Sports Columns

January 17, 2013

Loran Smith: Boggs stays focused on the mound

Mitchell Boggs, whom the St. Louis Cardinals will likely offer a big raise any day now, is about to head for South Florida to begin his sixth season in the majors and what would be his fourth full year with the team. He has a World Series ring and made $506,000 last year, tying a club record with 78 relief appearances.

His salary is about to change, however, since he is eligible for arbitration. Boggs is about to become a millionaire.

Life is good for the former University of Georgia pitcher, whose due diligence is a hallmark as he plies his trade as a setup pitcher for a team that expects to compete in the World Series each year. Boggs feels “blessed” to have roster status with an organization with a history of winning and a corporate attitude that accentuates the positive.

St. Louis invests in championships. Only the storied New York Yankees have collected more World Series titles than the Cardinals, and Boggs is familiar with the history of his team. He likes it, and he wants to contribute to an effort to bring another title to the city known as the “Gateway to the West.”

This offseason has been no different from last year and the year before and the year before that. Boggs works as hard when there are no games to play. He knows that if you don’t perform in today’s game, you can lose your roster status faster than it takes him to fire a fastball from the mound to the catcher’s mitt.

On a recent rainy day in Dalton, Boggs reflected on his life and career, underscoring the attitude of the organization and its positive influence.

“We start out in spring training every year expecting to win the whole thing,” he said. “It is tough to win in any sport, and baseball seems to reward the team which is hot late in the year. That was the way it was with us in 2011. We barely got into the playoffs and won the World Series. Last year, San Francisco got hot and nobody could beat them. We had a pretty good team, even without Albert Pujols, but lost to the Giants, who just dominated the Tigers in the World Series. I think that surprised a lot of people.”

Perhaps the idiosyncrasies of the game can be summed up by Rangers manager Ron Washington, who is wont to say about the vicissitudes of the game, “That’s the way baseball go.”

Boggs understands the percentages of playing the game. You start by working hard and you don’t take a break until the season is over.

When it’s over, you stalk a deer in the early mornings and work out during the day. Fun is watching his Dalton High Catamounts play football in the fall. The quarterback for the Cats when they advanced to the Class 4A state title game in 2001, he passed for 2,224 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 684 yards and 12 touchdowns that year as a senior. At Georgia, he helped pitch the Bulldogs to the 2004 College World Series.

The offseason is a time when you prepare yourself, if you are a pitcher, for the seven-month grind of a major league schedule. Boggs has learned that the more you prepare in November, December and January, the better you will be in the crucial months of September and October.

“The last three years,” he said with appreciation, “I have been stronger in September than in April.”

That means in a big game when the pennant races are heating up and he gets the call from the bullpen, he might hum one across the plate at 100 mph. He expects his fastball to be clocked at 96-97 mph, but while that is his bread-and-butter pitch, he doesn’t rely on it exclusively.

“I had good success with my changeup last year,” he said. “What you want is consistency.”

Last year he got exactly what he wanted, posting a 4-1 win-loss record with a 2.21 ERA in 78 games.

Those are impressive numbers, the kind of numbers that in today’s baseball world make for millionaire pitchers. When that big payday comes, it won’t turn Boggs’ head.

He’ll still come home, watch the Catamounts in late fall, stalk a big buck and keep himself in peak condition for the spring.

Underscoring the work ethic is one way to keep your job in big league baseball.

Loran Smith is a contributing columnist for The Daily Citizen. You can write to him at loransmith@sports.uga.edu.

1
Text Only
Sports Columns
  • Doug Hawley: Cancer will not hinder Run for John’s finish

    With the seventh annual Run for John races scheduled for Saturday in Dalton, there is a community focus this week on the family of the late John Bruner.

    April 19, 2014

  • Devin Golden: Area aims for multiple tennis titles in tourneys

    Afew local high school tennis teams have had successful regular seasons and they aim for bigger achievements this week in the region tournaments.
    Murray County’s girls are right there near the front of the Region 7-2A pack.

    April 13, 2014

  • Chris Whitfield: Miller finds the win he has wanted

    Former Dalton High School standout Chase Miller has had four strong years at the College of Coastal Georgia, transitioning with the school as it went from a junior college program his freshman year to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics four-year school.
    The one thing missing from his résumé? A tournament title.

    April 12, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Big Three still a big deal for fans

    AUGUSTA — Sinatra is gone, but we still have his music. The same is true with Nat King Cole and Elvis. It would be nice to hear them in concert again, however. With Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, we are not sure what it will be like when they are no longer the honorary starters at the Masters.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tom Lindley: Managing dollars at the ballpark can be an exercise in good sense

    Attending an Opening Day game at a Major League Baseball stadium is one of life’s little pleasures. Everyone should get to experience it at least once.

    April 11, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Meeting old friends under the big oak a tradition, too

    The first time I was in a train station in Great Britain and saw a sign that read, “Meeting Place,” it brought me to a pause. How simple, how functional was this sign? In small towns it is not a problem to meet someone at Sheppard’s Filling Station or at the fireplug across the street from the Baptist church, but at a busy venue — like European train stations — there is nothing more sensible than meeting at the “Meeting Place.”

    April 10, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Golden Bear is still game’s top champion

    Jack Nicklaus is entitled to play the Augusta National Golf Club as a member now, which means when he takes friends out for a round of golf, he hits from the member tees. He hits it a long way still — certainly for a guy in his mid-70s — but not like in 1965, when he drove the ball on No. 15 so far over the crest of the hill that he only needed a 7-iron for his second shot.

    April 8, 2014

  • Chris Stephens: The boys of summer ready for rec baseball

    The emotions are far-reaching and played out all over baseball diamonds each summer. Fear. Anxiety. Fear. Anticipation. Fear. Excitement.
    But honestly, I have no idea how my son feels about his first baseball season. These are my emotions.

    April 5, 2014

  • Tom Lindley: Tough calls part of the job for refs

    Florida brings Scottie Wilbeken to the Final Four with championship hopes. Kentucky has Julius Randle, Wisconsin features Frank Kaminsky and Connecticut will be a tough out as long as Shabazz Napier has the ball.

    April 4, 2014

  • Heritage at NW base#1C009FA.jpg Devin Golden: Stage now set as NW, SE aim for series win

    The team isn’t the exact same, but Northwest Whitfield’s baseball squad is mirroring itself from a season ago.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo