The Blog Squad

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Three Amigos

I lived in Atlanta when the Braves won the World Series in 1995. And believe me, it’s hard not to be a fan of that team when you live anywhere in the Deep South.

The Braves back then had so much class. They were filled with guys who played the game the right way, hard and with passion. They also relied on pitching in an era of the long ball. The Braves won 14 consecutive division titles (1991-2005) with that superior presence on the mound.

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz were the backbone of the Braves success, and make up, perhaps, the greatest pitching trio in history. Consider these sick stats that the three compiled in their careers.

* Maddux (Braves 1993-2003)
Record: 350-217
Cy Young Awards: 4
All-Star appearances: 8
Times led National League in wins: 3
Times led NL in ERA: 4
Times led NL in innings: 5
Gold Gloves: 17

*Glavine (Braves 1987-2002)
Record: 305-202
Cy Young Awards: 2
All-Star appearances: 10
Times led NL in wins: 5
Times led NL in games started: 6
Times won 20 games: 5

*Smoltz (1988-2008)
Record: 210-147, 154 saves
Cy Young Award: 1
All-Star appearances: 8
Times led NL in wins: 2
Times led NL in saves: 1
Times led NL in strikeouts: 2
Times led NL in games started: 3

These three pitchers are without question headed to the Hall of Fame. Maddux and Glavine are definite first-ballot inductees. Smoltz gets strong consideration because of his dominance as a starter and closer. In three years as predominately a bullpen stopper, Smoltz totaled 144 saves.

Glavine, 42, has indicated this is his final season. He was set to retire after last season, but a one-year offer to rejoin the Braves was too enticing. But he has won just two games in 12 starts this season and was recently placed on the disabled list for the second time in his career.
Maddux, 42, has a 3-4 record and a decent 3.33 ERA for the San Diego Padres. He won 14 games last season and has posted double-digit victories every year of his career that started in 1990. It may appear Maddux could pitch until he’s 50 and challenge Cy Young’s career win mark. But the righty has said he wants to spend more time with family. This will probably be his last season.

Smoltz, 41, had surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder on Tuesday. It could be months before the pitcher knows if he can pitch next season. He was 3-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 28 innings. I saw him pitch in May, and he was throwing it 95 mph with ease.

It is my hope that the three will retire after this season. Then in five years, we can honor the trio as they are inducted into the Hall of Fame together. That would indeed be a celebration of all things good in sports—no steroids, no spying, no rogue officials.

OUT AT HOME: Dick Trickle was a race car driver who competed at all levels including NASCAR. He also owned the best name in sports until he retired from full-time racing several years ago. Now comes his replacement for best name—Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Dick Pole. God bless those two for sporting those names.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: I never get tired of watching his swing. Congrats Junior!


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