During Leo Mazzone’s tenure as Atlanta Braves pitching coach, he schooled terrific Braves pitchers John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Mazzone was the team’s pitching coach from 1990-2005. During that time period, Maddux won three NL Cy Young awards, Glavine won two and Smoltz won his lone award. Also during that span, the Braves 3.60 staff ERA was the best in the majors.
However in an interview with SiriusXM on Wednesday, Mazzone said Smoltz used pine tar to doctor baseballs when he pitched.
Said Mazzone: “One time Smoltzy had it on his shoes and I said, ‘John, you can’t keep bending over and touching your shoes all the time. Let’s put it someplace else!’ “
On Thursday Mazzone was backing off those comments
“We were trying to have some fun on the air and in trying to have some fun somebody took a story and ran with it and said that I said that Smoltzy cheated in the game,” Mazzone told WNNX-FM in Atlanta on Thursday morning.
Asked point blank whether Smoltz cheated during his pitching career, Mazzone told WNNX, “No, absolutely not.”
Mazzone also expressed disappointment that his comments were taken out of context and that they created such a stir.
“I am so angry about it because somebody took it and ran with it and said ‘the Braves pitchers were cheating,’ ” Mazzone told WNNX. “That’s a bunch of bologna.”
Mazzone though didn’t deny that pine tar was used.
“With something like pine tar, that’s not doctoring a baseball,” Mazzone told WNNX. “That’s trying to get a grip when it’s cold. What’s wrong with that?”
During his 21-season major league career, Smoltz went 213-145 with 3.33 ERA and 154 saves. Twenty of those seasons were spent with the Braves, with whom he won the 1996 NL Cy Young award.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has already expressed his desire to either be traded when teams are allowed to do so or he will retire. His teammates like running back Cedric Benson have also spoke out on his demands saying team owner Paul Brown should let him walk. Now Bengals defensive tackle Tank Johnson has lent his feelings towards the situation when he was doing an an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio.
“In terms of what (Benson) said about Carson, I mean, he’s absolutely right. There’s no way that you can bring that kind of energy into the locker room. I mean, if a guy doesn’t want to be there, let him go.”
Johnson wasn’t done talking about trying to avoid team distractions beyond the Palmer situation either. He said the team had them going as training camp when he said wide receivers Chad Ochocino and Terrell Owens had a negative impact on chemistry.
“When we got Chad and T.O. coming off their TV circuit right into our training camp, I mean, that just put a big cloud over a bunch of humble guys,” Johnson said. “And I’m not saying anything to take away from Chad and T.O.’s offseason adventures, because, hey, if they want you on TV, be on TV. But it just really clouded a bunch of humble guys.”
Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in a conference call with season-ticket holders that he hopes quarterback Carson Palmer changes his mind about retiring and returns to the team. However his starting running back Cedric Benson doesn’t feel the same way and wonders if the Bengals would be better off without him.
With Palmer’s “trade or retire” threat still holding steady Benson was interviewed by Bryan McGovern on his SiriusXM NFL Radio show with co-host Maurice Jones-Drew. “It wouldn’t be healthy for the team to bring him back,” Benson said. To bring him back would be detrimental to the team. If he’s there (and) not happy, he’s not gonna give us his best.”
Palmer has requested a trade, which the team denied. He then said he would retire rather than play for the Bengals next season. The team recently drafted TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Former New York Mets general manager and ex-ESPN analyst Steve Phillips weighed in on the steroid era in Major League Baseball on his Sirius XM radio show. While discussing the Barry Bonds perjury trial, Phillips went on to suggest that steroids helped the game.
“Thank God for steroids,” he said. “It brought the game back from extinction.”
Phillips was fired by ESPN after he admitted to having an affair with a 22-year-old production assistant.