Q&A With MLB Network Analyst John Smoltz

These days John Smoltz can be found behind an analyst's desk, instead of peering out from behind his glove while standing on a pitcher's mound.

The great folks at MLB Network were nice enough to connect me with John Smoltz for this Q&A session we conducted over email. John is part of MLB Network's roster of on-air analysts. MLB Network's MLB Tonight will live air before & after every Postseason game featuring highlights, analysis, interviews and press conferences.

These questions were asked about a week ago, when most of us thought the Braves chances of making the postseason were pretty good. Still, with the help of my fellow bloggers here at Talking Chop we tried to come up with questions to ask Smoltz that were not the ordinary boiler plate interview questions. Here are our questions to John and his answers.

Talking Chop: The Braves, Red Sox, Cardinals, you've played for all three teams, which one are you rooting for to make the playoffs this season? (And you have to choose just one.)

John Smoltz: It's a pretty easy choice, definitely the Atlanta Braves.

TC: As a Michigan native, in the event of a Braves vs. Tigers World Series, where would your allegiance lie?

JS: My allegiance would lie with the Atlanta Braves. As much as I love my roots and where I grew up, I played my whole career with Atlanta.

TC: As a former closer, what is your opinion of the "save" statistic and modern closer usage? Do you think that ace relievers like Craig Kimbrel should be used more often when tied or behind and less often with a 3+ run lead? Similarly, do you think managers should be more willing to use top relievers for multiple innings?

JS: I think the emergence of the save statistic and the way baseball is played, managers are put in a position to be second-guessed. It sometimes does make sense to use your closer before the ninth inning, but it's going to take a manager that is gutsy enough to do that because the pitcher would suffer statistically, and you would view that pitcher differently. It's almost set in stone and the way things are set up, it's going to be very difficult for managers to get away from how they use their closers.

TC: From what you've seen out of Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, what do you like and what could be improved?

JS: The composure of Delgado, Teheran and Vizcaino is pretty darn good, plus their stuff is really good. Anyone who has been thrust into the position they are, while not really having a grasp of what the Postseason races are all about, it shows that their futures are very bright.

TC: What's harder, being a Major League starting pitcher, a Major League closer, or a Pro Golfer?

The interview continues after the jump...

JS: Pro golfer by far. In baseball, they don't count the foul balls, but in golf they definitely do.

TC: Now that the season is almost over, how does this year's Phillies rotation of Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, and Lee stack up against the great Braves rotations of the 90's?

JS: On a one-year basis, they certainly were better, and the beauty of baseball is they have the chance to stay together for a few years. We liked our run, but it's been very impressive what they've done, and if they stay together, they'll rival anybody's staff.

TC: Who would get your vote for the NL Cy Young award this year?

JS: Clayton Kershaw. He's dominated every category that you can dominate. I think he's had the perfect year.

TC: What has been the hardest part of going from playing the game to commenting on the game as an analyst on MLB?

JS: When I was pitching, I was concentrating on one lineup, but when I'm calling a game I have to concentrate on two lineups. There is a lot more homework involved when calling a game. You have to be ready to know about that young kid that just came up from the Minor Leagues.

TC: As a former player do you hold back in your opinions of current players because of any "unwritten codes" or for fear that you'll be shut out of Major League clubhouses?

JS: No, the key for me is I don't call a game looking to make a name for myself or trying to draw attention to myself. My critical remarks will be more of positive criticism because I don't want to make comments that seem like I think this game is easy because it's definitely not. I don't like to make points during a broadcast just to be noticed.

TC: How do you feel when a former teammate or coach talks about what happens in the clubhouse, stuff that should not be public knowledge? Specifically, and you knew this was coming, the voluntary allegations that Leo Mazzone made about you on SiriusXM radio regarding your use of pine tar to doctor baseballs during the game?

JS: When someone is trying to be funny, you can just leave it at that.

MLBN note: John Smoltz addressed Leo Mazzone's comments during MLB Network's MLB Tonight on Wednesday, September 21.

TC: You played during what is commonly referred to as the steroid era. The most home runs you allowed to any batter was nine to Barry Bonds, who is considered the poster child for performance enhancing drugs. Is he a Hall of Famer despite the alleged use of PEDs?

JS: It all boils down to the voters and what they feel strongly about. They certainly have made their point, but time will tell if things change. I've always said that Barry Bonds was the best player in the game before these accusations against him. He hasn't been totally convicted so we'll see wait and see what the voters decide.

TC: Your previous opinion of how postseason home field advantage is determined was not an approving one, do you still feel that using the All-Star game to determine home field advantage in the World Series is a bad idea? Is that opinion, or any opinion you have, muted because you work for "MLB" Network?

JS: I haven't been a fan of the All-Star Game determining World Series home field advantage. It doesn't make much sense to take the best All-Star Game of any sport and try to spice it up.

TC: Tom Glavine has a position within the Braves organization, as well as serving as an announcer. Would you consider a position in the Braves organization if one was offered? Do you have any desire to be a pitching coach or a manager?

JS: There are a lot of things I haven't done so I'm not closing any doors. I didn't think I'd be a broadcaster, but here I am.

Many thanks to John Smoltz for his candid answers to our questions. Also thanks to the folks at MLB Network Media Relations for arranging this Q&A.

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