He received the words in a state of disbelief, coming with the same force as his once-potent fastball. Tom Glavine, a 10-time All-Star selection and twice the National League’s Cy Young Award winner, was given the option to retire or to be released.
Thoughts of anger and disgust clouded the mind of the 43-year-old lefty. Glavine, the ultimate competitor, chose to be released and try to finish his career elsewhere.
“It was a performance decision,” General Manager Frank Wren told reporters. He, along with the rest of the Braves’ front office, believed Glavine had never fully recovered from elbow and shoulder surgeries.
Glavine argued, citing his most recent rehab outing in Class A Rome where he had pitched six scoreless innings. Wren countered by saying that the left-hander’s pitches would not succeed against major league hitters.
Glavine’s departure from Atlanta marks the end to the “Golden Age of Braves Baseball.” Only third baseman Chipper Jones and manager Bobby Cox remain from the teams of the 1990s, including the 1995 World Series Championship club. Furthermore, it completes the departure of the nucleus of those teams, a pitching staff led by current Red Sox pitcher John Smoltz, future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, and Glavine.
From 1991 to ’98, the trio combined for six Cy Young Awards, silencing hitters throughout Major League Baseball. Glavine was not considered the greatest of the group, but his consistency was unmatched. The left-hander won 20 games in three consecutive seasons (1991-93), an achievement that no other major league pitcher has equaled since then.
In addition, Glavine earned World Series MVP honors in 1995. He led the Braves to wins in Game 2 and the Series-clinching Game 6, in which he threw eight shutout innings, allowing just one hit.
After the 2002 season, Atlanta chose not to match the contract offer Glavine received from the New York Mets. He had struggled in the latter half of the ’02 season, including poor post-season outings versus San Francisco.
By signing with New York, the veteran gave himself multiple opportunities each year to beat the Braves (though he went just 4-11 against his former team). Glavine pitched in the “Big Apple” for five seasons and struggling at first. But he rebounded to earn two All-Star selections (2004, ’06) and to won his 300th game last season.
After last season, Glavine signed with the Braves in hopes of finishing his career where it had started back in 1987. But constant injuries led to the disabled list. Just weeks later, he’s on the free agent market.
Glavine is once again angry at his former team. A relationship that began with loyalty and success had disintegrated. Was this anyway for the Atlanta Braves to treat one of their all-time greats?