- Next Friday, I’ll be at Turner Field watching the Braves retire number 31 in honor of the great Greg Maddux. Unfortunately, Tom Glavine won’t be there. No, it has nothing to do with his current problems with the Braves franchise. One son of his has a hockey tournament in Boston and another has a baseball tournament in Florida. The Braves will play a taped message from Glavine instead at the ceremony.
- Glavine has, of course, decided that he won’t be pitching in 2009. At 43, this effectively ends his career. It’s time and I think deep down he knows that. I get why he lashed out at the Braves organization the way he did … he was hurt. Thankfully, he didn’t act on the grievance and he can begin to think about his future. Like Maddux, I think Glavine has a future as a coach, or perhaps even a manager but I suppose only time will tell on that one. As for his unofficial retirement, if he doesn’t pitch again, Glavine will be eligible to go into the Hall of Fame alongside Greg Maddux in 2014.
- Terry Pendleton says that Cole Hamels reminds him of Tom Glavine. Hamels is a fine pitcher of course, but I don’t see the similarity at all. I’d say Terry should stick to his job as hitting coach, but frankly, that’s a position I’d love to see him give up. Still, I’ll always love T.P. for the 1991 and 1992 seasons.
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.)
Photo by Elb2000
Wednesday should give us a glimpse of Tom Glavine’s future as a major league pitcher. Prior to the Braves-Mets showdown at Citi Field, Glavine intends to simulate a rehab start in the bullpen. If all goes well, he’d like to make at least two minor league rehab starts. He could be ready to join the Braves in time for their next road trip.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about Tommy coming back. I cannot, obviously, hope that Glavine is injured. It’s just that the Braves have a glut of starting pitching and room will have to be made on the roster for Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen at some point soon. They are ready. Ironically, I think Glavine’s presence on the roster could could help Hanson and Medlen, but, barring injury, there’s no way all three could fit into the rotation.
If it weren’t for that little stint with the Mets, Tom Glavine would be my favorite player of all time. As it is, I only like Greg Maddux more. If he comes back, I will make a point of seeing him pitch in person one more time. I hope to one day make the trip to Cooperstown to see him inducted into the Hall of Fame (as I hope to for Maddux and that other guy). I just don’t see how he he fits in on this team … not when Hanson and Medlen look to be ready for the big time.
On the one hand …
All of the early indications from Glavine’s visit to Dr. James Andrews were positive. No tear was found, but he is suffering from inflammation of his rotator cuff. He’s been advised to rest his arm for two weeks. After rest and treatment, Glavine and the team will re-evaluate the situation. Frank Wren and Bobby Cox are spinning this as good news, and it is certainly better than a tear.
On the other hand …
Glavine himself doesn’t seem as positive about the news. He’s described the news as a glass half-empty. He hasn’t enjoyed rehab and doesn’t want to put himself in a situation where he could only pitch a half season. If I were a betting man, I say Glavine retires in a few weeks … if not sooner. He’ll know he gave it his all to get back and have one more good year, but sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.
What does this mean?
Well, it might mean that Tommy Hanson is given his chance to start to join the rotation. It also means that Glavine, I think, would be eligible to go into the Hall-Of-Fame at the same time as Greg Maddux. Now that would be special.
Apologies for using a picture of Glavine as a Met, but it was taken by my wife and I didn’t have time to look for another picture.
Tom has been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a mostly injury free career. When he went down with his elbow injury last year, I saw it as the perfect opportunity for him to step away from the game. I get that he didn’t want to be forced out of the game by an injury, but I thought it was in his best interest to quit. Still, once he signed I was hoping for the best.
His recent performances provided hope. Despite his near total loss of velocity, he was smart and crafty enough to fool hitters. I don’t think anyone thought he had any chance to challenge for a Cy Young award, but I didn’t think a 10-15 win year was out of the question.
Yesterday, during a game for Atlanta’s AA club in Mississippi, Glavine began experiencing some discomfort in his shoulder following an at-bat. He has been scratched from his planned start this weekend and will be replaced by Jo-Jo Reyes. He will visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham on Wednesday.
At this point, the severity of the injury isn’t known, but Glavine remains optimistic. I can’t help but think we’ve seen him pitch his last game.
The old guy had another good start … this time in an intrasquad game facing the Gwinnett Braves. He went six innings and did not give up a run. Even better, he didn’t give up a walk. If his fastball stays in the low 80s, location will be the key to any success he might have this season.