Publisher: William Morrow (May 8, 2012)
John Smoltz is going into the Hall of Fame with an Atlanta Braves cap. It doesn't matter that his final season consisted of playing horribly with the Boston Red Sox before turning it around with the St. Louis Cardinals. Smoltz was given one more chance to make the postseason. One more chance to get a World Series ring. That didn't happen. Matt Holliday dropped the ball in the outfield and the Los Angeles Dodgers would go on and beat the Cardinals and advance to the 2009 NLCS.
In Starting and Closing, John Smoltz starts out talking about his final season before flashing back to other moments in his life. As Smoltz writes, it's not your typical autobiography that starts out with "I was born in..." Far from it, actually.
Smoltz writes about what it was like to be a member of one of the best pitching rotation cores in history--including Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery. Together, the formed the core of a rotation that would lead the Braves to the top of their division each year. But it was between Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine that it seemed the Braves pitching would rotate the Cy Young Award between 1991-1998.
There are plenty of fun stories about the Braves pitching core, including their golf outings. It was Smoltz's way to relax.
From 1991-2005, the Atlanta Braves would win their division title each year. They would win 5 NL pennants between 1991-1999, only winning 1 World Series in 1995. All John Smoltz wanted to do was win. And win, he did. Sure, he didn't take home more than one World Series ring. And yes, he moved to the Atlanta Braves bullpen if it meant helping his team win.
The numbers speak for themselves but that's not what this book is about. It's about how John Smoltz recovered from another surgery. Also, his love of golf but that's beside the point.
One chapter does focus on how Smoltz became a born-again but aside from that, he never goes all-Tebow on those reading the book.
At it's core, this book focuses on Smoltz wanting to win, never being afraid to fail, and accepting fate with regards to his shoulder. As far as baseball books go, it is a fun read.