Bobby Cox and Buck Showalter were given little chance of success after payroll purges pushed out key players. Proving the predictions wrong, their teams won, anyway, and so did the managers.
Cox was voted National League manager of the year on Wednesday for leading the Atlanta Braves to an unexpected 13th consecutive division title, and Showalter won the American League honor for turning the last-place Rangers into a contender after Texas traded Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees.
“Some of the fans probably thought we weren’t going to make it this year, but we did,” Cox said after his third manager-of-the-year award. “I think I’m as thrilled this year as I ever have been with one single team.”
Coming off four last-place finishes in a row in the AL West, Texas cut its payroll in half and wasn’t predicted to do well. But the Rangers rebounded and remained in contention until the final week of the season.
“I would have picked us the same place everybody did too,” said Showalter, who won for the second time.
Cox received 22 first-place votes and 10 seconds for 140 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Assn. of America. Tony La Russa of St. Louis, who has won four manager-of-the-year awards, was second with 62 points after leading the Cardinals to a major league-best record of 105-57. Jim Tracy of the Dodgers was third with 52.
Atlanta, struck by injuries to key players, was 33-39 after a loss at Baltimore on June 25, then went 63-27.
Showalter received 14 first-place votes, nine seconds and four thirds for 101 points, finishing ahead of Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire, who got 11 firsts, 11 seconds and three thirds for 91 points. Mike Scioscia of the Angels finished third.
Texas went 89-73 -- its most wins since 1999 -- and finished third in the AL West behind the Angels and Oakland, only three games out of first.
Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams agreed to consider a plan by District of Columbia City Council Chair Linda W. Cropp that calls for the city to consider private financing for the proposed ballpark for the Expos.
“By all means we want to do that, and I certainly fully endorse it,” Williams said, adding that any deal must accommodate the city’s agreement with the Expos, which contains a Dec. 31 deadline.
“Let’s just see what happens. I think it can be achieved,” Cropp said, adding she had a “responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the cost” of the $435-million project.
Mel Stottlemyre agreed to return for his 10th season under Manager Joe Torre, and the Yankees also announced former catcher Joe Girardi would replace Willie Randolph as bench coach. Stottlemyre, the team’s pitching coach, said he would retire after the 2005 season.
Girardi fills the opening created when Randolph became manager of the New York Mets last week.
New York also said Don Mattingly would return for his second season as hitting coach. The Yankees did not address the status of third base coach Luis Sojo, first base coach Roy White and bullpen coach Rich Monteleone.
Major League Soccer plans to start a league to develop young players, part of its 10-year sponsor deal with Adidas.
MLS and the U.S. Soccer Federation already have an agreement with Nike to develop young talent in a program called Project 40. MLS did not disclose details of its new developmental league, and any conflicts between the two programs aren’t yet clear.
Former Austrian national team midfielder Andreas Herzog, who played in the 1990 and 1998 World Cups, retired. The decision ends an 18-year career which included last season with the Galaxy.
Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne were put on probation through the end of NASCAR’s season and fined $10,000 each for deliberately crashing into each other after a race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Moments after the Checker Auto Parts 500 ended Sunday, Harvick and Kahne ran into each other on pit road and stopped. Harvick jumped from his car and leaned into Kahne’s cockpit, gesturing and talking before being shooed back to his own car.
“He started running into us after the [last] caution,” Harvick said. “I just wanted to stop and ask him what the problem was.”