I've been reading a lot this morning on yesterday's Braves/Cubs trade that sent Derrek Lee to Atlanta, and, while it's not surprising, I'm struck by how much Bobby Cox directly figures into the deal.
Much has been made of the fact that the Braves' skipper is in his final season of a Hall of Fame career, especially when he visits cities for the last time and gets cool gifts (the cowboy hat from the Astros being my personal favorite). We've also heard how much players enjoy having him as their manager. A lot of guys are considered "players managers," but often it's a cliche to reference a guy who lets his charges pretty much do what they want. Not so with Cox. He runs a tight ship. It's his way or you're out - just ask Kenny Lofton and Yunel Escobar.
In my eight-plus years as a talk show host, and in the years prior when I was just a really big Braves fan, I've been perhaps the biggest Cox supporter I know. Callers routinely blame Cox for the Braves' World Series failures. In more recent seasons many fans have blamed him directly for the team's failure to make the playoffs, completely ignoring the massive failures of Time-Warner's ownership and the subsequent indifference Liberty Media has shown since they acquired the team. Yet Terry McGuirk, Frank Wren and Cox have plugged along, corporate shackles and all. The minor league system continues to produce fantastic talent, and free agent acqusitions like Tim Hudson and Billy Wagner have solidified key spots on the club.
As I read Ken Rosenthal's piece today on the Lee trade, I was so happy to learn just how much Cox's reputation and influence factored into not only Lee's choice to waive his no trade clause, but in the desire of Troy Glaus to VOLUNTEER to go on the DL, head to AAA Gwinnet and get some time in at third base, bad knees and all.
Guys on other clubs want to be in Atlanta, while the guys already in Atlanta look at Bobby like their dad and want to do all they can for him. They feel that way because they know he'll always have their back, no matter what. That's very special, and very rare, especially in today's world.
A lot of us are fortunate to work for good people. A lot of us aren't. We don't always achieve the goals we strive for or are capable of, but just imagine how much better off we would be if we all went to work for someone like Bobby Cox every day.
Here's hoping the Braves close out his career with the ultimate prize, but if they don't, they can rest easy knowing they went to work for a guy who genuinely strives to make everyone around him a little better every day. That's pretty cool.