Smolzie Takes the Charge

John Smolz Takes the Charge

A comedic foil, a voice of reason re: youth sports, and

the only pitcher whose 3,000 career strikeouts also

contributed to a whopping 200 wins and 150 saves. John

Smoltz is evolving as fast as anyone can write about

him, as one unlucky headline writer learned this summer.

‘Smoltzie’ as he’s allowed folks to address him, has a

good sense of humor. Sports fans know that. But many

others perhaps know him as the straight man in a Home Depot

ad a few years back.

Smoltz’s athletic career began in Michigan high

school baseball and basketball. He says he likes

basketball better than baseball. In 1986, he joined the

Detroit Tigers farm club system. Two years later Smoltz

was with the Atlanta Braves, and first came to prominence

by helping the Braves into the 1991 World Series—their

first since they’d moved to Atlanta in 1966.

His Major League Baseball (MLB) career included award-

winning performance both before and after injuries that

have ended many other professional baseball careers.

Some highlights:

*1989, 1992-1993, 1996, 2002-03, 2005, 2007
MLB All Star;

*1992 MVP National League Championship Series;

*1995 Braves win World Series (one year after Smoltz
had bone chips removed from his elbow);

*1996 National League Cy Young Award;

*1997 Silver Slugger Award for Pitcher

*pre- 2000 Season “Tommy Johns Surgery” (relocated
tendon from elsewhere to repair pitching arm elbow)

*2002 Rolaids Relief Man of the Year

*2008 16th player to achieve 3,000 career strikeouts

Those last two stats belie the extreme dedication

Smoltz brings to everything he approaches in life. For the

first time ever, five MLB teams have agreed to allow the

American Sports Medicine Institute help track the careers

and health of the 2014 amateur

draft pitchers.

Smoltz is weighing in on what he considers an uphill

battle to protect younger players’ arms, saying that

parents and those in charge of youth baseball need to take

the lead to protect young players.

“…I wouldn’t say a word if it was getting
better. It’s getting worse. Ever since we
discussed and became focused with the pitch count,
it’s gotten worse….The business of baseball and
youth baseball is so great the people feel like
they’re being swept up in a wave of ‘I’ve got to
catch up’. …We’re not developing pitchers the
right way to learn how to do their craft. We’re
asking them to go as hard as you can, as short as
you can, and that’s not good enough….these guys
are not given the proper time to figure out what
kind of pitcher they are….”

Perhaps it is no surprise Smoltz engages in political

work —for both Democratic (Andrea Cascarilla, State Rep for

MI’s 71st House District, 2012) and Republican candidates

(Ralph E Reed Jr. Lt. Gov, Georgia Primary 2006).

This work perhaps developed as a result of his award-

winning public service:

*2005 Roberto Clemente Award (Baseball, sportsmanship,
community involvement);

*2007 Branch Rickey Award (Community Service);

A renaissance man since leaving MLB, Smoltz has worked

as an analyst for various sports shows, first at Peachtree

TV, then at Fox Sports.

This summer, while preparing his golf technique for

the American Century Championship in mid-July, Smoltz

became the subject of am in-accurate headline:

“Smoltz to have Tommy John surgery.” John Smoltz is

evolving, certainly, and requiring a lot of contact to keep

up with his latest moves. Yet, with someone so openly

telegraphing even his inner thoughts–past and present ,

such a gaf is confusing.

In this interview, for instance, he admits to

‘plunking’ a batter intentionally, for instance, and

ENJOYING being the guy in casual basketball who takes the

charge and gets an opponent the technical foul.

Landing on the floor intentionally.

For no paycheck.

No wonder he was voted into the HOF.

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