As I awaited the start of Bobby Cox's farewell address to the media inside the auxiliary clubhouse at Turner Field yesterday afternoon, I kept asking myself the same question: "How's he going to do it?"
It wasn't a curiosity about what he was going to say his favorite moment was or what he's going to miss most, I was wondering how he planned to announce his return for a 26th season as Braves manager.
In this day and age of reneged retirements and habitual self-promotion (cough) Brett Favre and Lebron James (cough) how could we really take Cox at his word when he announced in September of last year that he was going to hang up his No. 6 jersey after the 2010 season?
As we drew closer to the end of the baseball year, I fully expected to flip on the tube to find out that he had decided to stay another year because winning is too hard to walk away from.
That's the reason why he announced his retirement in the first place, right?
After going to the postseason 14 straight years, the Braves missed out on the October fun from 2006-09 and surely Cox had lost interest. So, just as the Braves' fourth consecutive season of playoff-less baseball had ended, Cox decided to announce his retirement plans to the surprise of few people familiar with the organization and Cox himself.
He was 68 years old at the time and had already accomplished everything you could as a Major League manager—seemed like perfect timing.
But then the Braves started doing something they hadn't done in nearly a half-decade: winning.
The 2010 season was filled with exciting finishes, unbelievable individual performances and, most importantly, stellar play, as the Braves spent over three months in first place and made the postseason for the first time in five years.
How could Bobby walk away now?
Much to my surprise and utter disappointment, there was no such announcement that Cox would be returning as manager in 2011.
The grizzled vet who spent 51 of his 69 years on this planet inside a clubhouse or on the diamond was sticking to his guns and called it a career on Wednesday.
Even as Atlanta GM Frank Wren and team President John Schuerholz helped new manager Fredi Gonzalez into his No. 33 jersey, I wasn't ruling out the possibility of Bobby stopping them before Fredi had it buttoned up then cracking open a cold one before exclaiming, "I'm coming back, bitches!"
Needless to say, that didn't happen. But nobody else in the room really seemed to care.
Unlike the rest of the reporterswho were in attendance on Wednesday—most of whom are baby boomers and older—Bobby Cox is the only manager I've ever known.
Sure, there were a couple of years during my infancy when Russ Nixon occupied the role of Braves skipper, but I was still in diapers and couldn't count to 10 yet (my teenage years were challenging) so I don't really have any recollection of the Nixon regime.
The rest of Atlanta's professional sports teams change coaches every three or four years so Cox, until Wednesday afternoon, became the one man we could count on seeing on a yearly basis.
That kind of dependability shouldn't be taken for granted.
I just hope that Bobby Cox has an easier time living without baseball than I'll have watching it without him.
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