The Death-Defying Atlanta Braves

First, our new bench coach had his SUV flip on the way to the park. Thankfully, he came away with just bruises. Then, Orr nearly offed Kelly with a line drive to his throat. And today, Smoltzie took a line drive to the chest while he was on the mound. He’s okay, very luckily. A major injury to Smoltz in spring training is just . . . really unthinkable.

What do all these close calls mean? Hopefully things like this come in threes and we’ve seen the last of them. I’m glad I wasn’t able to listen to the first half of the game today; I can only imagine how scary it was to see Smoltz take a liner to the chest. Yikes.

My two favorite managers, together at last! If they coached a team together, they would be unstoppable. Dave O’Brien, who worked for the Marlins while Leyland managed there, got some pretty good quotes from him in his blog:

“I can tell you this. Hands down, take it to the bank, John Smoltz is the best postseason pitcher I’ve ever seen — by far. Such a competitor. I don’t know him very well, but I’ve always had the utmost respect for what he’s accomplished. But he’s the best I’ve ever seen in the postseason.”

Then I said Smoltz wasn’t bad in the regular season, either.

And Leyland said, “Slam dunk Hall of Famer. He’s a special guy. One of those freaks who….” He stopped to re-phrase. “There are certain players and pitchers who, when they come on the field, people — fans, other players — stare at them a little longer and say, ‘What is it about this guy?’ There’s something special, an air about them.

“Even as an opponent, I enjoyed competing against John Smoltz. That’s what this business is all about.”

Then Leyland turned to go do his group press conference with Detroit writers. But he stopped and said again, “But without question, best postseason pitcher I’ve ever seen.”

Repeating himself for emphasis is classic Leyland. There’s a great anecdote in Dave Rosenbaum’s The Year the Marlins Bought the World Series (one of my all-time favorite books for the Leyland quotes alone) about Leyland saying over and over again, in astonishment: “It only took Elton John an hour to write Candle in the Wind.”

Oh, and apparently Moylan doesn’t want to be friends with Dave O’Brien, either. He’s not having much luck with the relief pitchers.



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