Friday, August 12, 2011

Old Number 6

The Atlanta Braves are retiring Bobby Cox's number tonight.  This is a slightly revised re-run of a post I did last September:

Bobby Cox was the manager of the Atlanta Braves, a position he held from 1990 to 2010 (after stints as manager and general manager with the Braves and another team). He’s won just a couple more than 2,500 games, fourteen Division Titles (in fifteen years, the missing year, baseball went on strike) and a World Series (making it to a few more).  But those aren’t the important things.

Bobby is the ultimate manager. No one in baseball has a bad thing to say about him. He’s universally praised by executives, managers, coaches and players.

He’s been second-guessed by fans and reporters. He leaves players in too long. He goes with veterans too long. Great season record, playoffs not so much. All true to an extent.

He’s been thrown out of more than 150 games, a world record (he is said to have written a check for $10K at one point and sent it with a note to let him know when it ran out). You see, he’d rather pay the fine and spend a few innings in the clubhouse, keeping the arguing player, that he stepped in front of, in the game, to get a hit or make a catch.

He never says much of any significance to the press, and what he says is always positive about his players (even though he and everyone else knows he’s blowing smoke). They know he’s got their backs. (He mentioned to a reporter who was questioning a young player’s abysmal offense that the player had a swing like Stan Musial. The player started swinging like the legend.)

He doesn’t have many rules. Show up. Play hard. Don’t show off. Play for the team, not yourself. Break those rules enough and you’re gone, no matter how great your potential or your performance (See e.g., Kenny Lofton, Gary Sheffield, David Justice, most recently, Yunel Escobar). Follow those rules and you have a home for as long as your ability lasts (Chipper Jones, Greg Norton, Brian McCann, Javy Lopez, Eddie Perez – now a coach).

He treats players like adults and expects them to act that way. And they do. When was the last time you heard of a Braves player arrested or involved in a scandal? They’re very, very few and very, very far between. He gets the most out of his players, last year’s team, with injury after injury is a perfect example.

Any one out there that runs a company or teaches business? Bobby Cox would be the perfect case study for a course in how to manage people.


The Curmudgeon said...

Ozzie Guillen loves Mr. Cox -- he has said so many times -- and has emulated Mr. Cox's penchant for getting tossed from games. Ozzie's approach to the media is, however, slightly different. Then again, Mr. Cox probably didn't have a son with a Twitter following.

But -- bleeps aside -- like Mr. Cox, Ozzie takes a lot of heat off his players by his statements and (usually) is positive when talking about those in his charge.

Even Adam Dunn and Alex Rios.

And, let me tell you, this year that takes some doing.

Dave said...

Bobby threw the first pitch to Chipper Jones tonight, he shook the hands of the umpires and Tim Timmons threw him the hook - out of the game and Chipper is still in.

Big Mark 243 said...

cool post... there was an article in Sports Illustrated a few years ago that wrote about Bobby Cox in a similar vein...

Jeni said...

Sounds like my kind of boss! Actually, sounds like he has a lot of the same methods in management as my old boss -from way back in my life (like 40 plus years ago) had! Only problem with having one boss like that is that you tend to expect the next ones to behave the same and it gets really depressing when you realize the rest of the crowd have no clue!