With pitchers and catchers about to report and spring training just around the hot corner, what better way for Atlanta Braves fans to prepare for the season than with In the Time of Bobby Cox: The Atlanta Braves, Their Manager, My Couch, Two Decades, and Me. That's the managerial manifesto of a memoir by Lang Whitaker, a former Atlantan, now an award-winning New York sportswriter, a lifelong Braves fan and a hardball acolyte of Bobby Cox. Cox retired after last season as the fourth-winningest manager in baseball history, having taken the Braves to one last postseason. This, after guiding Atlanta to a record 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005, five World Series and the 1995 World Championship. Whitaker will autograph copies of his book on Tuesday, March 8, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Manuel's Tavern. In Whitaker, Braves fans will recognize one of their own. From In the Time of Bobby Cox: "I understand that sports fans can be partially (if not fully) obsessive. We feel like we have to be constantly on guard, lest some horrible evil befall our franchise. And, in turn, fall on us. Not to the Braves. Not on my watch." For Whitaker, that watch seemed eternal. From April through September, and on into October, his weeknights and Sunday afternoons meant one thing: Bobby and his Braves. Whitaker's watched far more than 1,000 games in Cox's tenure, many while fast-forwarding the recorded game after his wife had gone to sleep. Sunday was a day of real-time worship, with a few bottles of water and the best seat in the house: on his couch. If Bobby opted to hit and run, Lang chose to sit and wonder about the meaning of it all. For him, the old manager became a life coach of sorts, imparting lessons in persistence (Mark Lemke), consistency (Chipper Jones at the plate) and Cox's greatest attribute: his faith in, and loyalty to, his players (Is that Greg Norton in the on-deck circle again?). Ultimately, Whitaker realized Cox had as much influence on his life as just about anyone else. Even while being ejected 161 times – the most in major-league history and just one game shy of a full season. And yet, ever notice how rarely any of Cox's players were ejected? Whitaker did. He noticed everything, and wrote about it, too. Whitaker, who once wrote for Creative Loafing, is now the executive editor of SLAM magazine. From 2004 to 2008, he was a columnist for SI.com. Besides curating his award-winning blog, The Links on SLAMonline.com, he's a regular contributor to NBA TV. We'll have copies of In the Time of Bobby Cox for purchase at the signing at Manuel's. The event is free and open to the public. If you cannot attend the reading, but would like a signed copy of In the Time of Bobby Cox you may reserve it at http://acappellabooks.com/ev_whitaker.asp . (jasbro)
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