So how often do you play?
"Pretty much every day."
"I'd say Smoltzie is the best golfer," says Smith. "Because when you ask Smoltzie, he will tell you he is."
"You won't have to ask him," says Avery. "He will open the conversation by telling you."
"Well," says Smoltz, all but blushing. "Right now I'm playing the best. But I've had more practice than the other guys."
Smoltz, a four handicapper, is sandbagging like a man waiting for floodwaters, a strategy that's not lost on five-handicap-per Maddux. The first time Maddux golfed with his hypercompetitive new teammates this spring, he fired a gaudy but imprudent 71. "Definitely not the way to go if he wanted to win some money this year," says Avery. "Now he's shooting 80s, 85s, trying to find a sucker. But nobody's falling for it."
"Everything just happened to go right that first day," Maddux insists, unconvincingly. "Every time I hit a bad shot, it came back to the fairway. I'm no better than any of the other guys."
Like Maddux, Smoltz will get a golf wager only by handicapping himself severely. Last month Smoltz bet Glavine that he could shoot a 90 using only a seven-iron and a putter. When Glavine quickly accepted, Smoltz said, Well, maybe a 92....
Which logically leads into '93. Perhaps we should wait until each of the five has pitched a game before we call this rotation the greatest of all time. "Maybe that would be more appropriate," says Schuerholz. "In fact, it might be most appropriate to wait until the end of the season and see if they've done anything."
Then we will see if the fifth day of Christmas comes in October for these five. Then we will see if they get five golden rings.