Two of the best managers in this era of baseball will be retiring at the end of this 2010 season—the Atlanta Braves Bobby Cox and the Chicago Cubs Lou Piniella.
Both managers were great beginning their careers around the same time in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Piniella with the New York Yankees and Cox with the Atlanta Braves.
Piniella or “Sweet Lou” as he was called both for his sweet swing as a major league hitter and facetiously to describe his demeanor less than sweet demeanor on the field. Piniella ranks 14th all-time on the list of managerial wins with 1,784-1,639 record.
Piniella managed the Yankees (1986-1988), Reds (1990-1992), Mariners (1993-2002), Rays (2003-2005) and the Cubs (2007-2010). He was a three-time Manager of the Year in 1995 and 2001 with the Mariners and again in 2008 with the Cubs. Perhaps his greatest managerial accomplishment—winning the World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in 1990.
Lou was well known for his on-field antics, arguing with umpires too times to count.
While with the Mariners he led them to a record tying 116 wins in 2001 before the team was eliminated in the ALCS to the Yankees. Piniella was then “traded” to the Devil Rays after the 2002 season while the Mariners received outfielder Randy Winn as compensation.
Piniella managed the Rays to a then franchise record 70 win season.
Yet he eventually stepped down as the manager after the 2005 season making his return with the Chicago Cubs in 2007 after signing a three year contract in the 2006 offseason.
In his second season with the Cubs he led them to the playoffs with the best record in the NL only to lose in the ALDS to the Dodgers.
Lou Piniella will go down as one of the top managers in baseball history.
Bobby Cox began his managing career with the Atlanta Braves in 1978 replacing Dave Bristol just prior to the 1978 season.
Under Cox the Braves struggled the first two years but was able to finish about .500 in 1980 for the first time since 1972. Yet Cox was fired the following season after the strike.
Cox returned to the Atlanta Braves following the 1985 season as general manager but could not stay away from the field as he fired manager Russ Nixon in June 1990 and appointed himself as manager.
The 1991 season was a big turnaround for the Braves rocketing from last place in 1990 to first place in 1991, making the World Series only to lose to the Minnesota Twins.
The Braves continued to win 15 division titles in a row, a major league record for a manager.
The only disappointment for Cox during the stretch was his inability to turn division titles into championships. The Braves' only World Series title came in 1995.
Regardless, Cox has been named Manager of the Year four times (1985, 1991, 2004, 2005).
Like Piniella, he was known for his on field actions as he leads MLB managers in games ejected.
Yet he is also the Braves all-time wins leader and is the fourth winningest manager in major league history. Cox is only trailing Connie Mack, John McGraw and Tony LaRussa on the career wins list as a manager.
Bobby Cox is arguably one of the top five managers of all time.
Both Cox and Piniella will be remembered and missed by the game of baseball and the fans.