Today is Day 1 A.B. (After Bobby) I can’t help tearing up a little when I watch the video of his last post-game press conference. He was a class act and I can’t imagine baseball, especially Braves baseball, without him.
I know what you’re thinking… “Datachix, what does this have to do with data?” Well, Dear Reader, let me tell you. We could all learn a thing or two from the legendary Skipper. Actually, there are five.
1) Loyalty is NOT overrated. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard Bobby say a harsh word about his players, even after a loss. He might point out mistakes they’d made, or reasons why they lost, but he immediately followed it up with a comment about how they’d get them next time, and how his boys played hard. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have been able to resist bashing Brooks Conrad after 3 errors cost us Game 3 in the NLDS. What did Bobby say about whether he’d bench him? “I’ll have to sleep on it.” That’s classy. How many times have I railed against a fellow developer who broke a build? How many times have I complained loudly about how a project was going? More times than I’d care to admit. And, managers all over IT could use his playbook to improve their management style. In a perfect world, Bobby would become the development manager on my next project. Tell me you wouldn’t work harder for him than anyone.
2) Stand up for your team. He’s been ejected over 150 times (161 I believe, if you count the post-season). If Bobby saw an injustice being carried out by the umpires, he was going to get out there and in someone’s face. Now, I don’t suggest that we all get ourselves carted out of the building by security next time something unfair happens, but there is something to be said for a manager who’s willing to step in and take the heat for his guys. Many times, he would step in and get himself ejected to save one of his players. Next time you see a co-worker getting treated unfairly, ask yourself: What Would Bobby Do?
3) Find your passion and live it. Bobby Cox started playing baseball professionally over 50 years ago. Can you even imagine spending 50 years of your life doing anything? If you truly love what you do, then good for you. If not, then find it. If nothing else, find something you love about your career and focus on that. Bobby was a mediocre baseball player. He only really played two seasons professionally. How lucky are we that he decided to stick with the game that he loved and find a way to be a part of it instead of going off to sell insurance somewhere?
4) Be a mentor. Ask anyone who’s played for Bobby. He’ll tell you that Bobby was a mentor, a teacher. Jason Heyward will be a better player because he got just one season with Bobby. There’s a reason that the Braves clubhouse is considered one of the most professional and welcoming in Major League Baseball. Bobby set the bar, and then taught his guys how to reach it. HOw many less experienced people do you work with every day? Do you shrug and roll your eyes when they struggle, or do you step in and patiently teach them how to improve. Again, What Would Bobby Do?
5) Talk softly, but don’t be a softie. Okay, so Bobby’s temper was legendary (note the 161 ejections). But for the most part, he’d sit there on the dugout bench or lean against the railing, quietly watching the game unfold. He didn’t rant. He didn’t rave. He made decisions, sometimes tough ones, with respect and thoughtfulness. I see so many of us (myself included), so eager to prove our worth and expertise bluster and proclaim our ideas for the world to hear. How about we take a page from Bobby’s book and just let the record speak for us? How about we make tough decisions with less drama? How about we sit back and watch the game unfold for a while before we jump to conclusions? That’s Bobby’s way.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I love my Braves. When I adopted Atlanta as my second hometown, I was lucky to have a great baseball team to go along with it. Bobby Cox was a big part of that. In an age of juiced players, and scandals, and waning interest in the sport, Bobby represented an old school approach to a game that I’d grown up with. So, if you ever see me sitting back, quietly watching the game unfold, resisting the urge to jump in with opinions and half-formed ideas, you’ll know I’m getting my Bobby on.