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Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year

Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year

3.9 10
by John Smoltz

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John Smoltz was one of the greatest Major League pitchers of the late twentieth/early twenty-first century—one of only two in baseball history ever to achieve twenty wins and fifty saves in single seasons—and now he shares the candid, no-holds-barred story of his life, his career, and the game he loves in Starting and Closing. A Cy Young


John Smoltz was one of the greatest Major League pitchers of the late twentieth/early twenty-first century—one of only two in baseball history ever to achieve twenty wins and fifty saves in single seasons—and now he shares the candid, no-holds-barred story of his life, his career, and the game he loves in Starting and Closing. A Cy Young Award-winner, future Baseball Hall of Famer, and currently a broadcaster for his former team, the Atlanta Braves, Smoltz  delivers a powerful memoir with the kind of fascinating insight into game that made Moneyball a runaway bestseller, plus a heartfelt and truly inspiring faith and religious conviction, similar to what illuminates each page of Tim Tebow’s smash hit memoir, Through My Eyes.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Passable baseball memoir by retired pitching ace Smoltz, centered around his efforts, at age 41 and after major shoulder surgery, to pitch just one more year. The author knew at an early age he would find his fortune as a professional ball player. For 20 years he was a stellar pitcher, both starting and relieving for the Atlanta Braves as they won 14 straight division championships and a World Series. In 2009, however, age and injury seemed to catch up to him, and he moved on from the Braves to the Red Sox and then briefly to the Cardinals. While he enjoyed mixed success in his final year, Smoltz has more in mind than simply talking about success in baseball. He uses his success as a metaphor for how to succeed in life. While he overcame many injuries and obstacles to stay in the big leagues as long as he did, his advice is too often expressed in sincere but hoary bromides ("I always looked at [failure] as an opportunity to grow") that do little to inspire. Similarly, his deep and honest profession of Christian faith ("I truly accepted Jesus Christ as my savior in 1995") gets lost in odd juxtapositions. For example, at one point he writes, "the two things I can point to that kept me persevering year after year for so many years were my faith in God and golf." Smoltz seems not to mean to give the two equal billing, but some readers may find it odd nonetheless. When Smoltz talks about baseball, the book comes alive. Whether he's discussing the differences between starting pitching and relief pitching and the difficulties of switching from one to the other, as Smoltz did more than once, or why power pitching wins in the postseason, or why the Braves won only one World Series, it all has the ring of authenticity and wisdom. Decent baseball book; mediocre inspirational book.
Publishers Weekly
Smoltz, an eight-time All-Star pitcher with the Atlanta Braves from 1988 to 2008, took an unusual path toward a likely Hall of Fame career. A premier starting pitcher before having Tommy John surgery, Smoltz became a dominant closer, a role requiring a completely different mindset. In his late 30s, Smoltz rejoined the Braves’ starting rotation, where he enjoyed more success before shoulder surgery marked the beginning of the end. An interesting career does not make for interesting copy, especially when the author admits that he “never wanted to write a book.” Ever so accommodating, Smoltz decides to tell his life story as a way to help others, a nice way of saying you’re in for 300-plus pages of inspiration-tinged platitudes. Among the anecdotes and observations, Smoltz describes a sports-playing childhood in Michigan that fed his competitive spirit, the struggles of rehabbing from career-threatening injuries in 2000 and 2008, and his Christianity. Sadly, Smoltz keeps the reader at arm’s length, whether he’s skimping on the details behind his departure from the Braves or repeatedly offering clichés as keen insight (failure, according to Smoltz, is “an opportunity to grow”). Those qualities, along with Smoltz’s defensive, immodest tone, make for a memoir that reads like an extremely lengthy cover letter. 16-page color insert not seen by PW. (May)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.08(d)


Meet the Author

John Smoltz is a former Major League Baseball pitcher and active sportscaster. He is best known for his prolific career of more than two decades with the Atlanta Braves, during which he garnered eight All-Star selections and received the Cy Young Award in 1996. He is currently the chairman of King's Ridge Christian School in Atlanta and is a scratch golfer. (Tiger Woods has said that Smoltz is the best golfer outside of the PGA tour.) He lives in Atlanta with his family.

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Starting and ClosingPerseverance, Faith and One More Year (Signed B&N Edition) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
bleacherbum99 More than 1 year ago
I was a big Smoltz fan, but he spends too much time preaching on his born-again Christian beliefs. You do get some insight on why he went from starter to closer to starter again. He talks about the difference between starting and closing. But the book jumps around and all over his life and can be difficult to follow. Overall, Smoltz does too much preaching, which is really why he wrote the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book, but I can't help but feel underwhelmed. Seems like a case of missed potential. Not much of the book actually focuses on his final season of play. Based off of the title, I would have thought much more would be said about that. Big disappointment. The book also had a very poor editing job. I have about 20 pages left, and thus far have seen for instances where the phrase, "I could care less," is used. I'm sorry, but it's, "I couldn't care less." If this incorrect phrasing were used in a direct quote, I could see letting it make print-- but they weren't. Sort of along with the editing/writing, much of the book is repetitive-- too many sentences start the same, "Now, I have to tell you..." or, "Let me just say..." you get the idea. I get that the book is probably supposed to have a bit of a conversational feel, but after awhile it gets grating to have no variety in sentence structure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LoopyGA More than 1 year ago
This was a gift for my Mom, who is a die-hard Braves fan. She absolutely loved the book and kept talking about it the whole time she was reading it. She even read part of it to me. So, if you love baseball and the Braves, you'll love this book about how Smoltzie didn't want his career to end and kept pushing for one more year.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book i really enjoyed it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chipper, smoltie, and maddux. My favorite braves
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
John Smoltz is one of the best pitchers to ever play major league baseball. For over twenty years he pitched for the Atlanta Braves, chosen eight times for the All-Star team and winning the Cy Young Award for best pitcher in 1996. He pitched in the starting rotation for fourteen years when an injury caused him to move to the bullpen and become a relief pitcher. After three years in the bullpen, he asked to rejoin the starting rotation. Many people, particularly in the sports media, asked him why he did this. His response: Why not? Smoltz begins the book with three things people need to know about him: 1. All he ever wanted to do was win 2. He's not afraid to fail 3. He never did anything in his baseball career just to set a record, or to be able to say that no one else has done what he has done Smoltz lived in Michigan, and his grandfather worked at the Detroit Tigers stadium. Young John grew up going to Tigers games, and he loved the Tigers. He was thrilled to be drafted by his hometown Tigers to play baseball, and disappointed when they soon traded him to the Atlanta Braves. His disappointed turned to happiness when he realized that the Braves were willing to work with him, that they valued their young players and worked hard to make him a successful pitcher. (The Braves are known for their excellent farm system.) Injuries plagued Smoltz throughout his career, and he pushed his body through the pain, hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery, which could end his baseball career. He eventually had the surgery, but with his amazing work ethic, he began a grueling rehab program and came back to pitch again, although as a closer. As a person who worked best with a steady routine, Smoltz found it difficult to get used to the unpredictability of being a reliever. As a starter, he knew which day he would pitch, so his mind was set. He could play his favorite hobby, golf, on his off-days. He said that "by going to the bullpen, I sacrificed two things that really helped me tick; knowing what was coming and feeling like I was in control." Besides baseball, two other things motivated Smoltz: golf and being a born-again Christian. He described the moment he knew that his relationship with God had to change, and how his life changed for the better because of it. He soon became a popular speaker at 'baseball church' gatherings, and later founded a Christian school in an Atlanta suburb. Now that he is retired, Smoltz has set his sights on joining the Champions Tour in golf , and Tiger Woods has said that publicly that Smoltz is the best amateur golfer he has seen. Smoltz frequently played golf with his pitching teammates, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and you can feel the joy on the pages where describes their bonding over golf. Smoltz was not re-signed by the Braves after twenty years, and he joined the Boston Red Sox for a final season. He describes the sadness he felt at leaving the team he helped to bring to 14 post-season playoffs, although with only one World Series title. I found his analysis of the toll that pitching in so many consecutive post-seasons took interesting, and I have to say it never occurred to me how damaging it could be. Boston was a disaster, and Smoltz was happy to be picked by up the St. Louis Cardinals after the Red Sox released him halfway through the season. He was happy to be able to contribute to the Cardinals playoff run, but wistfully says that he wished he could have ended his c