It's no wonder Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox is so popular with his players:
Braves manager Bobby Cox may be back on the bench tonight after serving a two-game suspension for arguing a call against pitcher Greg Maddux.
But ask practically any of his players and they'll tell you: Cox saves his temper for the umpires; for his team, it's nothing but Little-League-like cheers shouted from the top step of the dugout.
"It's big when you know whenever you're up at the plate or on the mound, you've got Bobby Cox on your side," outfielder Darren Bragg said. "You've got one of the best managers ever cheering you on like you're his kid. You want to come through for him like he's your dad."
"I've always done that, even when I played," Cox said. "I just naturally did it. Just trying to win. Root them on."
It's a large part, say his players, of what's put him on the top 10 list of all-time managerial wins, matching Gene Mauch Sunday for 10th with 1,902.
And if the Braves win one out of three against the Phillies this weekend, Cox will be only the second manager to join the New York Yankees' Joe McCarthy in winning 100 or more games in six seasons.
Juxtapose Cox against volatile Phillies manager Larry Bowa.
In recent weeks, Bowa subjected his players to a post-game tirade, watched slugger Pat Burrell apparently avoid his post home-run handshake in retaliation, and then the Phillies released top pinch hitter Tyler Houston in the fallout.
"Bowa only cares about himself," Houston told the New Jersey Courier-Post. "He's the first one to slam you, embarrass you, throw stuff in the dugout, throw his hands up in the air."
It's doubtful any Brave, present or former, would say anything close to that about Cox. He rarely says anything negative about his players in the media, the dugout, or anywhere other than a closed office. He builds relationships on handshakes, back-pats, and cheers.