In my life there have been three sports figures that I have learned to never bet against. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and John Smoltz. So, when Smoltz says he still expects to pitch again, even after Tuesday's season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery, I feel inclined to believe him. But, I think this time I just won't bet either way.
Eventually he will have to retire, and I just don't see it being becuase he is tired of playing. If there were ever going to be an injury that ends his career it would be this one. The other factor that nobody is talking about is the fact that he did not pitch enough innings this season to force the Braves to pick up his $12 million option for 2009.
The only thing that seems to keep Smoltz in the game is his desire to win a championship. So, are the Braves willing to spend the money it would take to bring back Mark Teixeira and sign a quality starter? Both of which will be absolutely necessary if the Braves are to compete in the NL next season. His decision may hinge on how bad the Braves want to win. With Bobby Cox returning for one more season, you can bet the necessary moves will be made.
The surgery seems to have gone well, and doctors did not find anything that would indicate a return is not possible.
"When we decided to have the surgery, there were some things that were unknown that could scare me away from, or lead me away from, making a comeback, and none of those things I've gotten word that they existed when they went in there," Smoltz said during a conference call with reporters. "There was significant damage in the shoulder, but all that's fixed, and all would allow me to pursue coming back."
Like I said, I won't bet against him coming back, but I won't be betting on it either. It's just that if anybody can come back from this type of injury it's Smoltzy, but the injury may not be what causes him to retire. It wouldn't be the first time the Braves let one of their Hall of Famers go.