This is an article from the Aug. 31, 2009 issue
After a rough stint with the Red Sox—including an eight-run, 3 1/3-inningouting in his final start, at Yankee Stadium—the 42-year-old was designated forassignment and signed by the Cardinals
Dan Patrick: Wherehave you been lately?
John Smoltz: Myhesitancy to call you was because I didn't want you to lose any futurepitching-coach-type opportunities. Because those mechanical tips you gave medid not work. [Laughs.]
DP: Take methrough the time after Boston designated you for assignment.
JS: Absolutelychaotic. I have played long enough to see it happen to other players, but [Ididn't] really understand [what happens] when you get designated, all thedifferent rules. Eleven days of no communication, no nothing. My stuff was allin Boston. I sat at home [in suburban Atlanta] and enjoyed the time with mykids, but I didn't know what was going to happen. I was at the mercy of theprocess. Thirteen days later, I'm headed frantically to the airport.
DP: Did you wantto stay with the Red Sox?
JS: I would havestayed with the Red Sox if it could have worked. I understood. I would havemade some of the same decisions they did. I needed a break. I couldn't keepgoing out there every five days with the results I was putting out.
DP: Did you thinkabout retiring?
JS: I thoughtabout everything sitting in that dugout [at Yankee Stadium] for about three orfour innings, and it was not fun. But, you know what? I am completely contentwhere I'm at. I threw at a high school field for about an hour and then atGeorgia Tech, and I made a little mechanical change that I think is going to bea good one. I said to my wife that when this process ends, if there's not a lotof interest from teams, then we're just going to ride out this year and look to2010.
DP: It was painfulto watch—I've known you a long time. What goes through your mind? I've neverseen you so humbled.
JS: That's a goodword. Embarrassed. Mechanically, I couldn't duplicate pitches. I wasn't faroff, but we're in a result-oriented business. And I stunk. I tried every trickI've used in the past, and nothing worked. When you're sitting in the dugout,all you can do is think about the position you put your team in, and yourfuture. Neither of which looked real good at that point.
DP: Were youangry?
JS: I was moreangry after a Baltimore game. I was pitching a real good game, had the lead,gave it up with two outs and then sat in the corner of the weight roomconvincing myself that I should still keep pitching.
DP: What are theCardinals getting?
JS: They've gotthe patience to allow me to get my reps, get my innings in. I think I can domultiple things, whether it's short-inning relief or filling in the gapswherever.
JS: If I couldtake anything back, it would be how I set the stage, saying, "Give me threeor four starts, and I think I'm fine," which was a dumb thing to say. I'min the middle of the season where everyone is going good, and I'm trying tocatch up.
DP: Do you stillhave your Red Sox jersey? I'd love to have it for the studio.
JS: That would beeasy.
DP: Could I havethe one from the Yankees game?
JS: That one's gota lot of pieces missing. It got cut up. I could sew it together for you.
Not My Job
As quarterback of the Chargers, Philip Rivers runs one of the NFL's most potentattacks. Just don't ask him to decide which plays that offense should run."The ability of a play-caller is a unique talent," Rivers told me."It's hard for me to think and see the whole game plan sheet [on his wrist]while I'm out there playing. [Calling plays] would be tough. I'd just keepcoming back to the same five or eight I always have in my back pocket. I don'tthink I'd like to do it."
Somewhat surprisingly, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he was never reallyworried that Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford might bolt to the NFLearly. "Sam scoffed at the notion that he couldn't get any better [bystaying in school]," Stoops said. "He laughed, saying, 'I'm going toget bigger and stronger.' And he has. The ball comes out quicker. He's got morematurity. Time on the field only makes you better."
Line of theweek
The always outspoken Cris Collinsworth knows he's got the proverbial big shoesto fill when he replaces John Madden in the NBC booth on Sunday Night Footballthis season: "It's a career ender. What kind of moron takes over for JohnMadden anyway?"
Now Hear This
Listen to thepodcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Jason Campbelldiscusses the Skins' off-season QB pursuit.
2. Greg Paulus onswitching from basketball to football.
THE FINE PRINT:The Cowboys still don't have a naming-rights deal for their stadium. So far,the best offer has been for Happy Bar Mitzvah, Harvey Fishman Field.