Dan's Dugout: Smoltz Deserves Top FOX Spot • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Smoltz Deserves Top FOX Spot

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After years of foisting Tim McCarver and Harold Reynolds upon the baseball-watching public, FOX has finally wised up.

Hiring John Smoltz to work with the returning Joe Buck is one of the best moves the network has ever made.

Unlike many former players who don’t know what to do with a microphone in their hands, Smoltz is sensitive, thoughtful, and articulate. When he talks, people listen.

Already a Hall of Famer as a player, he could earn another niche as a broadcaster. He’s that good.

John Smoltz is the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves

John Smoltz is the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves

The golf-loving Michigan native has always been one of the more affable athletes on the major-league scene. Despite a well-earned reputation as both a prankster and a hypochondriac, Smoltz was a champion on and off the field. It’s no wonder he was the only player the Braves kept for the entirety of their 14-year divisional title run.

In 1991, when the Braves began their run, Smoltz was the winning pitcher in the divisional title clincher and the National League Championship Series clincher. He then pitched scoreless ball into the eighth inning of World Series Game 7, eventually won by Minnesota’s Jack Morris, 1-0 in 10 innings.

The Smoltz resume also includes a Cy Young Award — no mean feat when competitors included teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who also wound up in Cooperstown.

Although Smoltz also works for MLB Network, FOX finagled a deal that will let the former pitcher team with Buck on Saturday afternoon and postseason broadcasts.

Under the new arrangement, the FOX both will shink from three to two, with Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci wisely reassigned to less significant duties.

While certain to boost ratings, FOX would get more of a lift if it changed the starting time of games.

Starting at 4:00 during the season is an idea that must have been decided by committee — or by FOX higher-ups based at the network’s California headquarters.

Two-thirds of the potential viewing public lives east of the Mississippi but will not hang around to watch the end of a game that lasts three hours or more.

Saturday night is date night — even for married couples — and finding seats in a restaurant at 7:30 or

Craig Kimbrel's fastball is tough to see, let alone hit

Craig Kimbrel’s fastball is tough to see, let alone hit

later is more difficult than hitting a Craig Kimbrel fastball.

It’s even more important to get FOX to bring back day games in October. It’s too cold to play night games deep into the fall, especially on weekend nights. Nor does it make sense to start postseason games so late that most fans can’t stay up for the end.

Now that FOX has finally gotten smart about the composition of its broadcast booth, perhaps it can also improve its product by presenting it at a reasonable time.

After all, John Smoltz deserves a listening audience.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Seeking a platoon partner for centerfielder Juan Lagares, the Mets may have erred in signing Alejandro de Aza, whose defensive skills are below average . . .

New Giants signee Jeff Samardjzia has never had a winning season . . .

Dusty Baker wanted Brandon Phillips in Washington

Dusty Baker wanted Brandon Phillips in Washington

Since Dusty Baker managed Brandon Phillips in Cincinnati, the second baseman’s refusal to waive his no-trade clause for a deal to Washington was a major surprise . . .

The Yankees are willing to trade Ivan Nova but everyone wants Luis Severino . . .

Playing half his schedule in Wrigley Field should restore Jason Heyward’s power stroke . . .

The Cardinals can use Mike Leake as a pinch-hitter on days he’s not starting . . .

Teams are bombarding the Braves with offers for newly-acquired outfielder Ender Inciarte . . .

Hard to believe no teams wanted Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton under their Christmas trees . . .

Great to see MLB trying to re-establish ties in Cuba, where the Triple-A Havana Sugar Kings were an International League fixture before Fidel Castro’s revolution.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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