From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Questions for John Smoltz

Q: Any ideas on how to improve baseball?

A: I’ve always been a big believer in shortening the season and having more play-off games. Play-off baseball’s about as good as it gets. But I would split the season in half: I’d have a first-half winner and a second-half winner, and the wild card would be the team with the next best record. It would stop these mass tradings and unloadings of salaries. So, if you had a bad first half, you’re still in it for the second. These small-market teams can win a first or second half, but they just can’t compete over [the course of] 162 games.

Q: Why don’t you coach?

A: If my kids were away at college, that’s something I could think about. But if I had to fight the [strategies] that exist today from the top down, I don’t think I would do very well. I don’t think pitching is getting better when they’re putting five or six pitchers in a game and telling starters that five or six innings is a good job.

Q: Is it important to not just play baseball if you want to be an elite player?

A: Absolutely. I think our kids are missing out on so much. They’re becoming all-consuming, one-sport players. If you play only one sport all year, it’s going to wear you out. Kids today don’t get outside enough: Technology is rotting away opportunities.


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