Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

I don’t want them forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me. -Hank Aaron

13 Jul

Lonnie Smith, drug-addled psychopath

ajc.com | Sports | Lonnie Smith is safe at home

I quote from what happened after his time with the Royals ended after he got into various disputes with John Scheurholz:

Living then in Spartanburg, S.C., his wife’s hometown where they’d met in the minors, Smith went to a pawn shop and bought a Taurus 9-millimeter pistol.Smith took his pistol to his backyard and fired at the ground. He wanted to judge the recoil. He wanted to know how the gun would react when and if he took it to Kansas City and shot Schuerholz.

“I was at a point where I didn’t care about a lot of things,” Smith says. “I didn’t care if I spent the rest of my life in jail or dead.”

I feel safe knowing there’s an entire state between him and me. Oh, and he also claims he wasn’t fooled by Knoblauch.

14 Responses to “Lonnie Smith, drug-addled psychopath”

  1. 1
    Creg Says:

    I’ve heard many times that Lonnie claims he wasn’t deked by Knoblauch on that play. I’m not sure what’s the truth, but it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Lonnie is still unfairly blamed for the Braves losing that game and ergo the Series.

    It shouldn’t have ever come to that. Bobby Cox SHOULDN’T have brought Charlie Leibrandt in to face Kirby Puckett (who hit .406 versus lefties that year) in the 11th inning of Game 6. Sid Bream SHOULDN’T have grounded into a 3-6-3 double play two batters after Lonnie’s supposed choke job. And Otis Nixon SHOULDN’T have picked August 1991 to fall off the cocaine wagon.

  2. 2
    Creg Says:

    Oops…Bream’s double play was 3-2-3. I can still see Kent Hrbek pumping his fist after that one. Oy.

  3. 3
    Rhett Says:

    I’m one of the weirdos who’s favorite players are Lonnie Smith and Charlie Liebrandt. So that ’91 Series stung. I, too, think Lonnie is unfairly targeted, for all the reasons the article recounted.

  4. 4
    Andrew Says:

    So JS and Lonnie were so much on the skids in KC that Smith actually bought a gun and planned to shoot JS? And yet, Schuerholtz brought the guy to Atlanta?

  5. 5
    Craig Calcaterra Says:

    Read the article, dude: Bobby Cox was GM when Lonnie came to Hotlanta.

  6. 6
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Personally, I still blame the umpire who thought that pulling a guy off of first base, then tagging him, is a legal play.

  7. 7
    Colin Says:

    Bobby Cox has often defended the Liebrandt moves on the basis that Charlie had done well against Kirby in their AL faceoffs. I finally got around last year to tracking all of the times they faced each other in the AL, using retrosheet. Liebrandt pitched against Puckett in 18 games, covering 17 starts and 1 relief appearance. Puckett’s stats are below:

    AB – 56
    H – 18
    2B – 1
    3B – 1
    HR – 2
    BB – 2
    RBI – 5
    K – 6
    S, SH, HBP – 0
    BA – .321
    OBP – .344
    SLG – .482

    This compares to Puckett’s career line of .318/.360/.477. Pretty close overall. Puckett hadn’t exactly tagged him hard for home runs, but Charlie hadn’t owned Puckett either.

    Finally, it’s worth noting that Puckett had no extra base hits against Leibrandt in 1988 and 1989, their last two years against each other in the AL, although that only covers 18 PA, and he still hit .352 off Charlie in that span. In terms of homers, Puckett had none off Charlie in his first 9 games/33 PA; then 2 in his next 2 games/4 PA; then none again in his final 21 PA before 1991’s WS.

  8. 8
    Creg Says:

    Puckett vs. RHP in 1991: .289/.324/.393

    Puckett vs. LHP in 1991: .406/.436/.658

    True, Leibrandt had done OK against Puckett overall (and since whenI’d much rather have had Mark Wohlers or Jim Clancy face Puckett in that situation.

    Cox undoubtedly also sent Leibrandt out there to give Charlie another chance after he got rocked in Game 1. He had skipped him in Game 5 in favor of bringing back Glavine, then pitched Avery in Game 6 (then used Smoltz in Game 7, as everyone knows).

  9. 9
    bamadan Says:

    In an extra inning game ~ especially to lead off an inning ~ I don’t think the manager should focus extensively on just the next batter. The decision of which pitcher to use ought to look at how the whole inning is likely to develope.

    Following Puckett were Chili Davis (a switch hitter who had slightly better numbers versus RHP in 1991), Shane Mack (a righty), Mike Pagliarulo and Shamu Hrbek (a pair of lefties). The pen is getting short; do you want to start LaRussaizing batter by batter at that point?

    Already used that game were Steve Avery, Mike Stanton, and Alejandro Pena. Available were Leibrandt, Kent Merker (LHP), Randy St.Claire (RHP), Jim Clancy (RHP), and Mark Wohlers (RHP).

    Wohlers was a rookie with less than 20 IP in his career. Merker a fellow lefty. The others all had seasonal ERAs at least half a run higher than Liebrandt. In the NLCS, Leibrandt had a 1.35 ERA, so its not like he had been on a long slide.

    Personally, I think it was a reasonable decision that didn’t work out.

    And I want to know how the whale-like Shamu Hrbek was able to pick up body-builder Ron Gant without Gant flipping that fat piece of crap into the coaches’ box.

  10. 10
    Creg Says:

    If you insist on putting Leibrandt out there because you don’t know how long the game will go, then you tell not to throw the ball anywhere near where Puckett can hit it.

    As far as rookies with limited experience go, does the name Francisco Rodriguez mean anything to you? (Let’s also remember that Wohlers was the reigning Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year).

    Cox has always been a matchups guy rather than a stats guy (he double-switched religiously in the 85 playoffs, for one example), so it really surprises me that he would send Leibrandt out there in that situation. Sympathy for his rough postseason history (Charlie had also lost a pair of games in the 85 World Series) has to be the reason he was in the game.

    Oh, and Gant, as muscular as he was, was probably giving up 75 pounds to Hrbek.

  11. 11
    bamadan Says:

    Mark Wohlers didn’t become MARK WOHLERS until 1995, four seasons after the Leibrandt homer. In 19 MLB innings – his entire career to date – he had allowed 13 walks and k’ed 13. Yeah, he had dominated AA and been very good in AAA. But he had 19 major league innings! In post season play that year, he allowed 5 hits and 3 walks in 3.1 innings pitched.

    And that is the player one wants in a tied game in the 11th inning? Not me.

    K-Rod was brilliant briefly last year. Is he the rule or the exception? How about Johan Santana (a much better prospect than Rodriguez) post season last year as a near rookie – 8.57 ERA and a loss in the clinching game 5 of the ALCS. Or a star of Moneyball, Ted Lilly, “stolen” by Billy Beane and holder of a fine 13.50 ERA in post season play as a second year player. Or that fabled closer Byung Hung Kim, and his brilliant post season performance against the Yanks two seasons ago, in his second season. K-Rod means its possible; he sure don’t mean its likely.

    30 year old Hall of Famer hitters have a tendency to hit homers at opportune (or for the opponent inopportune) times. That doesn’t mean that the opponent failed or the manager mismanaged. Bobby Cox made a reasonable decision that simply didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision.

  12. 12
    Colin Says:

    If you insist on putting Leibrandt out there because you don’t know how long the game will go, then you tell not to throw the ball anywhere near where Puckett can hit it.

    But there was nobody out in the inning. You don’t do the unintentional intentional walk with the guy leading off the inning.

  13. 13
    Barker Says:

    Pena could have lasted one more inning…he was hot. Also, Lonnie choked. There were many pieces to the puzzle for winning the series and Lonnie didn’t put his in. He is a professional. He was the highest paid player on the team and he slowed down for no reason.

  14. 14
    Domon Says:

    Boy, a whole lot of people here are making me real proud I’m a FORMER Braves fan.

    First of all, the Braves never would have been in a World Series to begin with had Lonnie not contributed throughout the season.

    Secondly, it’s pretty sad that a guy survives all the adversity Lonnie has, contributed so much to a team, and a bunch of “fans” are bitching over a play that happened twelve years ago. I mean, my God, I’d love to see how any of YOU would have reacted in that situation.

    Then again, I honestly wonder how many of you would really even give a damn if the Braves were never in a World Series to begin with.

    Mr. Thomason, to call someone who busted his ass for this team, who has made a legitimate effort to turn his life around, and has openly admitted what he has done and almost did, a “drug-addled psychopath”, is absolutely disgusting. I wonder how you’d fair if someone dredged up your personal demons and every mistake you’d ever made in a public forum.

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