Bobby Cox's Last Spring As Atlanta Braves Manager

Bill HoneycuttContributor IIFebruary 23, 2010

ATLANTA - AUGUST 01:  Manager Bobby Cox #6 of the Atlanta Braves against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 1, 2009 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Bobby Cox is a man of many words, most umpires are aware of that, but none know Cox like his players.

Cox is a players' manager, the type of guy any player wants to play for. Ask any of his former players and they'll tell you that Bobby is no doubt the best manager they have played for. Never has he put himself first, for his players always come first.

If you’re a Braves fan, you know how hard it is to believe that this will be Cox's final time going about the routine. It still hasn't hit me yet, as Cox is the only man I have seen manage the Braves in my lifetime, but it's time for him to pass the torch. For the past 20 years this has been his life and he is ready to move on.

Since 1978, Cox has been in this gig. That's a long time for any coach in any sport. Just to show you how long that is, Cox is the second longest tenured coach in any professional sport, just behind Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz, who has been with them for the past 22 years.

So with that said, its time to start yet another spring training, and Cox is treating it like it’s just another one. Asked if he had thought about this year and spring training being his last, he had this to say: "I honestly don't think about that," he said.

"It hasn't really hit me yet that this is going to be my last year. And it probably won't until right at the end of the season. I haven't, honestly, given any thought to that at all. It's business as usual, and I'm trying to do the best job I can and win a World Series."

Cox also says that his players don't think about it either, and he's not trying to use himself as a motivational tool, but the players know this is it, and they want to make it a special year for Bobby.

"It's never been about him, and it never will be," said pitcher Tim Hudson. "But everybody knows that it is. All the players know that this is his last year. And even though he's really humble and he doesn't want the spotlight on him at all…we're going to go out and bust our tails for him. And hopefully, at the end of the day, we're going to do something special."

The Braves have a lot of questions going into the 2010 season, though. Can Troy Glaus recover from his injuries and be that dominant clean-up hitter? Can Tim Hudson be an ace again after having Tommy John surgery and missing most of last year? Is Jair Jurrjens going to be healthy by Opening Day? Can the Braves return to the playoffs and make a push? And the questions continue from there.

If you were to ask any one of these questions to Cox, his required answer is yes, just as he has always answered. A manager always has to be positive entering every season, which Bobby has done for the past the 20 seasons and will do once more.

"It's going to be weird [next year] to see someone else stand up, when we first get here, and give that speech," catcher Brian McCann said. "It's going to be weird, because his presence is everywhere. When you put on this uniform, you feel his presence."

Bobby Cox, after this season, is leaving us with some outstanding Hall of Fame credentials: 2,413 career wins, a World Series title, four-time manager of the year, and he holds a not-so-favorable record of 151 ejections.

The greatest manager of our generation will be dearly missed by Braves fans and the entire baseball world.