He told me he and his dad would always watch the Braves play and watch the three big pitchers —Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine … He and his dad would go over a game: ‘What would you call here? What would you call there?’ The interesting thing is you had a right-handed control pitcher in Maddux, a left-handed control pitcher in Glavine and a power pitcher in Smoltz, so three different approaches to the same hitter, and they’d discuss the game that way.
Yes, Tommy Hanson’s debut didn’t go exactly as everyone hoped. As I write this, he’s just out of the game having given up seven runs, six earned, in six innings. After an easy first go-round the Brewers lineup, he got banged around a bit. The Braves are down 7-5 so, knowing the Braves offense, I think it is safe to say that Hanson will end the game with a loss and a 9.00 ERA.
I’ve got a lot of thoughts about Glavine’s departure that I’ll expand on over the next week or so, but there’s a few things I wanted to get down now while they are fresh in my mind.
First, Wren made the right decision. Baseball is a cold business. The Braves have a legitimate shot. If they were 10 games under .500, maybe you keep Tommy around for sentimental reasons. Not right now though. It’s time for Tommy Hanson to play in the majors, and Glavine is expendable.
Second, if Glavine wants to keep pitching, he’s got my support … even if I would prefer that he retire and walk into the Hall side by side with Greg Maddux. I’m as guilty as any fan of telling guys when they should quit, but seriously, who am I? Doesn’t it seem condescending to say that Hank Aaron should have quit before he was a Brewer or Willie Mays should have quit before he played for the Mets? Likewise with Glavine. If someone is willing to pay him to pitch, he’s earned the right to walk away as he chooses.
Finally, I think it’s up for every Brave fan to determine on their own how they’ll remember Tom Glavine. I understand that there are many who still hate him for his role in the Union during the 94 strike. (It only increased my admiration for him.) There are those who will never get past his departure for the Mets. (It seems to me there was plenty of blame to go around on that one … but it hurt seeing a Brave wearing a dirty, stinking, rotten Mets uniform.)
For me, I’ll remember Tom Glavine as the single most important player to the beginning of the streak. Sure, there were a lot of important pieces that came together to make that 1991 season so magical, but I believe it was Glavine’s emergence as one of the game’s best pitchers that made it the beginning of something truly special rather than just a fluke.
He’s also the guy who pitched his best game in his biggest game. Hell, it wasn’t just the biggest game in his career, it was the biggest game in the history of the Atlanta version of the Braves. Before game 6 on the 1995 World Series, there were two words said to every Braves fan hoping for a world championship. “Buffalo Bills.” Tommy went out and pitched one hit baseball against a mighty Cleveland Indians lineup. He wouldn’t allow his team to lose.
As someone who will root for the Braves until the day I die, I’ll never stop looking back on the streak, and those magical years where the Braves were able to send Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz to the mound day after day. It was baseball nirvana. As for Tommy, he pitched with brains and he pitched with guts and it was an honor to see him play. It was time for Atlanta to say goodbye, but still, it hurts.
(Now, let the Tommy Hanson era begin.)