Sure, the last time I actually attended a Braves game was when they played in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The outline of the Falcons logo was still seen faintly down the third-base line and Steve Avery hit a home run (seriously, look it up), but some of my earliest memories are of sitting in the upper deck behind home plate with my dad and watching the Braves go from dreadful (everybody talked about Dale Murphy, but I knew all along that Jeff Blauser, Mark Lemke, Lonnie Smith and Ron Gant had big things in store) to the class of the National League.
And it was all because of Bobby Cox and his stubborn-yet-unwavering philosophy of ignoring the free agency and developing young pitching. And yes, Greg Maddux was an acceptable exception to that rule.
Back then, I knew all the batting averages and ERAs, heck, all the stats, and I used to sneak a tiny black-and-white television under the covers "late" at night when I was supposed to be sleeping so I could watch the NLCS. Of course, I’d always give myself away at the breakfast table the next morning when all I could talk about was last night’s game.
To this day, Terry Pendleton is — in my mind — the greatest player ever to suit up in a Braves’ uniform. Don’t ask me why.
So, whether I’m watching the college football Sun Belt snoozer of the week this Thursday night or checking out Bobby’s last stand in Game 1 of the wild card round, you can bet I’ll get a little bit choked up when it’s all said and done.
To me, the MLB’s loss of Bobby Cox as a manager is more significant even than the retirement of Michael Jordan as a player from the NBA or Joe Montana’s departure from the NFL.
ext season, Major League Baseball just won’t be the same. If I do watch the Braves at all next year, maybe I’ll just pretend Bobby’s still the manager and he got ejected in the first inning 162 times.
UBHEAD: SoCon shakeup
It was supposed to be an unassuming week of Southern Conference football with Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Chattanooga all taking a day off.
Furman was supposed to beat Wofford, Elon was supposed to beat Samford, and The Citadel and Western Carolina were supposed to go toe-to-toe in the "Why Even Bother" Bowl.
Well, Elon let Samford hang around before snapping its two-game losing streak, Western Carolina beat The Citadel (I’m told), and Wofford ran away from then-No. 18 Furman with a convincing 38-17 win in Spartanburg, S.C.
I’ll save you a trip back up to that last paragraph to reread what it said and reiterate – Wofford actually pounded the purple out of Furman.
Look like GSU’s tussle with the Terriers this Saturday at Paulson Stadium just took on a whole new meaning.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.