Editor’s note:

We love the Atlanta Braves.  There, we said it.  We have loved them since Dale Murphy was patrolling the outfield for the never-say-die, perpetually-out-of-the-pennant-race-by-May teams of the mid-80s.  And, thanks to the SuperStation, there are a lot of us Braves fans out there.  We fell in love with Murphy and Bob Horner and Ken Oberkfell and stayed in love when those heroes gave way to David Justice, Ron Gant, Steve Avery, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.  And starting in 1978 and again in 1991 when he came back from the front office as a general manager to become the manager of our Atlanta Braves, we fell in love with Bobby Cox.

Today Cox and the Braves announced that the 68-year-old skipper had signed on to manage one more year with the team and will retire at the conclusion of the 2010 season.  Cox ranks fourth all-time in career wins for a manager and his spot in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is a foregone conclusion.  And although we Braves fans knew that this day would come eventually (and a small but vocal minority had been screaming for his head for years), it still to us seems that it has come a bit too soon.

After a successful stint in Atlanta from 1978-1981, and later leading the Toronto Blue Jays to the American League East crown in 1985, Cox returned to  Dixie to lead a Braves team that had become a laughing stock.  In his first full season at the helm in 1991, he led the Braves from worst to first, winning the National League East and eventually leading the Braves to the World Series, a bitter and heartbreaking loss to the Minnesota Twins (It’s a freaking double off the wall Lonnie Smith.  Run dammit — true Braves fans will know exactly what we are talking about.)  That 1991 campaign would be the first of 14 consecutive division championships for Cox and the Braves, an achievement that becomes more and more mind-boggling the further away we get from it.  The Braves won their only championship during that run in 1995, which remains the only title ever won by an Atlanta-based franchise (along with the single greatest moment of ours lives as a sports fan.)  During that span, Braves players won two National League MVP awards and six Cy Young Awards, and Cox was named Manager of the Year three times (1991, 2004, and 2005). He was and remains old school and fiery (he also holds the record for ejections in a career).  But Braves fans and the national media became jaded with the team’s success, citing not the World Series Championship, but the 13 times they went to the playoffs without winning the title.  But ask any player who has ever played for Cox, and all you will get his effusive praise.  He is a true baseball legend, and he will be missed when he retires after next season.  Here’s selfishly hoping that the Braves send him out a winner next season.  He deserves no less.

We will return to our usual detatched neutrality tomorrow.  We just had to get this off of our chest.  Love ya, Bobby.