Is this the end for Glavine?

Thursday’s start against the Chicago Cubs certainly isn’t the note the Tom Glavine would like his career to end on, but he may not have much of a say in the matter. After spending more than two months on the disabled list with an elbow injury, Glavine was placed right back on the shelf after allowing seven runs in just four innings. Effectively shut down for the season, Glavine will chart the course for the rest of his career with an MRI on the elbow on Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala.

If it did come to a close tomorrow, Glavine will have a plenitude of other, much sweeter memories to
look back on from his 22-year career. A five time 20-game winner with
more than 300 career victories and a pair of Cy Young Awards makes for
a pretty impressive resume. Throw in a World Series MVP in 1995 and 10
All-Star game selections and that gives the lefty quite a few places to
hang his hat.

With surgery coming as soon as Thursday, it will be
up to noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews to determine the full extent of
the injuries to Glavine’s left elbow. An MRI back in June revealed a
partially torn flexor tendon. Doctors advised Glavine that he could
undergo a potentially season-ending surgical procedure or attempt to
let the slight tear heal with time and rehab, thus allowing him the
opportunity to pitch this season. Should Andrews find that Glavine
needs Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, the 42-year old
left-hander has already made it known that he would retire instead.

Glavine and the entire Braves organization was hoping for a story-book ending to his brilliant career when they inked him to a one-year $8 million deal prior to the season. The addition of Glavine gave the Braves a formidable starting rotation that could boast a quartet of former 20-game winners. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards. One of the most durable starters for more than two decades, never making a single trip to the DL in 21 seasons, Glavine has been sidelined three times this year alone. Hardly what anyone had in mind.

Breaking in with Atlanta late in the 1987 season, Glavine suffered through some trying years before enjoying the sweet success of the 1990s. Braves fans seemed to forget his five year stint with the Mets from 2003-2007, and welcomed one of the franchise’s true legends back with open arms. It was a true tragedy that Glavine and longtime friend John Smoltz would manage just 18 starts between them this season.

While there is still the possibility that Glavine would pitch next season, he has gone on record as saying that it would only be for the Braves. It remains to be seen if that will be a part of the 2009 strategy, however. You can put Smoltz in that same boat.

If I had to look back over the career of Glavine and pick a highlight that stands out for me, then I’d probably go with his masterful eight inning one-hit performance in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series. For the all the critics that said the Braves vaunted starters couldn’t get it done in the post-season, Glavine’s mastery of one of baseball’s all-time best offenses (the ’95 Indians hit .291 as a team) was sweet redemption. We may never see a trio like Glavine, Smoltz and Greg Maddux ever again.

With both Glavine and Smoltz possibly calling it a career this off-season, it will mark the end of a great chapter in Braves lore. The once pitching-laden Braves are going to have to try to a new formula – or re-load the cast of characters at least. It was a beautiful run though. Pull out a few old baseball cards (or hit up the internet if you aren’t into that whole vintage approach) and take a stroll through the numbers of those three one night. Those were the good old days.

Till next time,


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