Bobby Cox has done a lot of things in his lengthy managerial career — win a hell of a lot of division titles, a World Series ring, and field a regularly competitive team year in and year out when that’s getting harder and harder to do in baseball. As long as he has been in the dugout, he’s now approaching a record he’d rather not note or talk about: the one for most ejections, currently holding at 131 for John McGraw. Cox is only four tirades away from having that record for himself. Even if he doesn’t want to observe it, it doesn’t mean his players and the umpires won’t.
“He’d rather us stay in the game,” says Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, “and him get ejected.”
Even umpires give a thumbs up for the way Cox gets thumbed out.
“He takes the heat off all his players. And that’s the job of a good manager,” says veteran umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, whose father, Harry, also argued with Cox during a 32-year umpiring career. “He knows what to do. He’s an expert at it. And it’s part of the game.”
The all-time ejection list isn’t the only one Cox is climbing. This month he moved past Sparky Anderson into fourth place on the all-time wins list with 2,195. And in the last 38 years only two managers, Earl Weaver (.583) and Davey Johnson (.564), have a higher lifetime winning percentage than Cox’s .563.
Despite Cox’s number of heave-hos, very few of them have been of the insane, earth-shaking, base-throwing, spit-flecking insanity we’ve come to know and love from folks like, say Lou Piniella, Billy Martin, and Weaver, who holds the American League record for getting tossed, and the gem below is a perfect display of what we expect when we see a manager go up to swap obscenities with an umpire:
Weaver admits that the frustration that carries over into such an argument has to do with putting your feelings into the game, trying to protect your players, and even inspire your squad if it’s not doing well. And the tirade on YouTube above is one of the more notable examples — every time Lou Piniella goes out to argue a call, world geologists are put on red alert for another eruption of Vesuvius-level proportions, a minor rumble displayed in the opening of a profile on HBO’s Real Sports:
The LAT article also notes Bobby Valentine’s prank when he was with the Mets — coming back to the dugout hidden behind Groucho Marx-style glasses and mustache.So, Cox may own that record, but he won’t really be the name you associate with disgruntled managers who can go off like a 2-liter bottle of shaken soda at any time. He’ll be the quietest record-holder we have.
Thumbed out, but thumbs up [L.A. Times]
(Photo: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)