April 30, 2009
Tom Glavine is currently facing a decision: Continue his brilliant 22-year career or hang up his spikes after accumulating 305 victories, 2,607 strikeouts, 10 All-Star appearances, two Cy Young Awards and a World Series ring.
Glavine wants retirement on his terms, so he continues to rehab a sore shoulder rather than quit. But Glavine has made tough decisions before, like when the NHL's Los Angeles Kings drafted the hockey-infatuated New England kid back in 1984. What if Glavine's athletic career had been played on ice and not grass? During spring training, the left-hander sat down with Answer Man and talked about what might have been and, hey, what still could be.
Dave Brown: How many career goals would you have if another path had been chosen 25 years ago? I need a number here.
Tom Glavine: Oh! Well, let's see. (Luc) Robitaille has scored 500, and I was drafted ahead of him, so clearly I would be better than him. I'm saying 500 or so, yeah.
DB: What would fighting Tie Domi or Tony Twist have been like?
TG: It wouldn't have happened [laughs]. I would have steered clear of those guys. If something like that happened, there's a good chance I'd get hurt, but I'd do my best to survive it.
TG: The baseball fights, you don't ever see the squaring off like you do in hockey and, in some instances, that's where baseball fights can be potentially more dangerous because you've got guys running all over the place and people throwing punches at you that you don't even see half the time. At least, in a hockey fight, barring the occasional brawl, there's actually some etiquette that goes into it. Honor, too, absolutely. Most of those guys that do it, that's their job, and they follow a certain code of conduct in doing it.
DB: If fighting in baseball were as encouraged as it is in hockey, what would have happened with Kent Hrbek after he did that to Ron Gant at first base in the '91 Series?
TG: Oh. man. Back then, we probably would have sent Ronnie after him. Sid Bream was a big guy, but I don't know what kind of fighter, or how aggressive, he was. He was kind of peaceful. Maybe Juan Berenguer — I think he might have been on our team that year.
DB: Can you outlast Chris Chelios?
TG: Oh my God, I don't think so. I'm not sure I want to play this game until I'm 47 or 48 years old. I don't know how he's still playing that game. There's always a freak of nature in every sport.
DB: Do you like that Moyer and Johnson are still pitching because it gives you some cover for being the oldest player in the majors?
TG: Yeah, it does! I mean, it's nice that those guys are still out there. And hey, by all accounts, they're both doing well. Jamie seems to be getting better with age. And Randy is knocking on 300th's door — and I know what that feeling is like, trying to keep things together to try and get there. It's great for both of them and it's good for the game. Believe me, if the young pitchers in this game aren't standing up and taking notice of those two guys still pitching at their age, then they need to start paying attention.
DB: Should you have petitioned the NHL to play for the Blackhawks or Red Wings at the Wrigley Field game?
TG: [Laughs]. You know, that's a good idea. If you're going to play at a baseball field, then you ought to have a guest appearance for a baseball player at that game. But there's no checking for that guy. He can't be hit. So if I'm going to play, there's no contact. That may not go over so well.
DB: Did you watch?
TG: I loved watching it. I loved hockey to begin with, and for so many of us who grew up playing hockey, we've all experienced that occasional outdoor game along the way — which is fine as long as it's not freezing cold. And in a historic ballpark like that? It's great. I know there's rumors they're going to do it at Fenway next year so, believe me, I'll have my eye on trying to get a ticket to that one. Green Monster seats.
DB: Did they not put the rink over the pitcher's mound out of respect for your 300th career win, which came at Wrigley?
TG: It had to be; I'm sure that played into it, but I'm sure it was easier to not disassemble the mound and just do it out in center field where it was less work.
DB: If you switch to righty right now, can you make a run at Cy Young's 511 wins?
TG: [Laughs]. No, I don't think I'd increase my win total by one if I did that.
DB: When's the last time anyone's heard from Charlie Leibrandt?
TG: As a matter of fact, I see him all the time. He lives right down the street with me. I play golf with him all the time.
DB: After three or four beers, is it easier to get Rafael and Ronnie Belliard mixed up?
TG: I don't think so; they're two pretty different body types.
DB: There's this old story about John Smoltz that he has angrily denied time and again about burning himself because he was wearing the shirt he happened to be ironing at the time? Did you start this rumor?
TG: There's some truth to it but I believe it wasn't an iron — it was one of those things that's used to steam your clothes. And he was in a hurry, so he just did while he was wearing it, and it spit water on him. He wasn't actually using an iron. The "iron story" is way better.
DB: How much guilt did you feel over the '94 season being canceled even though many believe it was the owners' fault?
TG: Any time you have to cancel the season, particularly the playoffs, there's not much to feel good about. I think we believed in what we were doing as players, but the end result is always a tough pill for everyone to swallow. Put it this way: it definitely had an impact on future negotiations.
DB: Have you ever seen Don Fehr smile?
TG: I have, as a matter of fact.
DB: [Not believing him]. When?
TG: Behind closed doors [laughs]. I'm not sure what caused it, but I can attest to it.
DB: What do you think of the Matt Cassel trade?
TG: I'm surprised they didn't get more for him. They got a second-round pick.
DB: Are you sure Brady's going to be OK?
TG: He better be!
DB: I've seen where you're the only pitcher to throw two shutouts at Coors — were those pre-humidor?
TG: Pre-humidor and probably both in my top-five of games that I've ever pitched. Pitching shutouts there is pretty tough.
DB: Would you say that the no-hitter Hideo Nomo threw there has got to be ...
TG: Unbelievable. Unbelievable.
DB: You mentioned in another interview that you don't know what to do with all the trophies people have given you and that you've earned over the years — what about a "Dig Me" room like Greg Maddux said he has?
TG: I guess we all have that "Dig Me" space, where we have some of our things displayed. Mine's a little bit more off the beaten path. You're not going to see it as soon as you walk into my house, but it does exist.
DB: Did you ever tell Bobby Cox, "Go back and sit down in the dugout, I'm fine"?
TG: I've told him, "I'm fine," but never "Go back and sit down in the dugout." I don't know what would have happened, but I know I don't want to find out. It's pretty tough to get on his bad side, but I don't want to risk it.
* * *
DB: Word association.
• Marvin Freeman — TG: Loud.
• Mark Lemke — TG: Intense.
• John Rocker — TG: What's the word I'd use for John? Golly, I can't think of the world... Tightly wired.
DB: Two words are OK for him.
• Otis Nixon — TG: Caring.
• Larry Wayne Chipper Jones — TG: Larry Wayne Chipper Jones. Talented.
• Julio Franco — TG: Remarkable.
• Tom Glavine — TG: Stubborn.
* * *
DB: Sweet Child O' Mine: Best guitar intro in the history of music?
TG: I'm partial to it. I like it.
DB: It doesn't have to be sung, but how do the words go?
TG: I don't know! They only play it every time I go out to pitch. ... Let's see. ... I think it goes, "She's got eyes as the bluest skies..."
DB: That's a later verse.
TG: Are you sure? Oh, I know! ... "Dah-dah-dah, it seems to me ... reminds me of childhood memories ..." I don't know what that first part is, though.
DB: Quoting Axl Rose: Where do we go now?
TG: Where do we go? I don't know. We go out for one more year and try to have a better year than last year.
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