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Hall of Famer Smoltz still striving 'to be the best'

By Douglas Fritz • Updated Mar 7, 2018 at 3:16 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Competition may not be the driving force for John Smoltz in his new career.

But then again, he’s still trying to come out on top.

The Hall of Fame pitcher, who earned his Cooperstown ticket with the Atlanta Braves, said he still wants to perform his job at the highest level. He reached that goal as a Fox Sports color commentator last fall when he called the World Series with booth partner Joe Buck. The duo received many positive reviews for their work.

“I don’t think I’m competing in the sense with other broadcasters, but I’m competing in the same way of how I prepare,” Smoltz said before East Tennessee State’s “Talkin’ Hardball” event at the Johnson City Country Club on Tuesday night. “I want to be the best.”

Smoltz said he doesn’t just show up at games and expect his baseball experience or knowledge to carry him — even though it probably could.

“I don’t believe in showing up based on your laurels or on your past,” Smoltz said. “I want to be prepared. I’m very disciplined in that area. I want to be the best I can be, not in terms of ego, but because they’re paying me to be.”

He’s still in touch with the game, but Smoltz said he has fond memories of his major league days.

“I miss those days of playing because that was the most fun, competing and being counted on,” he said. “When you’re calling a big game, you’re just reliving those moments. Fortunately I’ve been through every single thing you can imagine, so nothing surprises me. The biggest challenge is keeping up with today’s technology and analytics and information. That’s a little overkill. I can get paralyzed by that.”

Having the opportunity to step out of a Hall of Fame career and into the broadcast booth is something few get to experience.

“I’m pretty blessed,” Smolz said. “It has come with some hard work and good breaks. I’m a big believer in putting your mind to something and you can achieve it. If you don’t dream it, you will never achieve it.”

However, broadcasting wasn’t on Smoltz’s radar after he retired from the game.

“It’s not something I set out to do, but once I got into it I wanted to reach the highest level,” he said.

Smoltz said he likes it most when he feels like he’s helped the viewer.

“The best compliment I’ve heard is someone saying, ‘Listening to a game, I’ve learned something,’ ” he said. “That’s great because that’s the goal.”

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