We learned last week that former pitching great John Smoltz was going to play in a local qualifier in hopes of advancing to play in one of golf’s biggest tournaments: the U.S. Open.
Unfortunately, we find out today that Smoltz, despite carrying a 2-handicap, came up short. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
He didn’t embarrass himself, but didn’t make it, either. His 6-over 76 was six shots away from contention. Smoltz didn’t play poorly, but he failed to hit his approach shots close enough to give himself a chance to make birdies.
The real difference came on the greens, where Smoltz had trouble getting anything to drop. After missing a two-footer on his 11th hole, he quipped, “That’s what happens when you don’t putt gimmes.” He later predicted a putter change, saying he’d probably make a call to the bullpen for one of the 25 different putters he owns.
Despite his putting woes, Smoltz showed he still had the ability to close the deal when he banged in a 20-footer to save par on the final hole, a conclusion that drew applause from the 100 or more who gathered there to watch.
His dream temporarily dashed, Smoltz will return to broadcasting games for MLB and the Turner Network, and presumably, since he has yet to retire, searching for a team. Smoltz has said he would like to play on the Champions Tour when he becomes eligible – by turning 50 – in 2017. With seven years to practice, and Smoltz’s competitive fire, don’t be surprised if it happens.
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.
In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.
The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.
“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”
Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.