So I phoned John Smoltz — now professional broadcaster and media leech — Wednesday and still couldn’t get him to utter the “r” word. Don’t know why. When a guy tells you that his “desire” to pitch “is not where it was three months ago,” it seems to me the decision has been made.
But if you’re wondering what the odds are of Smoltz actually pitching in a major league game again, think this: long shot.
“Good question,” he said, when asked what the numbers when be in a sports book. “I would say 50-1.”
Kind of long, isn’t it?
“There’s been some 50-1 horses that have won.”
I’ll say it: Smoltz is done. When I spoke to him last month, before spring training camps opened, he said he was at peace with whatever happened. But he also expressed a strong desire to extend his career. But that wasn’t the case today.
“At the end of the day, I knew I wasn’t going to get 15 offers,” he said. “I thought there might be a few teams that would have some interest. What I decided to do was stay in shape and throw, or not throw, and see what trends developed with some teams. My desire to work out every day is still there. But my desire to throw 50 to 70 times a day isn’t.”
Now, would that change if a team phoned Smoltz and said, “We need a fifth starter,” or, “We need a closer”? Maybe. But if that burning desire that fueled him in his career is absent now, with the season on the verge of starting, the decision really already has been made.
Smoltz again: “I think everyone understands that with the [broadcasting] role I have now, I don’t mind saying the chances [of pitching] are pretty slim. I don’t know what slim means. Maybe I make that announcement in 10 days. Maybe in 30 days. Just let me get through this week. I can’t imagine it will go on that long. But there are a lot of things swimming through my head right now.”
Final thought: There’s going to be an accidental reunion of the Braves’ great pitching rotation of Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux in a few weeks in the press box at Turner Field. The Braves play host to the Chicago Cubs in the opening series of the season. Maddux is now an assistant general manager for the Cubs. Glavine is an assistant to the president of the Braves. Smoltz will be working two of the games with Bob Costas for the MLB Network.
“There’s got to be some commercial we can get out of this,” Smoltz said.
While all three guys sit back and sing, “Glory Days.”