For many years, Bobby Cox has been referred to as one of the game’s most influential figures to ever manage a baseball club. Cox was born May 21, 1941 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He began his major league career as a player in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a minor leaguer after signing with them out of free agency in 1959, although he never played a game in a Dodgers uniform. Bobby was traded from the Los Angeles organization to the Atlanta Braves in 1966, the first year the Braves were known as the Atlanta Braves after spending time in Boston and Milwaukee. He never played a game in an Atlanta uniform, he was then acquired by the New York Yankees following the 1967 season and played in The Bronx from 1968-1969. However, he would become one of the most highly-respected managers the game has ever seen. At just 30-years-old, Cox began his managerial career at the minor league level in 1971 with Yankees’ farmhand, Fort Lauderdale of the Florida State League. In 1978, Bobby Cox was hired as the manager of the Atlanta Braves, even though the Braves didn’t want to hire him due to his lack of major league managerial experience. He led the Atlanta club from 1978-1981 and then was hired as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, where he stayed from 1982-1985. In 1990 however, he was called on by Braves executives to manage the team one again. This is where Bobby Cox found a home and stayed from 1990-2010. During that span, Cox led the Braves to an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005. Well-respected by players, managers, executives and fans all across the sport, Cox made sure he earned respect of umpires by getting ejected from a Major League record, 158 games. In his managerial career, Bobby Cox coached in 4,508 games with a record of 2,504-2,001 and a winning percentage of .556. Before his retirement in 2010, he was immortalized in Braves history as his number 6 was retired by the club. In 2017, when the Braves opened SunTrust Park, the team honored him with a bronze statue that depicts him standing on the top step of the dugout with one arm on the rail. In April 2019, Cox suffered a stroke a day after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of Atlanta’s home opener vs. the Cubs but has since been released from an Atlanta-area hospital and is in a local-rehabilitation facility and is expected to make a full recovery. Hats off to a legend.
We all know that there is absolutely nothing to do in Southaven, Mississippi, but 22-year-old Austin Riley, a Southaven, Mississippi native, born in Memphis, Tennessee, begs to differ which leaves Braves fans all over the country wonder “Could this “kid” be the next big thing to come out of Atlanta?” While only in his early 20s, Austin Riley has made the quite the impression on the Atlanta fanbase over his his first five games in a Braves uniform. Going 1-for-3 in his Majors debut, that one hit? A massive 438-foot homer, 3-for-3 with three singles in his second game with three singles, 2-for-5 in his third game, 2-for-3 in his fourth game and 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his most recent game in Atlanta. I refuse to say he’s in a “slump” after his most recent game based on his early-career numbers, maybe it was just a bad game. There is almost nothing to be mad about with this kid. Some refer to the Braves as the “Baby Braves,” as they are one of, if not the youngest team in baseball. He’s getting it done at just the right time. Not to mention, he started his first four games in left field and got the nod at third base today. Does that remind you of anybody. Coming into the series with Milwaukee, people were saying “The Brewers are on a 3-game winning streak and I just don’t see how the Braves can stop that.” Atlanta put a quick stop to that with a historic 9-run sixth inning on Friday, at one point, they were up 12-0 and saw some ninth inning troubles but came away with a 12-8 win, Saturday’s game was much closer as it lasted 10-innings but Freddie Freeman came in clutch, as he has done most of his career, turning out the lights on the Brewers 4-3 with a walk-off homer to give the Braves the series win. Sunday, Atlanta wasn’t quite as fortunate dropping game three, 3-2 in 10 innings thanks to a Ben Gamel homer to lead-off the 10th off of Wes Parsons. Atlanta finished the 6-game home stand with a 4-2 record. The 9-run sixth Friday was something that had just been done 11 times in the past 30 years. The last time the Braves scored 9 runs in an inning was May 20, 2009 vs. Colorado. I think the Braves are getting hot at just the right time with a seven-game road trip looming. The first four of which are on the West Coast against San Francisco, the West Coast has not been kind to the Braves this year, the last three are in St. Louis. The seven-game road trip kicks off tomorrow night at 8:45pm Central Time.
Wednesday night, the Braves called up top prospect, Austin Riley, a 22-year-old, first round draft pick out of Mississippi State University in 2015. The Atlanta fanbase has been buzzing about him for weeks, even months on in and finally the Braves front office heard the echoes of the Braves faithful around the country. The move did come with a cost though, that cost? Placing Ender Inciarte on the Injured List with a lower back strain prior to yesterday’s second game vs. St. Louis. Austin Riley, a rookie, looked as if he was in mid-season form, going 1-for-3 with his first Major League home run coming in his second-career at-bat. A ball that traveled 438 feet with an exit velocity of 109 MPH and a launch angle of 27 degrees. He was a force to be reckoned with. Austin Riley has 14 homers in his last 70 at-bats including the minor leagues and last night, that’s a .200 average. This man will be a legend. Get used to his face, he’ll be here a long time. I would be surprised if he isn’t still in an Atlanta uniform after Inciarte returns from injury. He definitely has a future in Atlanta and something tells me he’s just heating up. Only time will tell.
Many people weren’t expecting the Braves to be as strong in 2019 as they were in 2018, as much as i wish those people were wrong, early indications seem to be proving those critics right. Atlanta started off on the wrong foot when they got swept in a three-game series in Philadelphia against a loaded Phillies club. When they opened the gates to SunTrust Park for the first time in the season, things started to look up for the 2019 Braves as in some ways, they echoed the success of the 2018 team when they went on to win seven of their next eight contests. You can’t help but think that they caught the Cubs and Rockies when both teams’ Opening Day jitters seemed to be lingering around for several weeks at the beginning of the season. Atlanta swept both Chicago and Colorado on the road, with the latter being shortened by a blizzard in Denver, Colorado area. Atlanta opened the home slate by sweeping the Cubs and beating the Marlins 2-1 in a three-game series. But things looked like they might be going by the wayside when the Arizona Diamondbacks came calling and swept the Braves at home in that same home stand that included a four-game series split with the Mets. After the Braves and Mets went their separate ways, Atlanta went on a six-game, two city road-trip which included paying visits to Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, respectively. Atlanta beat Cleveland 2-1 in three games and lost to Cincinnati 2-1 in a three-game series. The Braves then returned home only for a rude welcome from the Colorado Rockies losing to them 2-1. Atlanta is currently in the middle of a four-game series with San Diego in Atlanta, that series is tied at a game apiece thus far.
What Needs to Change in May?
With the exception of newcomer Jacob Webb and Luke Jackson, our best bet is to call up some dependable bullpen arms so we don’t have to keep relying on our starters to go six-plus innings every night.
Whether anything changes or not, I’ll never give up on the Braves.
Oh, the stories I could tell about the place that I often refer to as “my home”. Though it’s not really my home, it is a place where I can go and feel like I have escaped reality. I’ve been there off and on for the past six years. It’s the place where I embarked on this ongoing journey that is my dream of broadcasting. I’ve called a countless amount of names out from the microphone and speakers of what I consider a sacred place because it’s where I took my first step as a broadcaster. I’ve seen tons of games won and tons of games lost from that press box. So it’s only fitting that I call it home. There’s just something special about this place that gives me a feeling that I don’t experience anywhere else. It’s a safe haven to me. I feel like I’m on top of the world when I climb the press box stairs and enter the press box. It’s where I’ve met a countless amount of people and most of those people have remained in touch to this day. If you were to ask me what my favorite call has been during my time at Bazemore Field so far, I’d have to say it’s when we swept arch-rival Stanhope Elmore to win the Class 6A Area 5 Championship earlier this year. After all, it was the first area championship in baseball in 24 years. My call was: “Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, for the first time in 24 years, your Wetumpka Indians are Class 6A Area 5 Champions!” While playing Queen’s “We Are The Champions” over the speakers. It was so electrifying in the ballpark that day. Granted we weren’t 6A in 1995, the last time we won the area championship, I feel like that was my signature call from this year and I can’t wait to make more memories at “home” next year. While I am anxiously awaiting new memories next year, nothing can replace the memories that were made on that diamond in 2019. Until next year, take it easy Bazemore Field, I’ll be home before you know it.
Recently, the Braves have been on a three-game season-opening road trip to Philadelphia where they squared off against the Philadelphia Phillies. In the offseason, much of the talk around baseball was the Phillies signing of National League sensation, Bryce Harper, to a 13-year $330 million contract. Some might ask why I am talking about Bryce Harper since I am a Braves fan so I’m going to cut to the chase. Philadelphia didn’t treat the Braves as nicely as I hoped but in the back of my mind I knew that it would be this way. Harper is 2-for-12 in a Philadelphia uniform. That doesn’t sound good, I know but his two hits are home runs one of which traveled 465-feet on Saturday against Atlanta in game two of the series. Not to mention that Phillies have multiple former all-stars on their roster, two of those being Bryce Harper, who was acquired from Washington in the offseason and the other? Andrew McCutchen, who was acquired from San Francisco, also during the offseason. The Braves (0-3) left “The City of Brotherly Love” without a win. But, tonight they open the gates of SunTrust Park for the first time in 2019 at 6:10p.m. Central Time against Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and the 2016 World Champion, Chicago Cubs. Excitement has been brewing in the air of Atlanta as we have patiently awaited this day. Earlier today, I read that the Cubs bullpen was struggling as has been the Braves so hopefully we can turn things around at home and give these fans what they’ve waited all offseason for. Here’s to SunTrust Park and hoping the Cubs treat the Braves to their first win of 2019.
Ahh, it’s finally baseball season again, my favorite season of the year. Normally when people are asked which season is their favorite, they make references to either Winter, Fall, Spring or Summer and sometimes people choose multiple seasons. For me, I’ve spent nearly all my life around a diamond in one aspect or another. In fact, before I became a broadcaster, I played the game until I was eight years old when I broke my finger trying to bunt a ball. Instead of the ball hitting the bat, it took a painful detour and hit my pointer finger on my right hand. I wound up playing the remainder of the game in the outfield. Ever since then, I’ve spent my time in the broadcast booth. While I enjoy being a broadcaster, nothing can compare to Atlanta Braves baseball. I’m like a little kid on Christmas morning when it comes to the Braves. In fact, I will be watching the game today against Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies from my phone when the first pitch is thrown at 2:05pm CT. Today, baseball fans around the world will be glued to their televisions and mobile devices patiently waiting on their respective team’s season to start. Yes, I will be one of those fans.