Okay, this particular week on the schedule can be called “Ground Zero” at this point because it looks to be the ‘making’ or ‘breaking’ point. Needless to say, The Nation has gone Ape Sh!t and collectively pushed the panic button. Management as well needed to push a button or two… and ejected future HOF John Smoltz.
Now, don’t read too deeply into this, I am not a dedicated Smoltzie fan. I follow the Braves because of their Beantown connection and are my NL alternative, but have never been a ‘fan’. I liked the signing of this 22 year veteran because it added postseason experience in the form of a guy who would do anything the club requested of him, much in the mold of Tim Wakefield.
And to those keeping score… I’m pretty sure a nutless monkey could have figured he wasn’t coming to town to win a Cy Young.
The Sox are not in a tailspin, a meltdown or anything other than a funk. The pitching is going through it’s normal semi-seasonal spasm which just happens to be overlapping with the drought of power at the plate. Hell… nevermind power, how many times can you get two or three guys on with one or NO outs and not score?
Smoltz should have been accepted for what he was, a veteran pitcher with a reconstructed shoulder who could still go an inning or two to help float the bullpen and hold things together mentally for the younger guys in the stretch run. He should not have been called upon to start. Sorry Theo & Tito, but no. Spot start sure, on a day when you know the bullpen will be required, but not to stand in as a regular starter. Yes, with Wake going down and Dice-K going to Dunkin’ Donuts during the WBC we needed that stand in, but Masterson at the time and perhaps a Bowden/Tazawa experiment could have fared better. But Smoltz is apparently gone (unless he decides to tough out some more time in Pawtucket) and now we’ll never know what a Smoltz seventh, Saito eighth and Pap ninth will look like. Imagine that in the House that Ruth Financed in October..!
Time will tell. Tazawa is here, Dice-K shall return and Wake is expected next week. With a little luck and some timely hitting all will be the normal controlled late season chaos in The Nation.