By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Braves gain ground in all important loss column
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
The Braves launched right into the Bobby Cox Farewell Tour. Or might it be the Bobby Cox Victory Tour?

They hardly needed a jet to fly home from Washington Sunday night, capping a watershed week. They’d just run the table, rolling up six straight wins over the Mets and Nationals.

And right in the middle of it all, there was the Ol’ Skipper announcing that he’d re-upped for one final season in the Braves dugout.

With the pesky Marlins visiting for three games starting on Monday, and the hapless Nats to follow for four more, the Braves trailed the Rockies in the Wild Card race by only two games in the All Important Loss Column.

Ah, yes, the All Important Loss Column. When they start talking about the All Important Loss Column, things are downright serious. There’s a pennant chase in full throttle.

During the Braves’ glorious reign of division championships, we never really heard much about the All Important Loss Column. In those days, we learned what a Magic Number was. Those Braves played the chasee, not the chaser.

But when you’re dogging the team that’s in front of you in the standings, that’s when you pay attention to the All Important Loss Column. The theory being that once you lose a game, you can’t get it back.

While all Monday reports indicated that the Rockies still led the Braves by 2 1/2 games, the key number was really two. The Rockies had two more losses than the Braves, meaning simply that they had to lose twice for the Braves to draw even. Then, for each Braves loss, the Rockies had to lose again.

But let’s stop right there. Isn’t it incredible that we’re discussing the Braves and the All Important Loss Column heading into the final week of the season?

Here’s a club that spent the first half of the season unable to fashion a .500 record. Their lineup featured three black holes, and that was before you got to the pitcher’s spot. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz in their prime couldn’t have pitched that lineup to a pennant.

On Sunday morning, June 28, the Braves awoke from their fourth straight loss to find themselves with a 34-40 record, mired in fourth place in their division. They already trailed the Phillies by five games.

And though no one was checking the wild card standings that morning, the Braves were in 10th place, six games behind the Cardinals.

Better yet, try this perspective: the Braves had a better record than the Padres, Diamondbacks, and Nationals. That’s it. How’s that for an indication of how far this team has come in the past three months?

What happened? The Ol’ Skipper made a telling comment to Matt Palmer of on Sunday morning. “It’s the same, it seems like to me,” Cox said, referring to this team’s attitude. “We’re winning at a nice pace. It makes it fun to come to the park.”

That’s Bobby Cox in a nutshell. Never ecstatic in victory, never despondent in defeat. Always on an even keel. Unless an umpire blows a call or shows up one of his players.

That’s the personality required to lead the Braves to all those division titles. Should the Braves have won more than one World Series? Of course.

But think back to the summer of 1991. The Braves were playing well. Then they roared out of the All-Star break and got close enough to make the Dodgers pay attention.

And what did the fans want? A pennant race. That’s all. We wanted to see meaningful baseball games played by the Braves come September.
Just give us a pennant race!

And that’s just what the Braves did. And they did it every year until 2006.

Why? Primarily because Cox was in the dugout, staying the course and making sure the game was being played the right way. But also because Cox spent five years as general manager from 1985 through 1990. During that time, he built the Braves farm system, stocking the organization with enough talent to keep it on top longer than any professional team in any sport ever has.

Now, after three years of failing to be a factor in September, the Braves have stunned us all. They’re right in the mix. They’re playing huge games during the final week of the season.

Regardless of the outcome, it all bodes well for the future. The Braves built momentum over the past three months that will carry over into next season. They’ll start out next year with the quiet confidence of knowing that they’re a bona-fide playoff contender.

And a year from now, we might be concentrating on magic numbers instead of the All Important Loss Column.

It should make for a fantastic Farewell Tour.