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Maybe the most schizo announcer I have ever heard.  One minute he's providing excellent game analysis, and the next he's babbling like he's the second coming of Joe Morgan.  MLB drinking game: Drink when Smoltz says, "in this day and age" and you'll be hammered by the fifth inning.  I thought he was garbage last night, nearly to the point of muting.  

I'm OK with an announcer not being all gung-ho about analytics, but IN THIS DAY AND AGE when every single good team employs analytics, it's not acceptable to have an announcer who doesn't understand analytics.  

The Athletic published this interview yesterday, and he doesn't do himself any favors -- he's barely even coherent in some of these answers and comes across as very thin-skinned:

Quote

John Smoltz may be dealing with unhappy fans more regularly as a broadcaster than he did as a Hall of Fame pitcher.

FOX’s lead baseball analyst and Joe Buck’s co-pilot, Smoltz is viewed by some as an old-guard representative who has not embraced today’s game as much as he should, particularly for someone in a role so prominent. That he is not helping the enjoyment or admiration of the sport.

“I wouldn’t still be in a game that I played for 21 years and loved,” Smoltz said. “If I didn’t love it, then I wouldn’t be involved in it.”

Even if you agree with the criticisms, there are simultaneous discussions to be had about Smoltz and what he represents inside the baseball and broadcasting landscape.

Smoltz does not appear to have wavered on the air, or become less forthright. In broadcasting, criticism can easily lead to change or retreat. A commitment to one’s own sense of direction, then, can be a sought-after quality.

Of course, standing by a position when flat-out wrong is often called something else: foolishness. But realistically, most discussions during a broadcast are not direct matters of right and wrong. Math ends some debates quickly, not all.

In the bigger picture: what is Smoltz’s job? Should broadcasters indeed work to promote the game? What if doing so means holding back honest views of a moment, team or topic?

The game has changed drastically in recent years, because people were willing to challenge norms in the sport. Should those same agents of change and their choices not be subject to challenge? Is there value in the willingness to step to the line?

Here is Smoltz on sign stealing, a topic discussed throughout the postseason the last couple years — including during the American League Championship Series between the Astros and Yankees that he is calling alongside Buck. Smoltz also clarifies how he feels about your alleged presence on his alleged lawn.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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Hall of Fame inductee John Smoltz looks on during the induction ceremony at National Baseball of Hall of Fame on July 26, 2015. (Jennifer Stewart/Arizona Diamondbacks/Getty Images)

It feels like a day can’t go by without some sort of discussion about a team stealing signs. Has the frequency of those complaints changed since you pitched?

There’s more technology and more teams wanting to create an edge for themselves in a variety of ways. And there’s definitely a paranoia of sign stealing, and teams are trying to figure out how they can do it better than the others. On the field, it’s not an issue. When the players are on the field and they’re utilizing their skills to either pick up a pitch from the pitcher, or decode the signs from the catcher and all those different things, that has always been kind of understood as: Hey, you just got to do a better job of hiding that, and do a better job with your own signals and signs from the dugout, or from the batting or third-base coach. But I think the paranoia, from what I understand, reaches beyond that. And that’s when it gets a little difficult to manage how that gets taken care of, as far as how much information guys are processing.

It’s a little harder to play the game faster when you’re processing that much information. Back 15, 25 years ago, the pitcher, if he didn’t like what the sign was, had the ability to wipe below his waist for subtraction, and wipe below his waist for addition. There’s no way the hitter can pick up signs if that’s one way that you wanted to do it. Because there’s just no way, you wouldn’t know what he’s subtracting to or adding to. You’d have to know a lot more.

A lot of the intrigue might be tied to the fact that forms of stealing signs could break the rules, potentially. But what is the actual impact? Some will note that the hitter still has to hit the ball, but maybe that’s too dismissive?

It depends what you’re getting. There have been claims from inside the stadium, from other employees, there’s other ways technology-wise to get that information. That’s where it gets a little bit — well, gets a lot — across the line. I’m speaking as a pitcher. If a pitcher tips his pitches, so be it. Shame on him. You’ve got to have people on your own team that watch you do certain things to tip your pitches. If you tip your pitches, you’re giving the hitter just a huge advantage. Guys are already good enough. And if you’re giving away your signs, or the catcher’s giving away your signs, you’re giving out a huge advantage on the ability to hit.

Yes, you still got to hit the ball. You just don’t want to create an edge or gain an edge where you’re violating the integrity of the game. Again, we’ve had other situations where technology was used to do things. That kind of stuff is hopefully minimized, and I think in the future, if there’s somebody that has a great idea to be able to help navigate the pitcher, catcher and infielders through a game without seeing it — I know we used to chart on TV. You could see the sequence of signs. I’ve heard people say, “Find a way to blur that out on the TV.” But you just have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before to try to make sure that you’re not doing exactly the things that give the team an advantage.

Is there actually a way to eliminate it where paranoia is lessened? The technology’s not going away.

The one thing I always felt like — I just don’t think everyone could do it — imagine if the pitcher had an earpiece in his ear and the catcher could communicate. But I think you just have to do a better job as a team. There’s so many teams coming and going and changing teams that that’s the biggest issue. You’ve got to change your signs so much. And you just have to have a better, creative system. I saw something in college where — I think it was the University of Michigan on their belts — they created a series of numbers and those numbers had the signs on the belts, and they would flip it over and look, and that’s what your sign would be. Now, that’s impossible to decode. Stuff like that, it worked for them. And I heard somebody said, one of the numbers said just “smile,” and then they would smile.

“I’M THE MOST PROGRESSIVE OLD GUY YOU’LL EVER MEET FOR A GUY WHO PLAYED 15 YEARS AGO.”

(Finding) ways to figure out how you’re going to navigate a baseball game without it becoming so cumbersome. You’re seeing pitchers take their hats off and look at the number that they’re supposed to remember under the circumstance of the innings and the outs and what number’s going to be the indicator. You’re seeing multiple signs with nobody on. That should tell you what everyone feels about not giving anyone an advantage.

You’re a member of MLB’s competition committee, right? Are these the kinds of things discussed?

I haven’t been to a meeting in over a year, so I don’t know if I’m still on it or not. There’s going to be conversations on just about everything. But you can’t do something about everything. And sometimes, there are some common-sense answers. But I think baseball’s always been slow to try to even deal with change, because it brings about so much backlash. When people talk about this sport and change, every other sport has gone through change, and I think everyone finds a way to deal with it as time goes by. So baseball’s probably the slowest, or the slower one, to make some changes that ultimately may be coming and ultimately may find a way to just see how to move certain things around to adequately adapt to the times.

Because look, I know today — I’m trying to put myself in today — if I was pitching today, I would probably be overwhelmed with the information. I would want some information, and I definitely would welcome it, but there would be a point where it would be too much for me. And I’d want to simplify it as much as possible.

You mentioned backlash, which you’ve received. But you’re still offering forthright opinions, which could be considered a form of resilience. Do you think you’re polarizing, is that an apt description?

No, I think I’ve been falsely accused or characterized in a couple of articles that just weren’t true. And for that, there’s not a whole lot you can do in this world when things are being put in a tone or mischaracterized, because somebody doesn’t like what you say, or the truth of the matter, factually. And I think that’s been the most frustrating part, is that there are certain segments of people in our game that, when they don’t like certain things, they’ll go out of their way to make those people feel like they shouldn’t say those things. And that can be a small group, that can be the internet, the inter-webs, it doesn’t necessarily have to come from a factual opinion. And I’ve had to sit back and just kind of wear it at times when things just weren’t accurate, the article was not accurate about the portrayal of what I was saying or trying to get out in front of. That’s just the way it is. I’ve had several of those situations in my playing career, that I just have to be who I am and continue to be part of this great game. And in the broadcast booth now, I’ve had an opportunity for the last, I don’t know, closing in on 10 years.

There’s a heavy influence of this game of a one-way type thinking. I hear all the time from so many people who love this game that certain topics are going to be hot topics: “Oh, don’t touch that, don’t say that.” Why? Why can’t you say that? Why can’t you have an opinion on something without it just becoming so polarizing, somebody having to attack you over it? I don’t think anything that I’ve ever done hasn’t been well thought out and hasn’t been with a passion for the game that I love. But to be falsely accused of hating the game is just so flat-out wrong.

I’m the most progressive old guy you’ll ever meet for a guy who played 15 years ago. I’m one that’s willing to see and entertain things that maybe an older-type player would have never entertained, or never would have thought would be part of what baseball can be in the future, or what baseball may or may not change. So that, to me, is laughable. Whether it’s a certain couple organizations… people are too sensitive. People are too sensitive with how hard they worked to get their organization and their team to a certain level. It’s almost become upside down when it comes to: if you don’t think this way, the game has passed you by. If you don’t think the way everyone now supposedly thinks with the information, then you’re somehow against baseball. That just can’t be any further from the truth.

Because when I step in a booth, I have no agenda. I have nothing but to call a game and get out in front of a game, and what my experience’s been. And if I think a game or strategy is one that eventually will backfire and it happens, then why should anybody get criticized for being right? And that’s exactly what has happened, or did happen probably a year ago, when you started hearing the grumblings of wherever those articles came from, with no names to ’em. And then it just gains momentum that’s false. Just absolutely false. That’s why I don’t have any social media. That’s why I just let it kind of roll off my back, if you will.

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Italy coach Sam Perlazzo talks with MLB Network analyst John Smoltz during ahead of the 2013 World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park. (Tom DiPace/WBCI/MLB via Getty Images)

The role of the announcer, is it promoting the game, is it an act of journalism? That’s what the discussion seems to center on, or maybe you disagree with that assessment.

Let me give you a perfect example. Getting out in front of a series and getting out in front of the strategy, if it ends up looking bad for one team, but you end up being right, then why is that a sour taste towards baseball? If you say something like: “With the way this strategy is going early, if it goes seven games, this is going to come back to backfire on this team.” Well, if that team gets mad at you for saying that, and they come after you, why is that a bad thing?

As an analyst, my job is not to sugarcoat everything and make everybody feel like everything’s the greatest. Do I just look the other way when a player doesn’t behave or act, or do anything the right way? Do I just side with the players?

So that role, or that description of my job, is to get out in front and give the fans or the viewers an understanding of what’s going on and why it’s going on. And if it comes down to the way the game is played, then somebody’s going to be right. Somebody’s going to be wrong. It can’t all be right. And I think that over the last few years, when I make a point to how teams win a championship, it’s proven to be factual. It’s not a guess. It’s like saying this: If a game takes four hours and 23 minutes, it takes four hours and 23 minutes. It’s up for debate if somebody wants to feel like that’s too long. But it’s a fact — this game’s taken a long time. That could be taken as, why is he complaining about the game? They’re going to find a way.

My point is, whoever wants to find a way to put a tilt on it, they’re going to. That’s never where I sit. I don’t go into one game and think about what I can do, other than to educate the viewer at home about what is going on on the field. And if I think somebody should bunt, I’m going to say it. Even if it’s not popular or in vogue. And they can argue whether I’m right or wrong. That’s fine. It’s not about kowtowing into the narrative of what somebody else thinks is right. Who decides that? You know what I’m saying? What group of people decide?

You’ve clearly thought about this. It would seem there was a point where you chose to stick to what you’re doing? That there’s a fork in the road when people get loud. 

You’ve got to understand, where is it coming from? And it’s coming from a small pocket of people, and it’s coming from burner accounts. Is that really going to control my thinking? If the bosses that I’m working for decide that that is not the direction, that’s a whole different topic.

This is what’s amazing to me about this world. People intentionally become confrontational to ensure their Twitter account gets action. I don’t have any of that. I could care less about that. I’m never making a comment on my life to stir up conversation so that good, bad or indifferent people are talking about John Smoltz. Not one time in my life. 

I’m one of those guys that loves to compete. I love to see everyone have the same competitive advantage, and I love people who think outside the box and think of ways to create a better avenue for success. That, to me, is 100 percent who I am. But when all of a sudden, and I don’t mean this literally, when certain fragments of the game get taken hostage by terminologies, or by, let’s just say analytics, and it becomes an all-in and you’re either for it or you’re like an enemy, I don’t understand that. And I think people have worked hard to break down the walls and get in this game in a way that they never would have access to. Then, to build the walls back up and act like my experiences mean nothing? I played the game for 21 years, and all of a sudden I’m the get-off-your-lawn guy? I don’t understand that. It’s a part of that false narrative.

There is zero agenda. Like, zero. 

It’s easy to look at someone in your position and say, “he’s set for life, he doesn’t need to do this.” What do you take out of broadcasting? What brought you to it?

But that argument’s always been a flawed argument. That means that if you’ve been successful in your life, you never should entertain doing anything else. I kind of laugh when people say that. I’m hired, so there’s a need, that people want to utilize what I did in this game. And be able to utilize my ability to give experiential situations and knowledge.

I SAID IT WHEN I WAS A PLAYER: I WOULD GIVE UP HALF OF MY CAREER TO GET ANOTHER FOUR MORE YEARS OF POSTSEASON BASEBALL.

I never really thought about what I was going to do when I retired. It’s just kind of happened, and then when it happened, much like anything else I do in life, I decided to see if I could get to the top. And this is the top.

The fact that I get to call a World Series with Joe Buck is about as great of a gig as you could ever ask. It’s the greatest time of the year. I said it when I was a player: I would give up half of my career to get another four more years of postseason baseball. It was that great of a time of year. And so that’s why I’m doing it.

In your time broadcasting, how do you think you’ve grown? Even on the technical side, looking into a camera. What came easy for you and what didn’t?

I still respect the line. I’m no longer on the player side. I respect their game, and their clubhouse, just because I played it for a long time. It’s just not my personality to cross over that line and be one of the guys again. I know early on, some of the critiques of me or the concern would be, “Can you really critique your contemporaries? How are you going to critique somebody?” And I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned in this industry is the game’s still hard. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about it in a way that would make the fan at home (think), “How could you hit .210? How could you strike out 200 times? How could you…” The game is hard.

My critique is going to come with one of experience, to know that ‘A,’ that could happen, but ‘B,’ if it happens again, and ‘C,’ that if it happens a third time, then you have to call that out to say that that can’t happen. Whatever that is. You have to understand time and space. Much like when I was a player, I’m not afraid to fail or make mistakes. I make plenty of them. I just know that, no matter what you say, you’re not going to make everybody happy. So I never go into that with, “let’s see how I can make everybody happy with this comment.” With this role and with this job comes the criticism that people may have one way or another. And that’s fine. 

The way that some of the situations have been handled, it would be like me saying, “I don’t like this player, so I’m going to go out of my way to never compliment this player no matter what he does.” That would be so wrong. And so unjustified. But I think that’s the way it is in this world sometimes, whether it’s with politics, or opinions in the game: if you’re not on my side, you must be the enemy and I’m going to attack you. And I don’t understand that line of thinking. I really don’t.

I’m going to be honest with you, I know a lot of people don’t believe this, you can ask anybody that’s been around me. I don’t read nothing. I hear of grumblings, I hear of people that have come out and tried to attack to me. But short of people just secondhand attacking me, I don’t read it. And I don’t care to read it.

If I question the way that guys are getting hurt and their careers are begin shortened, why is that an indictment on the way that people are choosing to run the business of baseball? Why isn’t it OK that you can actually ask these questions, and be concerned at the same time for the game you love? Instead of it always being under the cheesy, he’s-the-get-off-my-lawn guy? That’s what I don’t understand.

We’ve reached a point in this game where if you’re a player, and you have a differing opinion about something, you’re being ostracized. Instead of, “Well, that’s you’re opinion, and we’re moving forward.”

 

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25 minutes ago, Beau Vine said:

Maybe the most schizo announcer I have ever heard.  One minute he's providing excellent game analysis, and the next he's babbling like he's the second coming of Joe Morgan.  MLB drinking game: Drink when Smoltz says, "in this day and age" and you'll be hammered by the fifth inning.  I thought he was garbage last night, nearly to the point of muting.  

I'm OK with an announcer not being all gung-ho about analytics, but IN THIS DAY AND AGE when every single good team employs analytics, it's not acceptable to have an announcer who doesn't understand analytics.  

The Athletic published this interview yesterday, and he doesn't do himself any favors -- he's barely even coherent in some of these answers and comes across as very thin-skinned:

 

TLDR;  He sucks

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Let's talk about Smoltz for now, 

To the people at home or in the crowd, 

He keeps coming up anyhow, 

Don't be coy, avoid, or make void the topic, 

Cause that ain't gonna stop it.

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1 hour ago, Beau Vine said:

Maybe the most schizo announcer I have ever heard.  One minute he's providing excellent game analysis, and the next he's babbling like he's the second coming of Joe Morgan.  MLB drinking game: Drink when Smoltz says, "in this day and age" and you'll be hammered by the fifth inning.  I thought he was garbage last night, nearly to the point of muting.  

I'm OK with an announcer not being all gung-ho about analytics, but IN THIS DAY AND AGE when every single good team employs analytics, it's not acceptable to have an announcer who doesn't understand analytics.  

The Athletic published this interview yesterday, and he doesn't do himself any favors -- he's barely even coherent in some of these answers and comes across as very thin-skinned:

 

the beau vine of the past few days is a beau vine i can support and rally behind.

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Fox’s coverage is even more ridiculously slanted than I was expecting.  They literally did not mention the astros during the game intro last night.  It’s like watching a game on YES.  They’re not even bothering to pretend to be neutral anymore.

Edited by kevwun

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3 hours ago, kevwun said:

Fox’s coverage is even more ridiculously slanted than I was expecting.  They literally did not mention the astros during the game intro last night.  It’s like watching a game on YES.  They’re not even bothering to pretend to be neutral anymore.

Post-game show was the same.  I kept thinking, "They'll get to the Astros eventually" but then they just signed off.  Ridiculous.

Bring back NBC and Costas (but not McCarver....)

 

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3 hours ago, TexArcher said:

I'm pretty sure John Smoltz is the Yankees' team mom.

And official pillow fluffer

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Guess I’m in the minority. I enjoy Smoltz especially his opinions on what the pitchers are feeling/thinking or about to throw. I agree about feeling like they forget there is another team playing besides the Yankees. Joe Buck Sucks.

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I didn’t have a problem with Smoltz

But then again it’s hard to be mad with winning up in your grill business

Trunks keep poppin

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Joe Buck is horrible, at all announcing. Smoltz needs to be the yankee color man. i both lose their voice asap

 

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I don't see why the network thinks Joe Buck is so essential to every major sport today the the have to fly him from an NFL game to do a World Series game the next day. He's shitty at both. At least spare us from one of the two.

Edited by DougO

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I actually laughed out loud in Game 4 once it became inevitable the Astros were going to win and Joe Buck threw in the towel he went and looked up the last World Series where the road team had won the first four games. He of course belts out that was in 1996 which of course was when Smoltz's Braves choked on applesauce in their repeat bid.  Smoltz then groaned be and bitched about him going there. Joe then asks him if he still has that ring to which Smoltz replies yes that it is locked away with all of his 2nd place rings and that he has lots of 2nd place rings 😂

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as much as I'd love automated strike zone calls; the number one thing I want in all of sports is ambient stadium noise with NO FUCKING ANNOUNCERS.  If they can make an SAP button for Spanish broadcasts and closed-captioning, surely it could be turn key easy as fuck to provide the sights and sounds at a sporting venue without a couple of guys you'd like to shit down their necks blabbering about what they think is important.

 

FWIW, I think Bags is awesome in the booth and Berkman is pretty funny too, but local broadcasts during the season are a different deal.  That's part of the flavor of baseball.  The national guys are the suck, and it's not because I just want to hear about my team the whole night.  Many times during the season, I stream the other team's broadcast exactly because I want to hear the other takes.  Just make it where we can turn the blowhards off, but still hear the game sounds.

Edited by Iceman

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I think I want to bitch about MLB color commentators, but then I think about football color commentators.  Smoltz’ and Buck’s worst homer day doesn’t match having to sit through Booger McFarland, or Brock Huard, or Herb Kirkstreit.  

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I don't know, it's hard for anyone to beat Smoltz claiming that a 7-1 Astros victory in which Cole gave up 3 hits was closer than the score made it seem.  I don't know what the Astros did to Fox, but the entire production team hates the shit out of the Astros.

Edited by kevwun

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26 minutes ago, kevwun said:

I don't know what the Astros did to Fox, but the entire production team hates the shit out of the Astros.

They keep beating the Yankees for one.

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On 10/19/2019 at 3:26 PM, Larry Sellers said:

Guess I’m in the minority. I enjoy Smoltz especially his opinions on what the pitchers are feeling/thinking or about to throw. I agree about feeling like they forget there is another team playing besides the Yankees. Joe Buck Sucks.

I agree to an extent but Smoltz had the luxury of knowing as long as he hit the mitt it was going to be called a fucking strike no matter how out of the strike zone the pitch was because of the Greg Maddux effect.  The Braves staff got a completely different strike zone than the rest of the league back then   

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Except that one time when Livan Hernadez was getting curve balls a foot outside called for strikes against them in the NLCS.  That was the best comeuppance possibly ever.

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Didn't get back home until the top of the 2nd. Listening on the radio was so nice. Those guys have to paint the picture for you, but they use such economy of words. Buck and Smoltz say so many dumb things that are so irrelevant. I experimented with the various settings on my receiver and was able to find a setting that has a lot of crowd noise and reduces the voice track to kind of an undertone; you can hear it there but it's hard to understand. Improved my experience tremendously.

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3 hours ago, Dennis Taylor said:

I agree to an extent but Smoltz had the luxury of knowing as long as he hit the mitt it was going to be called a fucking strike no matter how out of the strike zone the pitch was because of the Greg Maddux effect.  The Braves staff got a completely different strike zone than the rest of the league back then   

and yet they could only parlay that into 1 WS.

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5 minutes ago, HtownHorn said:

and yet they could only parlay that into 1 WS.

and they only got that one because they got to play Cleveland. nobody did less with more than that ole' wifebeater Bobby Cox...

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11 hours ago, Iceman said:

as much as I'd love automated strike zone calls; the number one thing I want in all of sports is ambient stadium noise with NO FUCKING ANNOUNCERS.  If they can make an SAP button for Spanish broadcasts and closed-captioning, surely it could be turn key easy as fuck to provide the sights and sounds at a sporting venue without a couple of guys you'd like to shit down their necks blabbering about what they think is important.

 

FWIW, I think Bags is awesome in the booth and Berkman is pretty funny too, but local broadcasts during the season are a different deal.  That's part of the flavor of baseball.  The national guys are the suck, and it's not because I just want to hear about my team the whole night.  Many times during the season, I stream the other team's broadcast exactly because I want to hear the other takes.  Just make it where we can turn the blowhards off, but still hear the game sounds.

I finally had enough after Game 2 and streamed Ford and Sparks via AtBat through my speakers and muted the TV.  I doubt I’ll ever listen to the national broadcast again.

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Freakin' Smoltz really seems to hate the Astros.

He seems downright giddy due to the Nationals comeback and 3-2 lead in the 7th inning....

DAMN!!!

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6 minutes ago, LTtxfan said:

Freakin' Smoltz really seems to hate the Astros.

He seems downright giddy due to the Nationals comeback and 3-2 lead in the 7th inning....

DAMN!!!

Yep.

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Can't believe anyone was happy with Smoltz and the Fox crew. They openly pulled for the Yankees and even most Yankees fans hated them. How do they still keep having jobs?

The real bullshit though is they have zero new material.  Each game, they repeat the same anecdotes as if there are no repeat viewers that will say "you said the same thing last night." Local broadcasters see the same players every single day, and yet magically don't talk about a players age or height every day. They even still find new anecdotes every day. Even about the opposing teams because they actually give a shit. 

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No, he ran off to spend the rest of his life with Juan Soto on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean.

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On 10/28/2019 at 11:17 PM, DougO said:

I don't see why the network thinks Joe Buck is so essential to every major sport today the the have to fly him from an NFL game to do a World Series game the next day. He's shitty at both. At least spare us from one of the two.

 

he must suck a ton of tv / sport execs cock 

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