John Smoltz was offered a contract by the Yankees after the 2001 season. What if he came to New York?
By Joe Giglio
When Luis Gonzalez’s broken-bat single blooped over second base in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, the Yankees dynasty came to an end. If recent Hall of Fame inductee John Smoltzhad made a different decision during the offseason, perhaps a different fate would have followed.
During a post-announcement press conference this week, Smoltz talked about turning down anoffer to pitcher for the Yankees when he hit free agency after the 2001 season, per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
“This is going to sound really crazy: It was so tempting and so exciting, but I never wanted it to be like, I’m going there just to get rings,” Smoltz said. “I wanted to go there because the experience and the whole mindset of getting a chance to get a ring was there, no different than it was in Atlanta.”
“And I tell you, it was so close that, to this day, Gene Michael, every time I see him, goes, ‘I can’t believe you did not sign that contract.'”
While the Yankees didn’t fall apart following the 2001 World Series, postseason success became very hard to come by for a franchise that had dominated October for a six-year run of excellence from 1996-2001.
Smoltz, one of the best big-game pitchers in baseball history, could have made a difference in postseason in 2002-2004, possibly moving the needle in the 2003 World Series vs. Florida or 2004 collapse vs. Boston.
Would the Yankees have continued to win big in October if Smoltz arrived after the 2001 season?