John Smoltz Should Be Signed by Braves for One Last Start

Brian ChmielewskiContributor IAugust 8, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 07:  John Smoltz #29 of the Atlanta Braves delivers a pitch against the New York Mets on May 7, 2006 at Shea Stadium in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Braves defeated the Mets 13-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

John Smoltz was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Friday following another poor outing. The future Hall of Famer has been anything but this season. He has posted an earned run average of 8.32 and is just 2-5.

Smoltz has 212 career wins and 154 career saves, with a 3.32 ERA. For the bulk of the '90s and early 2000s, Smoltz was one of the most dominating and feared pitchers in the game.

During the Braves' run to 14 straight division titles, Smoltz was considered one of the best big game pitchers ever. He signed with the Red Sox before this season after feeling the Braves did not really want him back. Now, of course, Braves general manager Frank Wren looks pretty smart for refusing to pay Smoltz millions in order to return to Atlanta.

However, Wren and Smoltz have paid dearly in public relations for the fiasco of not re-signing Smoltz. Now, they both have a chance at redemption—as well as an opportunity to let Braves fans say goodbye to one of their franchise's all-time greats.

The Braves should re-sign Smoltz for one start the last game of the season, just as they did with Phil Niekro in 1987 after he had been released by Toronto. Niekro did not get the win or pitch all that well (3 IP, 5 R), but most Braves fans just remember one last chance to say goodbye to Niekro, in the right uniform.

There are obvious financial benefits to signing him for one game. It would sell out whether the Braves are in the race or not. Plus, you can market a program remembering Smoltz's career and commemorating his last start.

However, the real reason to do this with Smoltz is because it is what should be done. So many times in sports the right thing does not happen: Brett Favre playing in Minnesota (which I still think will happen), Tom Glavine with the Mets, and many, many others.

But sports should be one of the places where we get the happy ending to the movie in real life. In this case, there is a chance for everybody to win. Smoltz can finish his career in the uniform he should have never left, and we can all remember that four months with Boston as just a bad dream.