Manager of the Era.
There's no such award, of course. And I'm in no way advocating for baseball to add yet another piece of dust-collecting hardware to its already expansive list of accolades.
But if there were such a laurel, it should be bestowed upon Bobby Cox, the Buddha-like curmudgeon who's been sitting at the front end of the bench in the Atlanta Braves' dugout for what seems like forever.
The guy who reminds us why late-age men shouldn't wear body-hugging baseball uniforms.
One by-product of Bobby Cox's longevity: He's been tossed from more games than any other manager in history.The guy who has taxed more nerves of more umpires than anyone else in the game's history.
The guy who has been the best manager in baseball pretty much since I got out of college more than three decades ago.
Cox says he's retiring at the end of this season. He'll walk away with that gimpy gait after 29 years as a major league manager, the past quarter-century with the Braves. He's won 15 divisional titles (14 straight during one remarkable run; no one counts the strike-tainted 1994 season, which ended in August with the Braves in second place), five National League pennants and a World Series championship.
He won't retire as baseball's winningest manager -- Connie Mack managed for 53 seasons, after all -- and some will certainly argue that this fictitious Manager of the Era Award should go to Joe Torre. Or Tony La Russa. Or maybe Sparky Anderson. All four men are in baseball's all-time top 10 in victories. As the season gets underway again Thursday night after the All-Star break, La Russa is third overall with 2,599 wins, Cox is fourth (2,465) and Torre is fifth (2,295). Hall of Famer Anderson, who retired in 1995, is sixth with 2,194 wins. (Though he trails this bunch in wins by a wide margin -- he has 1,460 as the Tigers begin the second half of the season -- Jim Leyland's three Manager of the Year awards, two pennants and one World Series title earn him at least a mention in this discussion, too.)
Torre, with four World Series titles and six American League pennants, is the era's trophy king. But it's my award, and I'm going with Cox.