December 7, 2008

Game Over

"He makes it look easy. You wish there was another league he could get called up to." - Dwight Gooden on Greg Maddux

13 years, 3 different trials and THIS is what we get…9 to 33 years in prison?

After all the garbage we’ve had to endure (the white Bronco, Kato Kaelin, the dude with the Rollie Fingers mustache)…we can’t even get a REAL sentence?!?

What’s even worse is that O.J. Simpson NOT going to jail for life for, what he claims, “confronting friends” was EVERYONE’S top story on the same day that (arguably) baseball’s best right-handed pitcher of the live-ball era announced he was hanging it up.

But I’m not surprised.

Regardless of his accomplishments (and there were PLENTY), Greg Maddux has never really been in the spotlight. I mean, here’s a guy who never evoked a “can you believe you did THAT” response from anyone. There were never any “Manny being Manny” moments…he never got hit with any weapons charges.

He never threw a perfect game, much less a no-hitter.

He was more professor than pitcher...looked more like an astronaut than an ace. There was no “Mad Hungarian” slapping of the glove…no Jonathan Papelbon glare.

And not that it is the benchmark of how you should rank a guy, but he only made the cover of Sports Illustrated once.

Once.

355 career wins (eighth all-time), eight All-Star game selections (three starts) and 35 post season games and he only makes the cover once?

By comparison, the afore mentioned Simpson made the cover NINE times. Maddux’s stiffest competition in the “best righty of the live ball era” category, Roger Clemens, fronted SI seven times.


But he doesn’t need to be on some magazine to prove his worth. If you’re curious as to how good Maddux was…just look at his stats and marvel at how many things you DIDN’T know about the guy.

At 355-227, Maddux carried a career winning percentage of .610. Every Hall eligible pitcher 100 games over .500 is enshrined.

Throw out the six games he pitched in 1986 and he only had THREE losing seasons out of 22. And of those 22 seasons, Maddux had 13 or more wins in all but two…a feat matched by no other.

He won his four Cy Young Awards in four consecutive years (1992-1995). During that time, he notched a 75-29 record and a 1.98 ERA. It is worth mentioning that along with that miniscule ERA comes another historic footnote. During the live-ball era, there have only been five pitchers to have full-season ERAs under 1.65… Bob Gibson (1968), Luis Tiant (1968), Dwight Gooden (1985) and Greg Maddux.

Twice.

In 1997, you could take off your shoes and count the number of batters (20) that Maddux walked on your fingers and toes. During one stretch (1994-1997), Maddux threw 890 innings, walking 102 and striking out 686.

To say he was a “control pitcher” is an insult to the phrase. Maddux was THE control pitcher of his generation. Joe Morgan once said that Maddux “could put a baseball through a life saver if you asked him."
And the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers and Padres did...740 times. More than all but three pitchers (Cy Young, Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton) in history.

Never a power pitcher, his 3371 strikeouts rank him tenth all-time. Of the Hall eligible pitchers ahead of him, only Bert Blyleven does not have a plaque in Cooperstown. "Mad Dog" was crafty.

In 2006, Maddux matched Jim Kaat’s record by earning his sixteenth consecutive Gold Glove. Not to remain tied atop any leader board…he brought home the hardware in both 2007 and 2008 bringing his total to 18.

I could go on and on for days chronicling what Maddux has done…but I won’t.

I will, however, predict that Maddux will quietly be the first unanimous Hall selection when he is eligible in 2014. And as a sidenote, keep an eye on the class of 2014…it could shape up to be a crowded, crowded field depending on how this offseason plays out.

BallHype: hype it up!

4 comments:

SamJoshAlex said...

Wow S. I keep getting more n more impressed with your writing. It's a talent that's wasted at TVO.

I'd like to say that this one is your best yet but that may be simply because I've always been such a huge Maddox fan.

Well done sir I say very well done.

Rusty Shackleford said...

He's hands down the best pitcher of my generation, especially now that Mark Prior missed last season. Now that the real Roger has been exposed, there should be no doubt as to the dominance Greg displayed through his career.

Brian J. Bushaw said...

There is nothing that makes me happier (in sport) than when guys who are "class guys" get the credit they deserve.

Poindexter was a great pitcher and a super old man when he returned to Cubs in the twilight of his career. I worry guys like Maddux are going to be few and far between now--careers are shorter because teams are looking for huge, power pitchers who will not last as long, free agency has made it so players will not necessarily be identified with one (maybe two) team (yes, I know Poindexter threw some meaningless games in LA and SD, but who doesn't think of him as a Brave or a Cub?), and they certainly will not maintain the kind of consistency, class, and well...class, Maddux had.

18 Gold Gloves? That is retarded. Who does that?

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