Much like you and I wake to see the sun in the sky, Braves' nation expects to see Bobby in the dugout. His bench is a throne to which he sits and remains humble until an umpire ignites a fire in his belly. His players, sandlot samurais, are happy to do the dirty work on the field. Eric Hinske recently told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Cox is like a mob boss. People fetch him things whether it be a chair, coffee or water.
In turn, Whatifsports.com and Fox Sports South have partnered up to honor Bobby Cox in this his final season with the Atlanta Braves. We have created Bobby and the Braves: A 16-team Tournament featuring some of Cox's best rosters.
As you can see in the bracket above, we've whittled the field down to two. The 1997 Braves versus the 1993 Braves in the championship series is no big surprise. The two ball clubs combined for 205 wins. Though, in both seasons, neither captured the National League pennant.
The '93 Braves featured a starting rotation that caused many owners to drool. Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery won 75 games for the Braves that season. The pitching staff as a whole possessed the lowest ERA in the majors at 3.14. Atlanta also had a little pop to their bat leading the NL in home runs that season with 169 led by David Justice's 40 dingers.
Fast forward four seasons to 1997. Gone was Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium as the Braves moved across the street to Turner Field. But constants remained within the organization. Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine along with Denny Neagle anchored the rotation and once again the Braves led the majors in ERA at 3.18.
The other constant was Bobby Cox. The skipper was 52 and 56 years old, respectively, when he led these two teams to 100+ wins and deep into the post-season.
As you may have guessed, this series took 7 games to crown a champion. But in the end it came down to, of all things, pitching. So, cliche.
Game 1 Summary
Greg Maddux threw a complete game 2-hitter for the 1993 Braves and drove in two runs on a RBI double en route to a rout 9-0. Ron Gant and Jeff Blauser chipped in two ribbies apiece. The 1993 Braves led the series 1-0.
Game 2 Summary
This time it was Tom Glavine for the 1997 Braves handcuffing hitters. The southpaw threw 7 scoreless innings while his Atlanta teammates built him a 5-run cushion. Michael Tucker provided the offense, beating up John Smoltz and driving in four runs on the night. The 1997 Braves win 5-1.
Game 3 Summary
Ok, 1997 Glavine good, but 1993 Glavine bad. Tommy boy didn't make it out of the 5th inning of Game 3, allowing 6 earned runs on 8 hits in 4 1/3 innings pitched. Andruw Jones led the way on offense for the '97 Braves (4 RBIs) and Denny Neagle did some work on the mound only giving up 3 hits in his 7 innings of work. The 1997 Braves take a 2-1 series lead winning 9-1.
Game 4 Summary
It's a good thing the Braves traded for Kenny Lofton before the 1997 season because they really benefited from his services in Game 4. The speedy leadoff hitter smacked four base hits and drove in two runs. Greg Maddux 1997 matched his Game 1 counterpart by locking down the 1993 Braves for 7 innings. He struck out six, walked none and scattered six hits. Ron Gant crushed his second homer of the series for the 1993 Braves, but in a losing effort. The '97 Braves need one more win to win the best of 7 series, winning 6-2.
Game 5 Summary
In a must win Game 5, the 1993 Braves dealt with an early deficit, but rallied to send the game into extra innings tied at 5. In the top of the 12th, Rafael Belliard smoked a double to the gap in right. Ron Gant scored, but Sid Bream was gunned down at the plate. Clinging to a one run lead in the bottom half of the 12th, the 1997 Braves moved the tying run into scoring position. Mark Lemke had a chance to be the hero, but ended up a zero. He flew out to end the ball game. The 1993 Braves force a Game 6, winning 6-5 in 12 innings.
Game 6 Summary
If the 1993 Atlanta Braves truly wanted to win the Bobby and the Braves tournament, they had a funny way of proving it. In their second win or go home elimination game, the '93 Braves fell behind 4-0 though 5 innings. But they did not panic and rallied back in the top of the 7th, behind a 3-run burst, all with two outs in the inning. Once again these two ball clubs would need extra innings to decide a winner. Tied at 4 in the top of the 10th, and again with two outs, the 1993 Braves come up clutch. Otis Nixon hit a single back up the box and into center plating Bill Pecota. Then with the bases loaded, Ron Gant was hit by a pitch. The 1997 Braves needed two runs in the bottom of the 10th to further the game, trailing 6-4, but their bats fell silent. The 1993 Braves were one win away from the improbable. The series was all square at 3 games apiece.
Game 7 Summary
Two harmless solo home runs in the first two innings of an epic pitching duel ended up being the difference in Game 7. Jeff Blauser's 1st inning dinger barely cleared the wall and David Justice hit a long ball to center the following inning for the 1993 Braves.
Denny Neagle did all he could to keep his 1997 Braves in the ball game. Besides the two home runs, he only rendered two more hits in his 7 innings of work.
Tom Glavine just happened to be in the zone on this night. He pitched 8 2/3 of scoreless baseball making way for Mike Stanton to close the door on the game and complete an incredible come back in the best of 7 series.
The 1993 Braves win Game 7, 2-0 the final.
The 1993 Atlanta Braves rally back to win the title and Bobby Cox exits baseball's grand stage the way he should: a winner.