An Open Letter to John Smoltz

Joel Barker@joelabarkerSenior Writer IJune 6, 2009

WASHINGTON - APRIL 12:  John Smoltz #29 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Washington Nationals April 12, 2008 at Nationals Park in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

I will try to keep this as respectful as possible, because you are still my favorite Atlanta Braves player of all time.

I understand that you were upset after the Braves “disrespected” you back in January. I was quite upset as well.

Seriously man, you need to get over it soon. Your constant hostility and sour grapes are getting old.

I know you passed up on a $53 million deal from George Steinbrenner to sign for $30 million with Atlanta, and I applaud you for that. It’s one of the many reasons you are still one of my favorite baseball players.

But that happened three arm surgeries ago.  It is no longer valid to use that as a reason to convince yourself and everyone else that the Braves were disrespectful to you after all you did for the organization.

We loved the 200+ wins and 154 saves. We loved the grittiness and competitiveness that you displayed on the mound. I will never forget that game seven in the 1991 World Series. It will forever be one of the greatest games I have ever watched.

Your postseason numbers are unmatched, and quite possibly will stay that way for quite some time. But John, you are not going to anchor a staff any time soon.

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As a matter of fact, John, you probably will never be anything more than a fifth starter ever again.

That’s why the Braves “disrespected” you. They offered you $2 million to become a fourth or fifth starter. As a matter of fact, John, that contract was offered to you less than six months after you experienced, what many consider to be, a career ending injury and surgery! After having two other surgeries on the same arm earlier in your career!

No John, you left for a club that guaranteed you $3 million more than Atlanta could afford for a 41-year-old pitcher coming off career-threatening surgery.

That’s right John, you passed up on an extra $23 million in the prime of your career, but when you were seemingly finished you left for $3 million extra—which, by the way, would have been equaled had you reached the incentives laid out in the contract.

Look, you need to understand that this Braves team was rebuilding for the future.

We would have loved to see you retire in a Braves uniform. Heck, when you come to Atlanta in a couple of weeks with your new team, I will give you a standing ovation, and I might even cry if you take the mound for the Red Sox.

I just wish you would quit damaging your legacy by showing how long you can hold a grudge against a team that was completely justified in letting you go elsewhere.

I was fine and even agreed with you at first, but after you “weighed in” on the Glavine release, I had just about had enough of your public posturing.

You said that it “ain't no way to treat'' Tom Glavine, when Atlanta released him after a rehab stint, which followed a season-ending injury and surgery, in which he no longer looked like a major league pitcher.

You didn’t stop there though, John. You continued to bad mouth the organization that employed you for over 20 years by saying, "I'm using a very soft word in 'disappointed' because that ain't right."

I know you and Glavine are buds. I understand that you felt you were done wrong by the Braves as well. But if you haven’t noticed, the teams that continue to pay aging players past their prime (’08 Yankees, ’09 Mariners) are not doing that well in the standings—especially when you consider all the talent that someone like Glavine would have held up in order for him to pitch ineffectively in 20 or so games.

I understand that as a human, Tom Glavine was done wrong by the Braves. But I also understand that this is a big money business and that Atlanta wants to get back into the playoffs.

So I’m asking, no I’m begging you to stop with the verbal sparring. Braves fans will always love you for what you did on the field, but if you continue to bad mouth the organization that we love, a lot of us will turn on you.

I don’t want to hear people booing you if you do get to take the mound when your Red Sox come to visit. I want you to have a standing ovation for 5 minutes. I want to see people with tears in their eyes.

So please, John, just stop.

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