Baseball: Schilling’s retired; will Smoltz step up as new Red Sox go-to guy?
RETIRED: Curt Schilling (AP)
As Red Sox Nation mourns the loss of gutsy starting pitcher / World Series winning “Curse” breaker / Bloody Sock legend / fan favorite Curt Schilling (to retirement) at age 42 after 23 years of gritty play on the diamond and blunt, sometimes controversial commentary off it, those of us among the Braves Faithful feel their pain – somewhat.
After all, it was to Boston that we lost our own gritty, gutsy, oft-controversial, play-through-the-pain go-to guy, John Smoltz, this January.
WHY THEY’LL MISS SCHILLING
- WIN-WIN-WIN SITUATIONS: Schilling won a World Series with Arizona in 2001 and with Boston in 2004 and 2007.
- THE CURSE REVERSED: In his first year in Boston in 2004, he helped the team win its first World Series in 86 years, pitching Game 2 of a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals after a surgical procedure to suture a loose tendon in his right ankle and with blood seeping through his sock. The sock is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But we here in Atlanta know that the Red Sox and their fans shouldn’t miss a step with Smoltzie wearing No. 29 for Boston.
The guy only went from starter to closer for the Braves in 2001 after coming back from Tommy John surgery and… posted an NL record 55 saves in the process. Then he returned to a starting role four years later. We’re just saying.
REVAMPED: John Smoltz (AP)
WHY THEY’LL LOVE SMOLTZ
- THE K FACTOR: Smoltz is only the third player to record 3,000 strikeouts while pitching for the same team.
- FLEXIBILITY: After undergoing major arm surgery in 2000, Smoltz made the transition from starting pitcher to closer. He finished the 2002 season with an NL record 55 saves, and followed that with 49 saves in 2003.
- HARDWARE HISTORY: He won the NL’s 1996 Cy Young Award with a 24-8 record. Plus a World Series ring in 1995.
- JUST THE STATS: He’s an eight-time All-Star selection with one World Series title (1995) and has pitched in 24 postseason series with a 2.65 overall ERA.
Braves fans AND Sox fans, tell us where you think John Smoltz will fit into the scheme of things for Boston with Curt Schilling retired: Will Smoltzie be able to help carry the BoSox in the same way he did the Braves for so many years or will a younger pitcher need to step up?