Posts Tagged ‘All-star

12
Feb
10

Tom Glavine officially retires to join Braves front office

After 22 iconic years, Atlanta Braves legendary ace Tom Glavine has officially called it a career.

But, while Glavine closed the books on his Hall of Fame worthy playing days, he announced he’s set to embark on a new endeavor with the Braves.

Glavine’s retirement yesterday came at the same time as his introduction as the newest member of the Braves’ broadcast team and a special assistant to team president John Schuerholz.

The 305-game winner’s tasks will include front-office work, some Braves radio and TV broadcasting, and also some on-field coaching at spring training and in the minor leagues.

In his new flexible role with the club, Glavine will assist Schuerholz and GM Frank Wren on various business projects while helping with the development and analysis of Major and Minor League talent.

Glavine’s latest reunion with the Braves seems to cement the end of a storied yet stormy past between the two.

You could relate Tom Glavine’s relationship with the Atlanta Braves to a complicated marriage.

Glavine spent 16 esteemed years with the Braves, where he was a 10-time All-Star and went on to win 12 consecutive division titles, two Cy Young Awards, and one World Championship with World Series MVP honors as the cherry on top.

Then, came the messy split heard ’round the world.

After the 2002 season, much to the shock and chagrin of Braves loyalists and team officials, Glavine departed for the rival New York Mets.

And, it was ugly.

Glavine and then-GM John Schuerholz engaged in a very public war of words. Glavine openly bashed the Braves, which didn’t sit kindly with Atlanta’s very private general manager.

It was a classic case of “he-said/he-said” with Schuerholz even recounting the heated negotiations between the club and Glavine in his book, Built to Win.

On the surface, it appeared the Braves and Glavine would never reconcile.

Then, after five underwhelming years with the Mets, the seemingly impossible happened.

The Braves and Glavine reached out to each other and mended fences.

In Nov. 2007, new GM Frank Wren brought Glavine back to the organization that made him one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.

But, the fairytale reunion was short-lived.

On Apr. 18, 2008, Glavine was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his remarkable career.

Glavine struggled to regain his form and health that season, but worked out a deal to return to the Braves on a one-year contract in 2009.

But, the return was never to be.

The Braves unceremoniously released Glavine on June 3, 2009, while the southpaw was finishing his rehabilitation, just five days before his scheduled June 7 season debut.

Glavine ripped the front office again, and this time it seemed their relationship hadn’t just soured, but that it had been irreparably damaged for good.

The two sides didn’t speak until Thanksgiving when Schuerholz reached out to Glavine to apologize for the way the team handled his release.

Ultimately, the two set aside their differences and realized for all their bickering, they’ve always shared the same common ground—their great love for the Braves.

You could liken Glavine’s past bitterness towards his bosses to that of a partner scorned.

He sometimes felt undervalued and underappreciated by the Braves, lashing out not once but twice.

But, it was not out of hatred, it was out of hurt.

For their part, the Braves knew Glavine’s face was the one associated with the franchise’s success during their dynasty years, but they were the stubborn half of the pair who didn’t want to give in to their often high maintenance star’s demands.

In the end, the two came full circle.

Their relationship wasn’t the prettiest or the smoothest, but it was one that endured.

It was the union that would bend, and bend some more, but never broke.

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23
Dec
09

Braves give Troy Glaus one-year deal to play first base

Troy Glaus, shown here with the St. Louis Cardinals

The Atlanta Braves believe they have found their right-handed power hitting first baseman.

The Braves and free agent Troy Glaus reportedly have agreed to terms on an incentive laden, one-year deal.

The contract is believed to be worth a base salary of $2 million included with incentive clauses based on the number of games Glaus plays.

Glaus, 33, spent most of the 2009 season recovering from shoulder surgery and missed all but 14 games with the St. Louis Cardinals last year.

The four-time former All-Star underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder in January of 2009 but suffered setbacks in his recovery with the Cardinals and didn’t return to the club until September.

In an effort to show teams he is now healthy, Glaus underwent a physical in early December and made his records available to all major league clubs.

The deal is still pending a physical and probably won’t be announced until after Christmas.

The Braves believe Glaus is fully recovered and can handle the full-time first base duties for the team this season.

He will become Atlanta’s 11th different opening day starting first baseman in the past 12 years, replacing free agent 1B Adam LaRoche, who the Braves didn’t make an effort to re-sign.

Glaus is a former third baseman and has only played six games at first base in his career.

However, the Braves believe his large 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame and athletic ability will make him a more than suitable first baseman.

Glaus, a former American League home run leader, has 304 dingers in 12 seasons including at least five seasons with 30 or more homers and two with 40-plus bombs.

If he can stay healthy, Glaus will provide the Braves with the right-handed power their predominately left-handed line-up had lacked in 2009.

Glaus could provide third baseman Chipper Jones with much needed protection in the middle of Atlanta’s order and together they could prove to be an intimidating tandem for opposing pitchers to face.

The two of them have combined for 730 home runs and 2,324 RBIs in 27 major league seasons but both have been hampered with nagging injuries throughout their careers.

For his 12-year career, Glaus has posted a .856 on-base/slugging percentage while hitting 20 or more homers eight times, including in 2008 when he hit 27 HRs in his last full season with the Cardinals.

He began his career with the Angels where he was crowned the 2002 World Series MVP.

17
Jul
09

A tribute to an icon… Greg Maddux to be inducted into Braves Hall of Fame.

Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux

Many people have asked me what was the inspiration or driving force behind my choice to pursue a degree and profession in sports journalism?

It began with my love of writing. Journalism was my craft.

My career path’s journey veered toward sports with my passion for Braves baseball, which was due largely to one man… one man so superhuman, so awe-inspiring, so talented and gifted, that I knew his kind did not come around often.

That man was Greg Maddux. Pitching was his craft.

And tonight, before the Braves take on the division rival New York Mets at Turner Field, Maddux is being so rightfully and deservingly inducted into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame. The team will also retire his jersey number 31.

I’m only 25 years old but today I feel my age.

This is because I remember so vividly the day, December 9, 1992, the Braves shocked the baseball world and announced that they had won the heated pursuit of the free agent reigning National League Cy Young Award Winner.

For the Braves, and former General Manager John Schuerholz, to give a free agent a five-year contract, the significance and magnitude of this signing would resonate for years to come.

Greg Maddux went on to win three more consecutive National League Cy Young Awards with the Braves, becoming the first of only two pitchers, Randy Johnson being the second, in history to ever win the coveted award four years in a row.

I knew I was witnessing history every time Mad Dog stepped on the mound.

One year in the particular is really engrained in my memory.

I was in Philadelphia during the 1995 season, watching Maddux’s pre-game bullpen session, as I always had every time I had seen him pitch live before.

But this time was different.

Maddux had an ungodly ERA and was trying to become one of the select pitchers in history to accomplish the feat of finishing a season with an ERA under the 2.00 mark. (He did, of course, finishing the ’05 season with a 1.63 ERA.)

This moment was significant to me because it was then that it officially clicked in my mind… I was in the presence of greatness.

A greatness that sports fans can only read about in the history books and wish they could have been able to personally witness.

Not only did I get to live in an era that produced arguably the greatest pitcher of our generation in Greg Maddux, but I was afforded the great honor and privilege to see him pitch first-hand every five days for the 11 years he donned an Atlanta Braves uniform.

That’s quite an embarrassment of riches. And, I knew it.

But, I never once took it for granted, which is not something I can say is true of my time as a Braves fan.

During the Braves unprecedented run of fourteen consecutive division titles, I honestly believed it would never end. As sure as the sun would be shining every morning, I was convinced there wouldn’t be an October that didn’t include the Atlanta Braves.

Call it wishful thinking; call it a confident swagger, but playoff baseball and the Braves, to me, were one in the same. Obviously, my thought process was absurd. Everything comes to an end in sports, even the most remarkable of streaks.

But the one thing I knew for certainty that would end was the Greg Maddux Era. That is why I tried to make it a point to never miss one start, one interview, or one chance to see him live and in person.

And, I didn’t.

It is because of Greg Maddux that I will always prefer a good pitcher’s duel to a slugfest.

It is because of Greg Maddux that I will forever respect finesse pitchers and have a deep appreciation for the art of control. He wasn’t flashy. His stuff wasn’t overpowering. But, he was as accurate as any pitcher to ever play the game.

It is because of Greg Maddux that I’ve become thirsty for an even greater knowledge of the game. They called him “The Professor” at times. Not just because of the glasses he would sport off the field but for the great intellect and insight he would provide on the game of baseball. He was more then a teacher and mentor, he was a true strategist, just a fountain of knowledge that one could only hope to begin to tap. Some called him the smartest pitcher they’ve ever seen. I’d have to agree.

It is because of Greg Maddux that my faith in iconic baseball figures is not completely shattered. Growing up in the “Steroid Era” and watching so many big names fall victim to the juice, I take even greater pride knowing that Maddux played the game the right way—cleanly, and with integrity and class. His numbers always spoke for themselves but with the likes of Roger Clemens, whose records are now tarnished with the all too familiar asterisk next to them, it elevates Maddux to an even greater level.

His legacy is now cemented in the history books.

While it was sad for me personally to watch Maddux leave the Braves and go on to win his 300th game in a Chicago Cubs uniform, before then finishing his career out west, I do feel his benchmark years were those spent in Atlanta.

Today’s induction in the Braves Hall of Fame is only the beginning.

The greatest culmination of his career comes later… when he is inducted into Cooperstown.

Greg Maddux, the 4-time Cy Young winner.

Greg Maddux, the 8-time All-Star.

Greg Maddux, the record 18-time Gold Glover.

Greg Maddux, the 300-game winner.

All of those accomplishments are remarkable but can’t compare to the ultimate: Greg Maddux, the World Champion.

That last feat, which came when he was a member of the Braves in 1995, is why I know Greg Maddux will go into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame as an Atlanta Brave.

That would be the final and only fitting ending to an illustrious career.

Greg Maddux was a master of his craft and if I can be half the journalist that he was pitcher, then my career path was indeed the chosen one.

07
May
09

In the eye of the beholder….

3-time All-Star Brian McCann

3-time All-Star Brian McCann

What in the world is wrong with Brian McCann?

If that’s the burning question on the minds of all of you in BravesNation … you’re not alone.

Brian himself remains in the dark concerning his condition and the level of its seriousness.

McCann has been battling blurred vision and dryness in his left eye for the majority of the season and has been on the DL since April 25th in an effort to solve the mystery of his on-going eye ailment.

The Braves All-Star catcher underwent Lasik eye surgery before the 2008 season, but found out from an eye specialist that his eyesight had worsened since the surgery, leaving him more near-sighted in his left eye.

Initially, when this problem crept up early in the season, it seemed like a minor issue that could be rectified with something simple like a few ointments and new contact lenses.

Wrong.

Three eye specialists, three different contacts and numerous ointments and drops later … the saga continued.

McCann attempted to avoid a DL stint, but reported discomfort with the contacts and saw no decrease in the blurred vision that plagued him, which left the team no choice but to disable him.

Now, the experiment continues… this time with sport glasses, which Brian will try out in a minor league rehabilitation start for Triple A Gwinnett on Thursday. This comes a day later than expected, after the new eyeglasses arrived on Wednesday missing the right lens.

The Braves catcher plans to wear a hockey style facemask to protect his glasses, which will also allow him the ability to make the necessary plays in the field.

McCann and the Braves are hoping these new glasses will solve the problem, allowing B-Mac to be activated from the DL when he’s eligible on Friday before the Braves open a three-game series in Philadelphia.

The prescription glasses are McCann’s last ditch effort to avoid yet another Lasik surgery to repair the condition and to get the slugger through the season.

With the way the Braves offense has struggled with McCann out of the line-up, you can be sure that the team’s brass, his teammates and fans will all be waiting with bated breath on Thursday, hoping to get the good news that their catcher is set to return.




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