In the end it was all a game. It was simply a ploy by Tom Glavine and his agent, Gregg Clifton, to get the Mets to pony up for a second year. Many Braves fans were fooled into thinking that Glavine wanted to return to Atlanta for number 300. We were fooled into thinking that he wanted to be closer to his family; that he wanted to be in Bobby Cox's club house once again; that he wanted to be a teammate of John Smoltz one more time. We forgot that Glavine is all about the coin.
Three years ago when Glavine left the Braves the first time for the Mets, it was over nothing more than a difference of $1 million more per year and a mutual option that neither side exercised. We were fools to think that Glavine would decline his part of the option, which would have paid him another $10 million, to come to Atlanta where everyone, everyone knew the Braves couldn't afford to pay him that much. They couldn't afford it because the Braves salary structure has been chopped off each of the last three years, and because we couldn't in our right mind pay Glavine more than our loyal ace John Smoltz.
Through this whole process there was never really any intent on the part of Glavine to return to Atlanta. He knew the Braves would never pay what the Mets would, and he knew that they would never give him the second year. Forget about all the talk of a no-trade clause; that was just the convenient excuse Glavine and his agent used to fall back into New York. And in the end it worked. Glavine got the two things he wanted; more money this year, and a very achievable vesting second year that pays him more money than he would ever have gotten in Atlanta.
Count me as one of those who thought there was a part of Tom that wanted to return. Count me as someone who sees the benefits of being closer to family and back with the franchise which raised you - things worth taking a cut in pay. Through all of this we must also give credit to John Schuerholz. By his inaction in trading away his current pieces to make a hole for Glavine, by his inaction in offering Glavine a contract, he knew what this gambit was all about. And he remembers the $1 extra million per year that was all it took for Glavine to leave behind all that he had built in Atlanta three years ago. Even though he says publicly that he "tried" to move payroll to bring Glavine back to Atlanta, he smelled a rat before the rest of us.
So probably sometime in either July or August, Tom Glavine will take the mound and win his 300th game. There will be a big celebration in New York, but it won't be because they think Glavine is one of their guys, it will be because they got to see Glavine win number 300 in a Mets uniform instead of a Braves uniform - and all it took was money. In a sense, the Mets have just bought themselves a Kodak moment made all the sweeter for them because they stole it away from their biggest division rival. And if fate has a sense of irony then that 300th victory will come in the second week of August when the Braves are in New York for three games. Mark it on your calendars now.