Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday Sports August 13 Smoltz

Thursday Morning Sports!

August 13 2009 Edition

Ok, so today's blog feature post is about sports. What about sports? Well, sometimes this will feature deep, thought provoking sports stories. As I get back into doing historical research, some of what you'll see here are great inspirations from the history of sports. You'll see things about odd sports and great sportsmen. You might read stories of how sports led the way in societal transformation.

But today we're going to talk about John Smoltz. Why? Not because I dislike Smoltz. Far from it. He's generally been a great pitcher, and, from accounts I read, I good person as well. Not knowing him personally, all I've got are second-hand words.

So why talk about him? Well, here's a guy that pitched marvelously for the Atlanta Braves. Did so for many years. Then he got hurt. Had surgery, tried to come back. Couldn't quite start, so he moved to a spot as a relief pitcher, primarily as a closer. And John Smoltz as a closer was one of the scariest things opposing teams faced that year. If the Braves had been able to shore up starting pitching (and offense!) that year, it would have been tremendous. Unfortunately, they didn't. One of the reasons was the hope that Smoltz would return as a starter, and they didn't want to take his spot.

Well, return he did, but he wasn't quite as dominating, and then he got hurt again. Which led to more surgery more rehab. This year, the Braves had let him go, which wasn't a real good public relations move, but they did it anyway. He went to the Boston Red Sox. And guess what? He pitched awfully for them. So bad that a Cy Young Award winner and probable Hall of Famer has been cut from the team. Officially, he's “designated for assignment” which means he ain't playing for the Red Sox, they're just not sure what to do with him. Probably he'll get cut completely.

Which brings us to my question: Why not, especially if you're the Braves, see if you can get him back and in the bullpen, relieving? That's long been a shortfall for Atlanta. Shaky relief pitching. Smoltz seems to get hurt on long outings. And typical relievers have 2 or 3 pitches, while he's got 4 or 5. Plus, you've got a guy that is semi-decent with a bat.

What would stop them? Well, he might not want to do it. He might want to keep trying to be a starter. They might not want to pay him enough. He has to decide what he wants to do, where he wants to be.

What about us? How often do we hold onto one phase of life too long? Do we resist seeing that, perhaps, what we love to do isn't defined by filling one position, but the greater activity we're involved in? Would we take a different role to stay in it? Would we let other people define our role, or do we insist on doing it our way? Those of you who lead organizations and people, are you willing to encourage someone into something they are reluctant to do, because they'd be good at it?

If the Braves will ask him to come back, there might be a wild-card slot in their future this season. And if all the Phillies get swine flu and forfeit a week, a division championship again. If the Braves will do their part and secure a good man, great player, I'll do what I can: stay off the field, and try to find someone to go cough all over the Philadelphia dugout.

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