Jeff Shultz of the AJC spoke with John Smoltz today to see if he’s retiring or not. Smoltz wouldn’t use the word, but placed his odds of pitching again at 50-1 and said “My desire to work out every day is still there. But my desire to throw 50 to 70 times a day isn’t.” So yeah, I’d say he’s done.
While he’s probably my least favorite of the Braves’ Big Three, and certainly wasn’t the best, there’s an argument that John Smoltz was the most important in many ways. He was traded to the Braves by the Tigers just after my allegiances had shifted from the Braves to the Tigers in 1987, so he’s obviously an important figure in my fandom as well. Still, I don’t think I’ve yet worked out all my feelings about John Smoltz yet — his retirement, such as it is, was a bit less anticipated than Glavine’s or Maddux’s — so I’ll save the career eulogy for a spell while I think on it.
Short version: yes, Hall of Famer, but that’s not terribly interesting to me. I’m more interested in what he meant to the Braves and their fans. What he represented in that tenuous way players can represent anything. I’ll dive into it more when I gather my thoughts.
Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.
Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.
Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.
Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit another jaw-dropping home run, victimizing Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the top of the fourth game of Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t even move. The ball traveled 457 feet and was hit 117 MPH off the bat, according to Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues.
The home run moved Judge’s AL-best total to 37, putting him two ahead of the Royals’ Mike Moustakas. Along with the prodigious dinger total, he has 80 RBI, 90 runs scored, and a .291/.421/.616 triple-slash line in 499 plate appearances. Judge is on pace for 50 dingers. If it holds, that would give him the rookie record for home runs in a season. Mark McGwire currently holds the record, having hit 49 for the Athletics in 1987.