2011 NEWS

2011 NEWS > 3/31/11


Philadelphia Inquirer

As the Atlanta Braves went on their remarkable run of 14 straight division titles from 1991 to 2005, three names stood out as the cornerstone of that era: Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine.

So as the Phillies prepare to take the field in 2011, Glavine recalled what it was like to pitch in a rotation of superstars, and he concedes it was not pleasant at times.

"It gets aggravating. It gets to be a pain in the neck sometimes," Glavine said. "As a player you just want to go out there and play. But the expectations from their [fans] are going to be a lot. I know there were times in Atlanta if one of us gave up two or three runs, people were wondering what was wrong. So it is hard to live up to expectations."

Glavine, Smoltz, and Maddux formed the most dominant pitching rotation baseball had seen since the Baltimore Orioles staff of the late 1960s and early 1970s. All three are likely to wind up in the Hall of Fame, as they have combined for seven Cy Young Awards.

Maddux had professorial looks that belied a fierce competitor who earned the nickname "Mad Dog." Smoltz, who, at the age of 7 told his parents that he was going to be a major-league pitcher, went on to win 213 games and develop into one of the game's dominant closers from 2002 to 2004.

Glavine had to decide between pro hockey and baseball when he was drafted in both sports after lettering in both in high school. He seems to have made the right choice, since his career accomplishments include 305 wins, two Cy Young Awards, and 10 All-Star Game appearances.

What Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee will have to get used to, Glavine said, are the constant comparisons to those great staffs in Baltimore and Atlanta. They may also be measured against the dynamic duos of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers of the 1960s and Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks of 10 years ago.

"We went through [those comparisons] as well," Glavine said."They will be stacked up [against] as [to] where these guys [compare] with the greatest 1-2 combinations and the greatest 1-2-3 combinations," Glavine said.

Still, after citing the distractions that the Phillies pitchers will have to put up with at times, Glavine said they should be fine once they go out and concentrate on their work.

"At the end of the day, if they go out there and pitch the way they are capable of, everything will work out, and they can figure out the historic stuff at the end of the year," he said.