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MLB: Braves legends call foul
Cox, Lopez criticize infield fly ruling, one game wild-card playoff at celebrity golf tournament
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Forsyth County News

JOHNS CREEK — If Bobby Cox and Javy Lopez were in charge of Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Braves’ season might not be over.

The two Braves legends shared their thoughts on baseball and more, as they were joined by former coaches and athletes at the fifth annual Daniel Hager Memorial Celebrity Golf Tournament on Tuesday at St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek.

The Braves lost 6-3 to the St. Louis Cardinals in a one game wild-card playoff that was marred by a controversial infield fly call on Oct. 5 in Atlanta. Both the ruling and the one game wild-card playoff still bother Lopez, a three-time All-Star catcher who played 12 seasons of his 15-year career with the Braves before retiring in 2008.

"The infield fly rule was ridiculous," Lopez said.

"The one-game series is ridiculous. It’s just not fair for the Braves.

"You have a team [that] plays hard all year around. They were about seven games ahead of the Cardinals to end the season and you only play one game. I don’t think it’s fair."

Lopez said he misses the game and wants to be a manager one day. Though, for  now, he’s enjoying the time he’s able to spend with his family.

"I feel like I can still play and completely do some damage out there, but it is what it is" Lopez said. "At some point I want to be managing or coaching, but I’m not doing anything right now because I have three kids that I missed a lot of time with growing up. I want to catch up with them."

Cox, the fourth-winningest manager in major league history, became a consultant for the team after retiring in 2010. He believes the one-game playoff is solely for television ratings.

"You take away from the season when you have a one-game playoff," Cox said. "I think the whole thing is about money and TV ratings. You really need a series. The problem with the one game thing is that it’s one game. You can’t make up for a bad call."

The Braves have a number of personnel decisions to make during the offseason, including how to replace retiring third baseman Chipper Jones, a likely first-ballot Hall of Famer. Cox said the organization is already busy preparing for the 2013 season.

"I know [Braves personnel] is in Florida talking about what should happen next," Cox said. "Chipper is going to be tough to replace, but [Martin] Prado has done a good job at third before. They’re always working to try and make the team better."

Although Cox’s days as a manager are over, he’s never far from the game as a spectator. When he’s not watching baseball, he spends time supporting various causes.

"I watch every pitch of every inning [of the playoffs]," Cox said. "My wife’s not too happy about me watching baseball all the time, but it’s something I’ve grown a part of. We spent two weeks in Ireland, and that was all I could take.

"Honestly, I’m busier now than when I was managing. I try to be a part of different charities and such. ... It’s an honor to be involved in this event, and I always will be as long as they have me."

Cox, a personal friend of Kaye and Gerry Litzinger, has chaired the Daniel Hager Memorial Endowment Fund since its creation. The Litzingers began the memorial to honor their late son, a Georgia Tech graduate, who was killed in a car wreck in 2005.

The memorial awards eligible high school seniors in east Cherokee, Forsyth and north Fulton counties who plan to attend Georgia Tech.

To date, the annual golf tournaments have brought in $109,086 to fund 20 scholarships. Out of the 20 scholarships, 16 have gone to students from Forsyth County schools.