Smoltz v. Bradley

Mark Bradley, AJC

Mark Bradley, AJC

Most of us had no idea that one of Atlanta’s most thoughtful and prolific AJC sports columnists wasn’t on speaking terms with one of Atlanta’s most dynamic athletes.  Yet it seems that for most of his career as an Atlanta Brave, John Smoltz refused to speak with Mark Bradley (and Bradley reciprocated).  Why?  Because Bradley wrote a column critical of him in 1997.  From Bradley’s AJC blog:

I… simply stopped going near him. And you know who found it all hilarious? [Tom] Glavine, who dubbed me, “Smoltzie’s favorite journalist.” (Have I mentioned that Glavine is my all-time favorite Brave?)

Never mind that I’d written 10 gushing Smoltz columns over the previous decade. Those were eradicated by my one egregious sin. Since he didn’t want to talk with me, I mostly stopped writing about him. When he did something great, I’d say he did something great — fair’s fair — but I kept my distance.

We wouldn’t even say hello when we passed in the hall.

image_8584522-300x182The post is an eye-opening look into the world of sportswriting, which isn’t nearly as cushy a gig as it seems.  The relationships are complicated.  Sports isn’t rocket science.  Yet the athletes are often rock-stars with high school educations, covered by journalists who have to maintain balance in order to keep their jobs.

Frequently, TV stations will sic their news staffs on athletes when athletes find themselves unfavorably in the news. This allows the sports folk to play “good cop” and preserve their relationships with athletes while the news guy swoops in to play “bad cop.”

Bradley’s column also sheds light on the personality of Smoltz, a revered athlete who has an irrationally prickly side.   It takes a special breed to hold a twelve-year grudge against a guy who, ultimately, feeds into the hero-worship of professional athletes.  Smoltz disingenuously griped that the Braves forced him to sign with Boston.  In fact, the Braves offered Smoltz a contract contingent on his ability to actually pitch in a baseball game with his surgically-repaired shoulder.  Smoltz will make his first start for the Red Sox tonight.

Not that John Smoltz is a bad guy.  He’s been a great pitcher.  But it sounds like Bradley knew Smoltz much better than the city that still wants to worship him.

Update: Smoltz had a rough debut, losing to the Nationals.  He got hit hardest in the first inning, but struck out the final three batters he faced.  Here’s his line:

============IP     H     R     ER     BB     K     HR    HBP    SEASON ERA
Smoltz(L, 0-1)     5.0     7       5     5          1        5       0       1          9.00

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

5 thoughts on “Smoltz v. Bradley

  1. Rusty

    The closest thing I have to any insight about John Smoltz is a little more than 15 years ago, when I was in middle school, I asked for a water bed and got one. I watched two guys come over and install it, and they apparently had installed a waterbed at Smoltz’s house not long before that. They said he was an asshole.

    Pointless second-hand heresay, obviously, but isn’t that what blogs are for?

  2. JasonC

    Bradley’s comments also share a little about his personality- pompous and always willing to stir up something (even when it’s not there). I’m not saying Smoltz wasn’t wrong, but I think Bradley can share the blame. As he mentioned about saying ‘hello’, it’s a two-way street to reconciliation.

    As far as the Braves offering him a deal, sometimes it is how it is offered or how much is offered, not just the offering itself. After battling for the Braves, probably harder or as hard as any other player in Atlanta, I think Smoltz felt he deserved better treatment from the Braves management. He was the one that stuck around after Maddux and Glavine left (or were also forced out because of money).

    Like a lot of the AJC Sports staff and especially like one of its recently departed members, I don’t really put a lot of stock into what the write.

    1. live apt fire Post author

      @JasonC: I don’t know that I’d describe Bradley as “pompous.” But I would say that any sports columnist who doesn’t have a bit of swagger probably won’t be worth reading. Same thing about stirring up stuff. It’s his job.

      1. JasonC

        I agree that all journalist should ask tough questions and hit some sore areas, but I think Bradley reaches for straws too many times and gets waaaaaaay out on a limb sometimes to stir up stuff.

  3. Mr. Bear

    Baseball’s such a quirky game to begin with that this sort of stuff cannot surprise. At the same time, you have to wonder how they gained the right to be this way. At this point, Mr. Smoltz is wondering if it is time to become a CLU. Mr. Bradley, on the other hand, is wondering when he is going to be replaced by somebody fresh in from Biloxi making half what he does. And we haven’t even started talking about the steroid business. It takes two to tango…

    I’m much happier watching the Rome Braves on TV; everything’s more real there. The players know that they might get to the big leagues, but are still close enough to remember Little League and the love of the game. So are the media people, who know that it’s the advertisers that really matter in this game.

    Besides, you can go to Chattanooga for a Lookouts game and get a haircut while you watch. In Atlanta, the haircut happens when you buy a ticket.


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