We all but had a stopwatch on it in the press box Wednesday night. How long would it take for John Smoltz to rip the Braves for releasing Tom Glavine? If you had four hours, you won the pool.
After reading Smoltz’s latest rant, I thought, “Par for the course.” (Par. Course. Golf. Smoltz. Funny, huh?) Because that’s what John Smoltz does: He takes every slight, real or imagined, and personalizes it and stews over it and nurtures his resentment. I know.
It was 1997, the year after Smoltz won his Cy Young award, and he was pitching badly by his lofty standards. I wrote as much. The next day he stomped through the clubhouse and glowered but didn’t say a word to me. Because part of being John Smoltz is to smolder from afar.
I told one of the Braves’ announcers — I won’t say who — that Mr. Smoltz appeared to be displeased with my printed appraisal. And the announcer said, “The truth hurts.”
Not long afterward, Smoltz worked a good game — even I would never suggest he’s anything less than a Hall of Fame pitcher — and was surrounded by the usual media throng. Casting his glance across the clubhouse, he saw yours truly interviewing someone else. And he told the throng, “There’s Mark Bradley. If he comes over here I’ll have to stop talking to all of you. Because that guy dogged me out.”
(Dogged? Hmm. In his early days with the Braves, Smoltz’s nickname was Marmaduke. I have no idea if this is apropos of anything.)
Naturally, my colleagues were happy to inform me of Smoltz’s anti-MB stance, and I, not wanting to deprive my brother and sister journalists of the torrent of insight that is Smoltz, simply stopped going near him. And you know who found it all hilarious? Glavine, who dubbed me, “Smoltzie’s favorite journalist.” (Have I mentioned that Glavine is my all-time favorite Brave?)
Never mind that I’d written 10 gushing Smoltz columns over the previous decade. Those were eradicated by my one egregious sin. Since he didn’t want to talk with me, I mostly stopped writing about him. When he did something great, I’d say he did something great — fair’s fair — but I kept my distance.
We wouldn’t even say hello when we passed in the hall. (I know, saying hello is a two-way street. But I can be stubborn, too.) I did break my moratorium to shake his hand and say, “Congratulations,” after he won his 200th game. And he did say, “Thanks.” And that, to this day, is the extent of our contact over the past dozen years.
Having been on the end of a Smoltz grudge, I wasn’t surprised by the vitriol he hurled at Frank Wren after negotiations with the Braves broke down. (I’d have been surprised if he’d done anything else.) And for Smoltz to pile on regarding Glavine is simply another chapter in a lengthening tome.
Because that’s John Smoltz, who has apparently convinced himself the team that employed him for two decades, the team that essentially let him decide whether he wanted to start games or close them, was out to get him — and his little pal Tom, too. You might think he has point. I think he’s just being petty.
But I’ve got a history with Marmaduke. I’m the guy who dogged him out back in 1997. And oops, I did it again.
Rip-A-Hall-Of-Famer Friday: In case you missed it, here’s what I thought of Tom Glavine’s appearance on 790 the Zone this morning.