2005 NEWS

2005 News > 7/7/05

GLAVINE BELONGS BACK HERE

By Terence Moore, AJC.com

They've done it a lot. They did it with Darrell Evans, Terry Pendleton, Doyle Alexander, Mike Bielecki, Paul Byrd, Otis Nixon, Vinny Castilla and Phil Niekro (well, for a game). They're also still doing it, with Brian Jordan, for instance.

So those who run the Braves should continue their lovely tradition as an Atlanta franchise of reaching into their past to help their present. They should swallow their pride, dial New York City and bring Tom Glavine back to the place of choppers and chanters that he never should have left. And, yes, I know his departure three years ago was by choice, with much help from a potential $42.5 million from the Mets, but who cares about little details?

John Smoltz doesn't. "Sure, yeah. I'd love to have him back," Smoltz said Wednesday night at Turner Field, where he is the last of the Big Three of Cy Maddux, Cy Glavine and Cy Smoltz.

Then there is Leo Mazzone, the brilliant pitching coach, who hinted that, in the event of a Glavine trade to the Braves, he'd fly east to help Glavine and his wife, Christine, pack. "He's always looked funny in a Mets uniform. Just like [Greg] Maddux looks funny in a Cubs uniform, even though he wore it before," said Mazzone, with eyes twinkling, especially when he returned to the face of the Braves from the late 1980s to his departure after the 2002 season. "Of course, even though I'd love to see Glavine back here," said Mazzone, before adding with a laugh, "I'm just dreaming."

Maybe not. With the Mets becoming their usual mess by the All- Star break, Glavine said this week that he'd ignore the no-trade clause in his contract before the July 31 deadline. He said there is a "real short list of teams" he'd consider, but you know what that means: The guy who still has a house in Alpharetta wouldn't mind using it often during the regular season.

How about it, Mr. Schuerholz? "I will say that I like Tom personally," said general manager John Schuerholz, who preferred not to add more than that to avoid tampering charges. As for the opinion of Braves manager Bobby Cox on a possible Glavine return, let's just say that he'd likely agree to drive the moving van.

It doesn't matter that the three starting pitchers the Braves lost due to injury are close to recovering. You can't get enough pitching. Plus, you can forget Glavine's ugly numbers these days. Those numbers are fraudulent. First, as you might expect, the Braves know a few tricks about how to make life miserable for their old teammate with the left arm built for control. He is 1-8 against the Braves with an 8.81 ERA. If the Braves weren't in the mix, Glavine's record in New York would be a respectable 24-27 with a 3.71 ERA.

You also must consider the Andruw Jones factor. The Braves have him. The Mets haven't anything close. "Even though our pitching staff has won a lot of ERA titles through the years, Andruw should get all of the saves," said Mazzone, telling the truth about the defensive whiz in center field who turns a slew of hits into outs for finesse guys such as Glavine. "You also can't forget about Rafael Furcal," Mazzone said, referring to somebody he calls the NL's best defensive shortstop. That's opposed to the Mets' Jose Reyes, who isn't.

That said, we still need all of those ungrateful Braves fans to remember that Cy Glavine was even more significant for the Braves than Cy Maddux. While Maddux was cheered with the Cubs on Tuesday night, when he returned to town for the first time since leaving after the 2003 season, Glavine is jeered every time he breathes as a Met inside Turner.

"You know how I feel about the reception that Tom gets," said Smoltz, trying not to clench his teeth over those who continue to hold Glavine hostage in their hearts for his hardliner's stance during the 1994 players' strike. "As much I'd love to have him back here, I don't see how it could happen."

I can. Somebody at Turner Field just needs to make a phone call.