Brett Favre, John Smoltz Break Up with Teams

John Botelho@JohnBotelhoSJCorrespondent IIFebruary 13, 2009

With Valentine’s Day upon us this weekend, many people are caught in dates and relationships, dinners and candy; however, there is another side to Valentine’s Day.

I’m talking, of course, of relationships that used to be and such instances occur not just from person to person, but in the athletic world, too, from team to player.


Some relationships have ended with everyone saying, “it doesn’t surprise me,” because they’re relationships that never should’ve started in the first place; a relationship like the one Brett Favre had with the Jets.


Compared to his last “relationship” with the Packers, this one was short-lived and extremely unsuccessful. The Jets essentially dumped their now “ex” at the same position, Chad Pennington, who wound up leading the Dolphins to the division title.


While Pennington was busy getting to the playoffs, Favre was throwing interceptions with the game on the line, costing Eric Mangini his job.


The break up was a messy one, with teammates speaking out against Favre, saying they never wanted him anyway and that they didn’t agree with the decisions he made.


Other relationships that end, though, completely catch us off guard.


Relationships that have existed so long and made so much sense, that them ending seemed about as likely as the sun not rising. The best example of one of these relationships came about when John Smoltz signed a contract to pitch this season for the Boston Red Sox.


It took 20-years for Smoltz's relationship with the Braves to end.


In that time, Smoltz won 210 games for the Braves, and compiled 154 more saves. He made eight all star games, and helped Atlanta win 14 straight division titles and five National League pennants.


They brought home a World Series title together, the first title since Hank Aaron, who led the Tomahawks to a championship while the team still resided in Milwaukee.  The match seemed like one made in heaven, or at least on a well crafted dating website.


Then this winter, all of that changed.


Smoltz hit fee agency and all of a sudden the team based in Georgia was not the only one interested. Other teams wanted to experience a similar relationship, even if there was no chance that relationship could be as long or as great as what he had with the team he broke into the MLB with.


As I watched the press conference when Smoltz became a member of the Boston Red Sox, I knew that this was a great addition for the Yankees' biggest rival.


I also knew that even as a Sox fan, something felt wrong about it.


When he pulled the Boston B onto his head and settled it just above his brow, instead of a feeling of joy, I almost felt like someone had hit me in the stomach.


Seeing him with anything but the Braves cap on just seemed wrong.


The last time he didn’t don one, Ronald Regan was this country’s president when the MLB started its season, the Internet was still unheard of and Barack Obama was preparing for his first semester at Harvard Law School.


It also seemed especially off the mark when the reason he chose the Sox over them came out. His agent cited that the Red Sox had offered a more lucrative contract, giving him the opportunity to make a few million extra bucks if he pitches well.


A few million bucks to you and me is obviously huge, but consider that in his 20 seasons pitching for the Braves they wrote him checks totaling more than $130 million for his services.


They also showed him endless faith, resigning him despite one injury and surgery after another, even when they let go of sure-fire hall of famers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.


He was the face of their team, a guy who every fan loved, and an on and off field leader for one of the classiest organizations in all of sports.


If the reasoning for Smoltz ending his relationship had been a better one, I might feel better about this situation. If it was based on an opportunity to win or if he had a grown up in South Boston and was using this as a homecoming, it would make sense.


When Ray Bourque was traded from the Bruins to the Avalanche, people were okay with it because Bourque finally had a chance to raise Lord Stanley’s cup.


This situation with Smoltz is like so many others in sports and will always leave a bad taste in every Braves fans mouth. For those of you who don’t agree that this is a big deal, imagine the face of the franchise you grew up watching riding off into the sunset with someone else.


What if Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio finished their career in a Braves cap?


What if Derek Jeter signs a one-year deal with the Twins when he decides to go out?


Just like Michael Jordan leaving the Bulls for the Wizards or Hank Aaron finishing his career wearing a Brewers hat despite setting the home run record as a Brave, when John Smoltz pulls the Red Sox jersey on, it will always look somewhat wrong.


The relationship between Smoltz and the Braves was the one everyone compared themselves to and tried to emulate.


The situations between Favre and Smoltz are very different, despite ending the same way.


While fans in New York are happy to see Favre’s relationship extinguished, the fans in Atlanta will always be left wondering what happened to the perfect marriage of player and team.


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