2006 NEWS

2006 News > 12/1/06

GLAVINE REACHES A FULL COUNT

By Murray Chass, NY Times
Original Article HERE.

Tom Glavine is on the verge of making his decision. “He’s going to make a decision, I would think, by tomorrow,” Gregg Clifton, Glavine’s agent, said yesterday, meaning that today is the day that Glavine should decide if he wants to remain with the Mets for a fifth season or go home to Atlanta, where his 290-victory career began two decades ago.

I am not in the habit of telling players what they should do. Where they play, how much they sign for is their prerogative; it’s their career. But I am going to depart from that practice and tell Glavine he should stay with the Mets.

Two reasons prompt me to offer that unsolicited advice, professional and personal; professional for Glavine, personal for me.

Circumstances can change by the start of next season. But as the Mets and the Braves are presently constituted — and that’s all Glavine can go on — he would probably have an easier time winning 10 games and reaching 300 career victories in New York than he would in Atlanta.

Given that he compiled a 33-41 record in his first three years with the mediocre Mets while the Braves were still good enough to win division championships, Glavine made a mistake leaving the Braves. He would probably already have 300 victories had he stayed in Atlanta. But he should not compound that mistake with another.

The personal reason? I like Tom Glavine and would like to have him around for the rest of his career. Glavine is one of the classiest players I have met and covered in the nearly half century that I have been writing about baseball. I have known him for more than a dozen years and value the time I have spent talking to him.

The Mets, however, need Glavine more than I do. Not that they can’t replace a 41-year-old pitcher, but right now he’s the only established starter they can count on for the start of next season. They think a lot of him, too, as an individual.

Newspaper and Internet articles this week have suggested that Glavine has already made his decision and that he wants to play for the Braves. But he has not informed the Mets of such a decision. And Omar Minaya, the Mets’ general manager, said he didn’t believe Glavine would keep information from the team he nearly went to the World Series with last season.

“Tommy Glavine isn’t the type of guy who plays those games,” Minaya said yesterday. “The Tommy Glavine I know wouldn’t do that.”

According to Clifton, Glavine hasn’t made up his mind. “It’s absolutely untrue,” Clifton said in a telephone interview, adding, “The Mets have been incredibly supportive and understanding of his decision-making process.

“I give Omar and the Wilpons credit for the way they’ve handled this,” he said in reference to Fred Wilpon, the Mets’ principal owner, and Jeff Wilpon, the team’s chief operating officer.

Clifton said he had had two or three conversations with John Schuerholz, the Braves’ general manager. “Our talks have been cordial,” Clifton said, adding that contrary to some reports, the Braves have not made Glavine an offer.

“John has said he’s not in a position to make an offer,” Clifton said.

Glavine, of course, would have a problem if he decided he wanted to return to the Braves and they were unable or unwilling to offer him a fair contract. Schuerholz has not acknowledged that he is interested in getting Glavine back, only that he is looking to upgrade the Braves’ pitching. And it’s possible that if Glavine wanted to play for them and the Braves wanted him back, they would first have to make a trade to clear payroll.

If Glavine lived in, say, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and not Atlanta, his decision would be easy: stay with the Mets. But it’s the chance to be home for half the season that makes for a difficult choice.

Glavine’s family situation compounds his professional problem. He and his wife, Christine, each have a child from a previous marriage, for whom they have shared custody, and they have two children from their marriage. Amber, 11, is Tom’s daughter; Jonathan, 12, is Christine’s son; and Peyton, 7, and Mason, 6, are their sons.

Juggling the four children was difficult enough when Glavine was working in Atlanta. Playing in New York created more intricate planning and execution.

Yet when Glavine was talking last month about the uncertainty of his plans, he related an interesting story.

“When we talk about Dad not playing baseball anymore,” he said, “the first thing they ask is are we going to sell our house in Connecticut, and when I say yes, they get mad at me because they loved it.”

Then he added: “I know they still love it up here and enjoy it. But sometimes they struggle with me not being here.”

Glavine also talked about the fact that his children were older than they were when he first played for the Mets in 2003, and that their after-school and summer activities, like Little League baseball, are curtailed by their trips to New York.

The longer Glavine takes making his decision the more likely, some people think, he will come down on the side of staying home. Others think the opposite, feeling that the longer he takes, the more he realizes how much he has enjoyed playing in New York and how well he has been treated by the Mets.

Glavine even appreciates how the Mets haven’t pressured him into making a decision sooner than he wanted. The Mets have talked to Clifton, but they haven’t talked with Glavine or made him an offer in an attempt to lure him with money.

At the same time, Glavine doesn’t want to delay his decision indefinitely and make it difficult for the Mets to go forward with their off-season pitching plans. That’s why his decision is imminent, if not today, by the end of the weekend, before the winter meetings start, as he promised.