Monday, July 17, 2006

Chasing McGraw

They said no one could ever touch it. They didn't plan on Bobby Cox. As the Atlanta Braves engage in a pivotal series with The St. Louis Cardinals, Bobby Cox stands on the cusp of greatness. After getting the heave-ho against the Padres on Sunday, he is only 8 ejections away from tieing the venerable John McGraw for the highest number of said exits in Major League history.

Surely, it is an achievement to be marvelled. The ability to incite the infallible, reasoned men who act as baseball's on-field arbiters is nothing short of art. To do it over 120 times is something few can hope to accomplish in their lifetimes.

Sadly, though, some feel Cox's pursuit of McGraw's ghost is tainted by the modern game. Witness, if you will, the thoughts of one of my fellow Braves fans...relayed via e-mail this afternoon:

It's just not the same as in the old days. I mean, nowadays there's all that watered down umping going on. Plus, with all the vitamins and extra fiber that old people are getting...I saw a picture of Bobby from his rookie year, and he looks nothing like it. I mean he didn't fill out that Yankees uniform at all, but he looks huge in the Braves one. Can we say juicing?
- G. Mac

I really want to disagree, I want to scream that I am not looking at the world through Braves colored glasses. The damning evidence, though, is plain when presented in photographs:

Bobby Cox with the Yankees, circa 1967

Here, we see the young, spry Cox as he starts off his Major League journey. Free of Ejections, and yet unknowingly poised to make his mark on the record books.

Now, we take a look at the man who is primed to be tossed more times than Tom Cruise in Key West:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Bobby Cox Today

Based on the visual evidence, it's certainly a compelling argument. One that Bob Ley is sure to address on Outside The Lines in the near future.

As for me, I'm taking Bobby's side. We've become so cynical as baseball fans, that we refuse to believe that a manager can get the gate solely on dogged determination, and a single-minded focus on his craft. After all, this is a man Ozzie Guillen lists as a major influence in his managerial career.

He has never tested positive for these alleged "performance enhancers", and has there is nothing tangible to prove he would test otherwise. For now I say, don't let the naysayers get you down, Bobby - go get your record! This fan just hopes he's able to break it at home.


Nick said...

Great post. I for one think he can break the record this year. Tensions are high in Atlanta and things aren't going their way this season. Even this recent hot streak has probably made him excitable.

I hope MLB celebrates this in only a way that would have Cox grumbling from the dugout and throwing his hands in the air.

Eric said...

You know what they say - When the weather heats up, Cox just goes flyin' out of Turner Field.

If members of McGraw's family aren't there to celebrate his achievement, that would be disgraceful. I hope they do the right thing.

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