Braves Set Race Aside To Cheer Glavine

By Mark Bowman
Original article HERE.

NEW YORK -- As they watched Tom Glavine inch closer toward his 300th career win Sunday night, Braves manager Bobby Cox and John Smoltz temporarily forgot about the pennant race and allowed themselves to enjoy a special moment with a man they know as well as anybody in baseball.

"It was odd, but it was gratifying," said Smoltz, who remains one of Glavine's closest friends. "I know we're trying to catch the Mets, and there's nothing that I want to do more than catch them. But ... knowing personally what Tommy has gone through and seeing his family follow him around, I'm just glad for him that it's over."

As Cox sat down to watch Sunday night's game between the Mets and Cubs, he was hoping Glavine's historical achievement would come courtesy of a lopsided victory. Late-inning suspense would have forced him to temporarily delay his sentiments for his favorite southpaw and root for the opportunity for his Braves to move a little closer to the Mets in the National League East standings.

"It was like you're pulling for him, but yet you're not," said Cox, who says he watched every pitch of the Mets' 8-3 victory over the Cubs. "I wanted to see him get it and get it over with."

Now with history achieved and the Braves starting a three-game series against the front-running Mets, who they trailed by 4 1/2 games entering Tuesday, Cox says there will be "no more pulling" for Glavine, who notched the first 242 wins of his career while playing in Atlanta from 1987-2002.

But Cox says he's sent Glavine a gift and even called him during the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday's game. The long-time skipper wasn't the only member of the Braves who defied a possible jinx by calling their long-time teammate before the final out was recorded.

Among the others were Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur and Smoltz, who said he actually composed his congratulatory text message in the seventh inning and then hit the send button when the Mets claimed a four-run eighth-inning lead.

"I certainly didn't want to have a situation where [Glavine would have said], 'Way to go Smoltzie,'" Smoltz said. "I know you're not supposed to do that, but what the heck. I'm not going to get in if I don't send it early."

Like Cox and Smoltz, Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez, who played with Glavine in Atlanta from 1995-2001, watched the entirety of Sunday's game with some mixed emotions.

"I was pulling for him the whole game, and then after the game watching him hug all the players was weird," Perez said. "I mean, [the Mets] are his teammates now. But it wasn't fun watching him celebrate without Smoltz or Maddux or Javy [Lopez]. Nobody from the Braves was there."

During this past offseason, Glavine waited patiently for the Braves to provide the opportunity to chase his 300th career win back in Atlanta. When a contract offer was never provided, he returned to the Mets, who have employed him since the beginning of the 2003 season.

"Things happen for a reason," Glavine said. "I spent a good chunk of my career in Atlanta and won a bunch of games there. [I] played for one of the greatest managers of all time over there; played with a lot of great teams and great players over there who were a huge part of me achieving what I've been able to achieve. But it wasn't meant for me to be there, and that's why I'm here in New York."