Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz Should End it Where it All Began

Gary LloydSenior Analyst IJune 8, 2008

Tom Glavine, 42, is just 2-2 this season with an ERA over four with the Atlanta Braves.

Greg Maddux, 42, is a pedestrian 3-4 for a struggling San Diego Padres squad.

John Smoltz, 41, is 3-2 with an ERA under three, but will miss the rest of this season due to shoulder surgery.

I've known all three of these names ever since I started showing baseball some serious attention about 15 years ago.

I can't imagine sitting at home watching a Braves game without hearing one of those names.

But that inevitable thought could finally become an inevitability after this MLB season. All three want to continue pitching as long as possible, but saying something and having your body execute that task are completely different.

I hate seeing these sure-fire Hall of Famers struggle, because, simply, that's a rare thing for them to do. They have combined for 65 years of pitching immortality, and they deserve to go out on top.

And what better way than to retire as members of the Atlanta Braves?

Forty six of the aforementioned 65 years of pitching immortality came with Atlanta, so common sense leads you to believe that the majority of that success came with that organization.


The Statistics

The three have combined for 865 career wins. Of those, 648 have come with Atlanta. That's right at about 75 percent.

They've combined for 218 complete games, 76 shutouts, 8,930 strikeouts, 26 All-Star games, seven Cy Young awards and a 3.3 career ERA.

I could go into every statistical category, but you get the picture.


The Possibility of Returning

"If I'm healthy and pitching good, there's a possibility I'll be back," said Glavine earlier this season. "I can tell you now, the day the season ends, mentally and competitively I will want to play. Will I be able to do it physically? I don't know."

Maddux is still solid statistically considering his age and the team he plays for. He was the most accomplished of the three pitchers while in Atlanta, and a return would be fitting. In my opinion, he still has a couple years left in the tank.

Smoltz, on the other hand, has been hampered by injuries the last few seasons. He's having shoulder surgery Tuesday (June 10), ultimately ending his 2008 season. "I love pitching. I love the competition," said Smoltz. "I don't enjoy the pain anymore."

Right now, it seems that Glavine and Maddux are the two likely to return, while Smoltz's 2009 season is up in the air.


The Hall of Fame

All three are in. No doubting that. The question, however, is when? If the trio were to hang it up following this season, all would be on the ballot in December 2013.

Maddux and Glavine will be first-ballot pitchers because both have won over 300 games, a feat baseball fans may never see again. Smoltz is not a no-brainer for the first-ballot, but he should be, considering he's the only player in MLB history with over 200 wins and 150 saves.

Smoltz loves the idea of going into the Hall with Glavine and Maddux. "I would love it," said Smoltz. "I'd love it because it would be fitting in that we helped change the organization. We were the laughingstock of baseball before the '90s. Along with our manager and our front office, we helped turn the organization into something other teams emulated."

Tom loves the thought, too. "If that happens, you won't hear any of us complain," said Glavine.

Maddux focuses more on the individual aspect of the decision. "It's a family decision," Maddux said in an interview with Scott Miller of CBS Sportsline. "As much as I respect Smoltzy and like him, he's not family. It's a personal decision. And whether I still have the ability, that'll help decide it, too."


Final Thought

I wouldn't have written this article if I didn't believe there was a chance at these three retiring as Atlanta teammates. Therefore, I do believe it and sincerely hope it comes true.

Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz are great friends off the diamond, as they play golf together regularly. Whether it be golf or baseball, however, they perform individually. Glavine pitches, then Maddux and Smoltz watch. Maddux pitches, then Glavine and Smoltz watch. Smoltz pitches, then Glavine and Maddux watch.

"We've never coordinated anything in our careers," said Smoltz. Everything just happened and it's so much better that way. If it ends up we go into the Hall of Fame together, I guarantee it won't be orchestrated."

It won't be orchestrated, for sure, but hopefully when Glavine is giving his speech, Maddux and Smoltz are watching close by. Then, when Maddux is giving his speech, Glavine and Smoltz are watching. Finally, when Smoltz is giving his speech, Glavine and Maddux are watching.

And, of course, all as members of the Atlanta Braves.








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