Friday, September 24, 2010, 6:33 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
Few people in baseball have as much first-hand experience working alongside Stan Kasten as Bobby Cox. So when the soon-to-be-retired Atlanta Braves manager says his former boss would make a good commissioner of baseball, the sentiment carries some weight.
"He's qualified to do that job, absolutely," Cox said Friday afternoon before his Braves faced the Washington Nationals in the opener of a three-game series.
Kasten, who announced Thursday he's leaving the Nationals after 4 12 seasons as team president, built his reputation while holding the same title for the Braves from 1986-2003. At the time, Cox was serving as Atlanta's general manager. He moved to the dugout in 1990 and on Friday night was in search of his 2,500th career victory.
The two remained close even while working for rival clubs, and Kasten told Cox of his plan to leave the Nationals earlier this year. Cox says Kasten has never brought up a desire to become MLB commissioner, though the manager is convinced he'd do well in that position.
"He's smart," Cox said. "He knows the game. He's a lawyer. He loves baseball more than anything. He knows the inner workings more than anybody. He'd be a solid choice in my opinion."
How, though, would Kasten (who notoriously has scrapped with agents and union officials over the years) deal with the players association?
"I think it's kind of like Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams," Cox said, referencing the always-sparring Chicago White Sox manager and GM. "They do a lot of screaming and yelling, but they love each other. He's dealt with them for so many years."
Bud Selig has said he plans to retire after the 2012 season, a notion Kasten doesn't buy. He doesn't see Selig ever walking away from the commissioner's office.
Whatever Kasten ends up doing with his life after the Nationals, Cox is convinced it will be something significant. He can't envision the 58-year-old settling into a life of retirement at this point.
"He's still young," Cox said. "He's got a lot of energy and vigor. I don't know what he's going to do. I have no idea. ... He'll be in something in sports, no doubt about it. He loves it. And he's excellent at what he does."
Cox has been on something of a farewell tour all season and has been honored by nearly every opposing club he's faced in the last two months. The Nationals plan to honor him before Sunday's game, something Washington manager Jim Riggleman believes is entirely appropriate.
"He's at the top of the list of first class people in the game," Riggleman said. "It's hard to go through this game without ruffling some feathers somewhere and without irritating someone. I think anybody in the game would be hard-pressed to find a bad word about Bobby Cox. He's just a class act. He's one of those that you aspire to be."