Maddux never more popular
The irony is not lost on Greg Maddux.
It took his final season - before which he told the Daily Herald it was virtually certain to be his last - for him to become a truly popular figure around baseball.
Actually, it took the Mitchell Report.
Before Roger Clemens became Public Enemy No. 2 behind Barry Bonds, you rarely heard Greg Maddux mentioned as one of the best of his generation, let alone one of the best of all time.
Really? No one ever thought Greg Maddux, who won a record four consecutive Cy Young awards for being the best pitcher in the NL for four consecutive years, was one of the best pitchers of his generation? Has time and space ignored the fact that Greg Maddux walked under 1000 batters in his 5000+ inning career? Did nobody notice that he has 355 career wins (if you're into that kind of thing)? Does Barry Rozner even know who the fuck Greg Maddux is?
He was an afterthought,
With four consecutive Cy Young awards
considered less than special because he didn't overpower anyone, didn't throw no-hitters and didn't excite those who wanted 99 mph fastballs and 20-strikeout games.
Ok, so you're point is that Greg Maddux isn't Randy Johnson. You know who also didn't overpower anyone, "have exciting stuff," throw 99 MPH fastballs or strikeout 20 batters in a game? Hall-Of-Famers Cy Young, Lefty Grove, Lefty Gomez and Three Finger Brown to name but a few -- all players who pitched in an era where not only was the rubber much closer to the plate and the mound much higher elevated, but one in which it was also legal to cover the ball in human feces.
Did I mention that Maddux walked under 1000 batters in 5000+ innings?
But this year, suddenly, Greg Maddux became a great pitcher, while having his worst season in 21 years.
"I'm popular now,'' Maddux said with a laugh this weekend, as he prepared for a news conference today making his retirement official. "That's OK. I didn't need the attention. Better to sneak up on people.''
By saying little and offering even less with his actions, Maddux cruised under the radar.
Remaining relatively unknown before 2008.
During 22 seasons of quietly going about his business,
And winning four consecutive cy young's, 18 gold gloves (13 consecutive) and being nominated to eight All-Star games...
he merely won 355 games,
The most of ANY living pitcher alive.
good for eighth all time and one more than Clemens, who had - up until this year - been universally hailed as the greatest pitcher of the last several decades,
Really? Not Pedro Martinez or Nolan Ryan or Sandy Koufax? Roger Clemens? Not, oh, I don't know, Randy "Bird Killer" Johnson?
and by some as the greatest of all time.
1. To represent as greater than is actually the case; overstate.
2. To enlarge or increase to an abnormal degree.
Maddux wasn't even called the best pitcher on his own staff for most of his time in Atlanta
Despite being the perennial team leader in ERA, WHIP, K:BB, and Cy Young Awards.
And when he left Chicago as a free agent late in 1992, he was blasted for having made a big mistake
Actually, I do believe that it was the Cubs who were blasted for having made a big mistake.
and was informed then that Jose Guzman would be ample replacement for a guy who had never been impressive before winning 20 games and a Cy Young in 1992.
But now he's a big deal, history has been revised,
By you, apparently.
both in the real world and the imagined, and Maddux will get a hero's send-off by the national press in Las Vegas.
The man called greedy in Chicago 16 years ago this week will now be nominated for sainthood after leaving $10 million on the table.
Once called mediocre, he will be called one of the greatest of all time and absolutely the best of the last 30 years.
Who ever called Maddux, whose ERA was never above 2.75 between 1992 and 1998, mediocre?
Once called skinny and weak, he will be called clean in an era of filth.
Only fat, unathletic pitchers with big hearts and bigger stomaches are Men.
Once called dull because he was too wise to say too much, he will be called brilliant, funny and entertaining as he says farewell to the game.
"I never cared about any of that stuff,'' Maddux said. "The way I figure it, the less people know, the better. I had a teammate that played second base in Chicago who did that pretty well, and it worked out OK for him.''
Maddux will join Ryne Sandberg in Cooperstown in the summer of 2014, after he receives one of the highest vote totals in the history of the ballot.
We'll spare you the numbers because you've heard them all before,
Apparently you haven't seen his numbers before, since you think Maddux was "irrelevant" before 2008.
but Maddux finally has earned respect for an astounding career that placed him among the very best in 132 years of baseball in nearly every statistical pitching category of consequence.
And yet he was irrelevant before 2008.
But after 22 seasons and at the age of 42, Maddux has his sights set on much bigger goals.
"I want to watch my son, Chase, pitch and help him if there's anything I know worth telling him,'' Maddux said, with typical humility. "He's seen me pitch enough. He's 11 (years old) and now it's my turn to watch him.
"My family put up with a lot from me while I went off and played a kid's game. I've been lucky with health and the rest of it's just been fun.
"Everything I have is just from going to do what I enjoyed doing, and they paid me for it, too. I never got caught up in the rest of it, never looked too far ahead. I just enjoyed the moments, the going to the ballpark, the teammates. I enjoyed it all.
"I've been very lucky.''
Actually, Maddux's career -- one which was marked by a superiod HR/9 rate, a stellar BB/9 rate and well-above-average K/9 rate -- was hardly the byproduct of luck.
The rest of the article is pretty boring and pointless, but ends with this funny line
You'd forgive Greg Maddux if he privately wondered where everyone has been all this time.
I'm glad to see bad journalism alive and well in this grim post-FireJoeMorgan era.