When I wrote this post about Joe Maddon, I was reminded of a conversation I had 100 years ago with a Braves scout (among the many perks of my time on the D-Rays’ PR staff was pre-game meals with scouts in the media dining room).
He attributed the Braves’ long run of success to their player-development system. And he attributed the success of the Braves’ player development system to Bobby Cox’s long tenure as the big league skipper. Basically, he said every minor leaguer knew what Bobby was expecting in a Major Leaguer (there was even a mantra in the minor league clubhouses taht was something like “Bobby wouldn’t like that.”).
Then, when Chipper Jones announced his forthcoming retirement, my mind wandered back to that Braves.
Aren’t they the perfect analogy for the Rays?
- Long-struggling franchise. Check. The Braves finished last or next-to-last every season from 1973-1981 and from 1985-1990.
- Get a new manager with a long big-league track record and finish last. Check. (Cox re-joined the Braves for the 1990 season and finished dead last).
- Use that losing season to draft a franchise cornerstone that plays third base. Check. (The Braves took Larry Wayne Jones first-overall in 1990).
- Find a former football star and convince him to be your most athletic outfielder and difference maker? Check. (Remember when Neon Deon brought the chop to Atlanta?)
So, will the analogy end there? Do we have the organizational intelligence to put together a 15-year run like the run Cox’s braves enjoyed? Can we find some miracle to lock-up Longo so that we can all write glowing summaries of his long Rays career when he announces his retirement 15 years from now?
I don’t know. But that would be awesome.
One more question that just ocurred to me: Can we get Andy/Dave/Dewayne/BA to say Longo’s name with that nasally accent they use for Chipper on the TBS Braves’ broadcasts?