Umpiring, offense leave Cox ejected, dejected Manager 'never expected' to lose four straight

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- Bobby Cox couldn't believe it. That much was written all over his face as he tried to explain how the Atlanta Braves had gone from two games up to four and out in the 92nd World Series.

"You can't look back now," Cox said. "They won four in a row. You have to give them credit. I would never have expected us to lose four in a row, but we did."

It certainly was not the way anyone in Atlanta had envisioned it. Cox didn't even get to see much of the game. He was ejected by umpire Tim Welke during the fifth inning for arguing a call -- a call from three days before -- and spent the final 4 1/2 innings watching from the dugout tunnel.

Where did the Braves go wrong? They dominated the New York Yankees during the first two games at Yankee Stadium, scoring 12 runs in Game 1 and Greg Maddux pitching eight scoreless innings in Game 2.

When the Yankees arrived in Atlanta, the local newspaper had one headline that read "Why even play it out?" and another postulating that the Braves' pitching staff could shut down the '27 Yankees.

Local fans were ready with their brooms and their neon-lighted Tomahawks, but the Yankees collected themselves behind David Cone to win Game 3 and then rallied from a 6-0 deficit to even the series at two games apiece.

That's when the trouble started with the umpires. Welke failed to get out of the way of Derek Jeter's foul fly ball, preventing outfielder Jermaine Dye from making the first out of what would become a crucial three-run Yankees rally.

Cox never stopped talking about it. He brought it up after that game, and brought it up after Game 5 and obviously brought it up to Welke on his way off the field after arguing a questionable call with second base umpire Terry Tata. Welke, who was not involved with the play that started the dispute last night, tossed Cox as the Braves' manager was leaving the field.

No doubt, Cox took a gratuitous shot at Welke on the way off. So, Welke gave him the thumb and Braves coach Jimy Williams became manager for a night.

The argument began when Tata called out Marquis Grissom trying to advance on a pitch that got away from Yankees catcher Joe Girardi. Girardi retrieved it quickly and made a great throw, but Grissom appeared to be well in contact with the bag at second when Jeter swiped the tag across his thigh.

"I just thought it was time to say something," Cox said. "We had held all our remarks until tonight. I should have been ejected, but I just wanted them to know that they had blown some plays."

It was just another in a series of strange calls that have put the umpires at center stage throughout the postseason. The most glaring, of course, was the fly ball by Jeter in Game 1 of the ## American League Championship Series that was ruled a home run when a 12-year-old fan reached over the wall and snatched it away from Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco.

The umpires are correct the vast majority of the time, but they were upstaged by the video replay so many times that union

chief Richie Phillips' mantra -- "the umpires are the best in the world at what they do" -- is beginning to ring hollow.

Still, the Braves could not attribute their collapse to a couple of faulty calls. They had everything going for them five days ago, and the Yankees simply stole the momentum and outplayed them the rest of the way.

The vaunted Atlanta starting rotation pitched well enough to carry the series, but a Braves lineup that had scored 48 runs in the five-game postseason span going into Game 3 simply gave up the attack.

Pub Date: 10/27/96

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