SportsCrack Blog

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SMOLTZIE GOING FOR 3000 K

When Atlanta Braves ace John Smoltz takes the mound tonight against the Washington Nationals he will be looking to join the exclusive 3000 career strikeout club that only 15 other pitchers can claim membership. Needing just 4 K's tonight to reach the milestone, Smoltz pretty much will stamp himself a one-way ticket to Cooperstown once he reaches 3000(the only one not in the Hall with 3000 career K's is Bert Blyleven).

In fact did you know the 3000 K club is more elusive over a career than 300 victories(23), 500 homeruns(23), and 3000 hits(27)? Smoltz is one of the most underrated power pitchers of his era. Maybe he was cast in the shadow of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine for all those years but if you had a choice for a guy to be your starter for a pivotal game series clincher who would you want? I would take Smoltz without blinking an eye.

His post season pitching record is 15-4 with a 2.70 ERA. Smoltzie split-finger fastball and slider made him a great closer for 3 seasons(NL record 144 saves during that period) and yet he was still able to come back and pitch over 200 innings and record double digit victories while keeping an ERA in the low to mid 3's each season in his late 30's.

In layman's turn: Smoltzie is a beast.

Smoltz is also a great teammate who decided to stick with the Atlanta Braves organization when so many others left for more money(Tom Glavine for example). I know it sounds like a cliche but not many players play for one organization their whole career. The fact that Smoltz sacrificed his spot in the rotation to become a closer for the good of the team shows how great of a teammate he was. Of course Smoltz always knew he was a starter but never complained openly to the media and kept it behind close doors when he knew he should be back in the rotation. The Braves handled it with class and so did Smoltz when so many players and organizations are so quick to cut ties when things don't go right.

Smoltzie recorded his first K by smoking a high fastball past Darryl Strawberry 20 years ago at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Tonight I will stand and applaud him as he reaches another milestone in his Hall of Fame career against the Nationals at Turner Field. When he fools another hitter for his 3000th K I expect the crowd to roar and give him a standing ovation. The Commissioner Bud Selig should stumble up the mound with presumably a horrible speech and a handshake. Bobby Cox should pat him on his bald head and tell him one more time: "Good job Kid!"

John Andrew Smoltz affectionately known by teammates as Smoltzie, the future Hall of Famer, has earned and deserves it.

2 comments:

Johnny Utah said...

think all 3 ATLers are in the HOF? Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux?

Matt Fairchild (matt@sportscrack.com) said...

Yeah, I think all 3 will make the Hall, but Glavine will go in with a Met's hat. Just kidding of course.