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Wednesday, June 13, 2001

NATIONAL POST ONLINE Lessons continue for former pupil

Buck Martinez thinks, “He [Bobby Cox] should go to the Hall of Fame. He’s the dominant manager of his era.” I agree.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 13, 2001 at 01:22 PM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark

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   1. Jay Jaffe Posted: June 14, 2001 at 04:29 AM (#69271)
My sentiments exactly, Donald. Cox is a fine manager for the long haul, but his postseason record leaves much to be desired. Besides Torre, he's lost out to Tom Kelly, Cito Gaston, Jim Leyland, Bruce Bochy, Tony LaRussa. Good managers all, yet none (okay, maybe LaRussa) hailed as the answer to Casey Stengel.

I've been doing a lot of research on Tommy Lasorda lately, and thinking about his methods in the context of what constitutes a great manager. Lasorda's tactics were overshadowed by his personality, by and large, but one would have to say that he made his personality part of his tactics. What I mean is, when Lasorda's teams showed a weakness, he could deflect attention away from that though his own magnetism, and rally the troops at the same time. Think of the 1988 World Series, where he won with a cleanup hitter who batted .196, among a patchwork of role players pressed into duty by injuries.

Lasorda's not alone in his force-of-personality shtik. Pepperpots like Billy Martin and Earl Weaver pulled as much or more out of less talented ballclubs and acted as lightning rods for the attention. Their teams were almost always in contention.

Cox, on the other hand, has always struck me as somewhat bloodless. I've seen the man blow up over bad calls, but I also get the sense that he's not one to resort to the kind of win-one-for-the-Gipper pep talk that a team might sometimes need. I know this may sound stupid, when we sit here analyzing statistics and tendencies, but the manager of the team sets the tone. Torre's professionalism, Martin's aggressiveness, Lasorda's B.S., whatever it takes...

Character doesn't win ballgames, but the collective attitude of a team does have an impact on how they play. The Braves seem to lack a hunger to get over the hump at critical times, and in my eyes that's a reflection of the manager. Dominance of the NL East and the National League during the course of the past decade--that I will concede to Cox. But he falls short beyond that measure.
   2. The Original Gary Posted: June 14, 2001 at 01:10 PM (#69272)
The funny thing about Joe Torre is that he was never considered a great manager when he was with the Mets, Braves or Cardinals. Funny how good players turn managers into geniuses.

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