This photograph was taken on Monday shortly after the Atlanta Braves had lost to the San Francisco Giants 3-2 and lost the NLDS 3-1. This game was a lot different than others. It represented an end of an era. This was the final time number 6 was going to be in the clubhouse managing the Atlanta Braves. This was the final time the man wearing the black aviators, and the shoes with the baseball spikes, despite not playing baseball since 1969 wouldn't be getting ejected supporting his players. The man in this picture is Bobby Cox. After my Braves lost to the Giants on Monday, I had to choke back the tears along with the thousands of Braves fans at Turner Field and thousands of Braves fans in America. The sadness wasn't because the Braves lost. The sadness is attributed to the fact that Bobby wasn't going to be managing anymore.
The Atlanta Braves are the Atlanta Braves because of Bobby Cox. Fourteen division titles, two NL pennants, one world series, and some of the greatest pitching staffs of all time. Since June 22, 1990, when Bobby Cox began managing the Braves, there have been 106 different managers in just the national league. The Braves have had one. In what would become his final game, Bobby came into the locker room and addressed the team. The emotions of this being the end had caught up. It took everything for a man built on composure to hold back the tears. He told his players thank you. Not a single player in that room had dry eyes. After the game was over, Cox addressed the media for the last time, and had to fight back the tears when he started to talk about addressing his players for the last time as their manager. He pulled his cap down and tried hiding his eyes as he muttered, "A grown man shouldn't do this." It was painful to watch. Bobby didn't want it to be the end. Yet he knew that it was for the best. He told his players that he was proud of them. Yet no words can console the players, Braves fans, and fans of the game anywhere.
The Braves will play 162 games next year. Fredi Gonzalez will be managing the team and is very capable and very familiar with the organization. Yet things will not be the same. The Tomahawk Chop won't feel the same. It won't feel the same watching another manager congratulate the players or walk out before the game and hand the lineup card to the umpire. Baseball will not be the same without Bobby Cox. Cox built a legacy that will never be replaced or changed. A legacy in which players deserved a second chance and were given one despite not getting a chance from other teams. So many players have come and gone in Atlanta and have revived their careers along the way. Some players have come to Atlanta and left for more money, but their careers inevitably suffered because of it. There was something about the Braves and Bobby Cox that was special and better than anything else, despite the results not always showing.
This picture is very important, because it represents the United States of America we live in today. As Bobby waves goodbye, it represents waving goodbye to an era in which the United States was a global power everyone wanted to be like. Sure America still has the best military and one of the largest economies, yet things are different now. America used to represent strength. America represented resilience. A picture of America sixty years ago would display all of the efforts that each and every American put into a job to make sure it was done right. America used to be the land of opportunity. People looking for a second chance came to America. Players looking for a second chance came to the Atlanta Braves and Bobby Cox. Sure people still come to America looking for a second chance but is the American Dream what it used to be? As you read this and think about the American Dream do you still believe it exists when we live in a country run by McDonalds, Microsoft, and the major oil companies? The fans in the background of this image are clapping. However, if one saw the game, many of these fans were crying and looking at the field and the dugout wondering what next.
In 2008 we looked at Barack Obama wondering what next. Obama preaches inherently the same message most Presidents preach. The same I will fix the economy speech, and bring back jobs speech. As Bobby Cox waves goodbye to the fans and his players, he has a look of doubt on his face. The same look of doubt most Americans have when looking at the nation and how it is run today. The economy is still a mess, our jobs are overseas, and we still have a huge unemployment rate. America will never be the same after this recession. All great things come to end at some point right? Just as the era of Bobby Cox has come to an end in Atlanta, the end of an era of continued American dominance has come to an end as well. Sure we may have the biggest economy. We may even get a surplus again. But it won't feel the same. Just as Fredi Gonzalez has the job of filling the void left by Bobby Cox, Barack Obama has the task of restoring America. Fredi Gonzalez will never be Bobby Cox. He will never replace Bobby Cox nor will he be as beloved as Bobby Cox, even if he wins the world series next year. Barack Obama will never restore America to what it once was, even if he fixes all of America's problems. Yet if there is one thing we as Americans do well, its rise from adversity and make the most out of the opportunities given to us. Just as the Atlanta Braves will play 162 games next year without Bobby Cox, America will take each day at a time as our President guides us through the adversity that faces us. All we can do is look back on what once was and smile but remember its the past. We have to move back to the present and pray everything works out. Thanks for the memories Bobby, and good luck Mr. Obama, America and myself have faith in you, whether the polls represent it or not.