Question of the day: Where does Bobby Cox rank in the pantheon of MLB managers? [Updated]
Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
Winning with the Yankees is one thing. Winning with the Braves is another. Winning when players grumble about you is one thing. Winning when players universally respect -– and often genuinely love you -– is another.
Bobby Cox did it the right way. That’s why he was able to manage 21 seasons with the Braves, a period in which the other National League teams ripped through 106 managers. There is no question he is one of the greatest managers ever.
He’s not one of the 22 managers with multiple World Series victories, but ranks alongside Tony La Russa as one of the greatest managers of his era, ahead of Joe Torre, who won four World Series with the Yankees. He’s on a whole different level than the likes of Tommy Lasorda, Cito Gaston and Tom Kelly, who all won the World Series twice.
Put him on the managerial Mt. Rushmore alongside Connie Mack, Joe McCarthy, Sparky Anderson and La Russa.
[Updated at 9:02 a.m.:
Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times
There are a number of ways to measure a manager's success, but chief among them is: Did he win? And Bobby Cox was certainly a winner: Of managers who started their careers after 1900, only Tony La Russa has won more games, and that's only because he has managed three years longer.
Cox's Braves won 14 consecutive division titles, a streak unmatched in American professional sports. By way of comparison, the Pirates had only two winning seasons during that span.
And Atlanta averaged 97 wins during that streak. Only two teams won more games even once in a single season in the last five years.
Cox's Achilles' heel was the postseason. Although he made the World Series five times in eight seasons, he won just once, and his postseason record is under .500.
In terms of longevity and consistency, however, no one can match Cox, whose legacy as one of the best ever is sealed.]
[Updated at 12:02 p.m.:
Dean Jones Jr., Baltimore Sun
As the Atlanta Braves were eliminated from the playoffs, the surreal thought that one of baseball’s greatest managers was never going to be in the Turner Field dugout again became a reality.
Bobby Cox’s career is defined by the Braves’ 14 consecutive division titles from 1991 to 2005 –- the model of consistency among major league managers.
Although Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics teams only finished with a winning record in 25 of his 50 seasons, the longtime skipper sits comfortably atop the managerial wins list with 3,731.
Veteran Yankees managers Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel and Joe Torre don’t rank ahead of Cox in all-time victories, but their teams were able to win when it counted –- in the World Series.
While Cox’s teams frequently made quick exits from the playoffs, his five National League pennants and one World Series championship easily make him one of the top five managers in history.]
Photo: Bobby Cox waves to the crowd in Atlanta after his final game as Braves manager Monday. Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images