Will Smith was one of the most polarizing figures of the current Braves era. On one hand, his performance in the regular season never lived up to the three-year, $40 million contract he signed with the team prior to the 2020 season. But on the flip side of things, the month he put together last October where he looked like prime Mariano Rivera will be remembered in Atlanta fondly forever.
There were undoubtedly many lows, but they were erased by the highest of highs. Smith will go down as a legend in Braves country, and he gifted the fans some parting words after being traded to the Astros before the deadline.
What a perfect message. Smith has undoubtedly been the most scrutinized member of the Braves over the last three seasons. It comes with the territory of a high leverage reliever, and Smith didn’t make it any easier on himself with his performance more often than not. However, the way he owns it with a little humor should remind everybody that these guys are human.
No matter how much a player struggles, they deserve respect. I’m sure Smith imagined his time in Atlanta going a lot differently, but I’ll trade all the unnecessary sweats and collapses for his 2021 postseason run every day of the week. Without Smith, the Braves never break the curse that haunted the city of Atlanta for over 25 years. And in another 25 years, that is all he will be remembered for.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire