Monday, December 08, 2008

A Maddux Put Out to Pasture

I swear that when this story ran in the print edition of Saturday's LA Times the headline was "Likely Hall of Famer Maddux to Retire." Likely? You might as well say "likely funny man Buster Keaton" or "pretty much a good writer Gustave Flaubert" or "the rumored to be attractive Julie Delpy."

Maddux is (was? sob) probably my favorite non-Met player, and that's saying something given for many seasons he was as non-Met as one could be, beating the Mets as a member of the hated Atlanta Braves. Indeed, what team did Maddux have the most wins against for his career? The Metropolitans. 35 of his 355 wins--that's 10%--came against the Mets. While the Mets are 99% of baseball to me (the other 1% is my fantasy team), that's still a shocking figure. His post-season record may have been iffy, but he did everything he could to bury the Mets. Yearly. Yet I admire him greatly.

Of course it's easy for me to like the guy who looks non-jocky -- heck, he wore glasses (I'm not that non-jocky). Of course he far from needed glasses while pitching, for his game was all about where the ball went, not how hard it got there. What's more, it would seemingly always go where he wanted it, and that would be the last place the batter expected. For his career he gave up .7 homers per nine innings. What's even more striking, and I mean that literally in this case, in the last 15 years and 3,299 innings of his career, he issued a total of 392 walks.

Simply put, you couldn't have a smarter ballplayer than Maddux. He won 18 Gold Gloves because he worked at his fielding and thereby improved his pitching (do you think most pitchers think about how important defense is to their job?). And then there's this stat--lifetime, he was 11 for 14 as a base stealer. He would take anything you'd give him.

Sadly the last time I saw him live, I had to root heartily against him as he started the third game of the 2006 NLDS against the Mets for the Dodgers. That game had to eat at Maddux--the Mets put together a series of dribblers and seeing-eye hits that meant 4 first inning runs (only Paul LoDuca trying to go first to third on a single--guess he forgot to shoot up that night before the game--and an amazing grab on a liner by a suddenly on my radar rookie James Loney kept it from being more). In a way those hits did to him what his pitches usually did to batters; they'd go up, pitches would just cut the corners, they'd sit down or jog back to the dugout after grounding meekly out. There was so little impressive about it that it was completely impressive.

Maddux will be missed because in an era highlighted by feats of strength and chemicals, he suggested there's still a place for very good athletes who don't look like much but have brains bigger than most folks' biceps. Put him in the line of fine, classy righties with Matthewson and Seaver.

And here's hoping he suddenly decides to go to the Hall in a Cubs cap. You can't hate the Cubs--they never win anything.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Sorry to see him hang it up. He's a shell of his former self, but there's a goofy side of my that wanted to see him make a run at Spahn and Mathewson.

Meanwhile, he pulled one game ahead of the Rocket, which makes me wonder if that guy will try yet another comeback . . . if anyone will have him.

4:02 AM  
Blogger Drew said...

Not that I'm disputing the attractiveness of Julie Delpy, but I will at least point out that a back-to-back screening of the two Befores resulting my realization that men find her a lot prettier than women seem to. This may have been an isolated incident. I was surprised.

Also, I just learned who Greg Maddux was.

11:37 AM  
Blogger George said...

Delpy was at the film festival a couple of years ago and she was even more beautiful in person--totally charming too. So if women don't like her, that's their loss.

But if I do need a new "rumored to be attractive," I can do that without leaving France--how about Emmanuelle Beart?

(And all these links better drive some traffic to this blog--I'm tired of getting all the Morgana the Kissing Bandit hits.)

12:22 PM  
Blogger Drew said...

If we're to have the conversation about people rumored to be attractive, my votes go to Juliette Lewis and Chloe Sevigny.

Again, irrespective of baseball and Mr. Maddux, but it's the best I can do, given my areas of expertise.

12:26 PM  
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