Man Do I Agree!


#1

Since the National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted its first class of players in 1939, 300 members have been enshrined in its hallowed halls. With names like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Nolan Ryan, it is shocking to think that the Baseball Writers of America have still yet to induct any player unanimously.

The New York Mets’ Tom Seaver holds the record for being the player with the highest percentage of hall of fame votes at 98.84 percent, or 425 of the 430 ballots cast. In order to become a member, the presumptive inductee must be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots.

In 2014, the Hall of Fame will welcome one of its most prestigious classes in history when the Atlanta Braves will likely send Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox to Cooperstown. While all three have every right to be first-ballot Hall of Famers, Maddux is in a different stratosphere of baseball legends and should unequivocally become the first unanimous selection in history.

Why it Should Happen

The art of pitching has devolved into a position of throwers. Much the same way the quarterback is trending toward the athletic sprinter over the cerebral thinker, pitching intangibles are being ousted in favor of any rubber-armed mound jockey who can cock and fire 95 mph anywhere in the general vicinity of the plate.

But Maddux was different.

He was the thinking man’s pitcher who simply out maneuvered hitters to get them out. In this prime, Maddux was downright filthy. His cut-fastball painted the black with such ease and precision, as he forever kept hitters off-balanced by adding and subtracting speed from each pitch.

Like a Rolodex of information, Maddux’s baseball mind was continually spinning to remember tendencies and past match-up of hitters in an era in which every stat and piece of game film was not immediately collated and indexed for easy reference by a team of nerds who should really be working for NASA instead of figuring out the ERA of left-handed pitchers in outdoor stadiums where the hot dog vendors serve Hunts ketchup instead of Heinz.

One of my favorite Maddux stories happened in the twilight of his career, when he returned to the Chicago Cubs at age 38. A youngster on the Cubs’ staff recounted a tale of sitting with Maddux during one of his off days and listening as the old-timer would tell him the exact pitch that the opposing pitcher was about to throw before he even started his windup. There should be little reason why they called him “The Professor.”

Very few pitchers have ever attacked the art of pitching the way Maddux did, and he has all the requisite numbers to back up his place in history with any player who has ever had the joy of having to sweat in a polyester uniform on a 95-degree day in August.

His 355 career win ranks him No. 8 all-time, and most for any pitcher from his own era. From 1992 to 1995, Maddux won four consecutive Cy Young awards, marking the first time in history any pitcher ever completed the feat. From 1988 to 2004, Maddux recorded and unheard-of 17 straight seasons with at least 15 wins. And lest we forget, Maddux was also the best fielder at his position. He has 18 Gold Glove awards on his mantle - the most for any player in MLB history.

But throw out all of the awards and accolades. The greatest thing Maddux ever accomplished was being able to pitch until the age of 42. Maddux could still get major league hitters out with a fastball that had bottomed out at only 82 mph – Craig Kimbrel’s change up isn’t even that slow. But Maddux was a pitcher, not a thrower, and proved again and again why he was in a class all his own when it came to the art of pitching.

Maddux is a unanimous Hall of Famer. Whether or not the baseball writers choose to log the information correctly into the history books will not change that fact.

And Now Here is Why it Never Will

Exclusivity.

The Hall of Fame is arguably the most prestigious club – outside of Yale’s Skull & Bones secret society – to which anyone could hope to become a member. In order to maintain that air of superiority, the idea of the Hall of Fame must forever remain above its individual members. To say a player is 100 percent worthy of inclusion is to blatantly point out that the player is greater than the club itself, and the Hall simply would not allow that to happen.

There is no case to be made for why players like Aaron or Maddux shouldn’t be written on every single writer’s ballot with fourteen exclamation points after their name. Conspiracy theorists will paint a picture of old men in a room filled with cigar smoke and mahogany wood accents all plotting together to make sure no one player supersedes their authority. As valid as that image may ultimately be, it could also be a necessary evil.

Some will argue that the steroid players and backlog of cheaters throughout baseball’s history has already tainted the records to the point that the Hall of Fame has become a superfluous treehouse fort for adults, but the game of baseball is built on tradition, and the Hall of Fame is one of the bedrocks of that tradition. To denounce its importance is to denounce the essence of what makes the game great, and no individual player would ever be allowed to be the cause of that.

Maddux is absolutely a unanimous Hall of Famer who will have to be happy settling for 99.76 percent of the votes.

Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter who has been following the Atlanta Braves for over 20 years. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.


#2

Great stuff, JD.


#3

While not trying to put myself in the same sentence as Greg Maddux (I am not worthy) I will say that he’s been a role model for me ever since I started pitching. Even when I went to play college ball, the old and grizzly coach said that all new pitchers that came in were throwers. The problem was I had learned to pitch first. I’m still working on the throwing part.


#4

Yah know…even if you are a “knuckle dragger” (Read that as a “throw the crap out of it guy”) if you adopt his strategies and approach…study the game and play it with his intensity and preparation…it can’t be anything but a positive on your game 8) …of course once you actually “do” that…you may evolve into a less velocity minded guy and into one who does enough to do the job…I disagree with the author only to the point where they said his fb was at 82 when it was all done…I saw him hit 90 as a Padre


#5

Yeah, he definitely wasn’t down to 82. He wasn’t hitting 95, but not that low…


#6

Brooks Baseball has Maddux’s average fastball at only 82.04 mph in the moth of April in his last year! His average for the year was 84.99. He was a remarkable pitcher.


#7

Great article JD


#8

I am in wonder at this guys humility…he is such a competitor that he “knew” where he was in the pecking order…but is such a humble man…so extraordinary and worthy of all of the discussion.

ATLANTA – [b]While the baseball world continues to marvel at his accomplishments, Greg Maddux seems much more interested in finding ways to help today’s current players benefit from some of the instruction and knowledge he gained during his legendary Major League career.

Since spending the last of his 23 big league seasons with the Padres and Dodgers in 2008, Maddux has assumed a number of different roles. He’s currently employed by the Rangers as a special assistant to the general manager, a role he previously held with the Cubs. Earlier this year, he proudly served as Team USA’s pitching coach in the World Baseball Classic.

Through these endeavors, which allow him to work with pitchers that may have once idolized him, Maddux has simply attempted to provide the same kind of guidance he received from those managers and pitching coaches – most notably Dick Pole and Leo Mazzone – who helped mold him as he compiled the eighth-most wins (355) in Major League history.

“You coach and teach from your past experiences,” Maddux said. “I know the things Leo taught me and Dick Pole and Bobby Cox and all of these guys, it gets passed down a little bit to the players I’ve been around the last couple of years, and hopefully it helps them. That’s the goal now. You help a player here and there and try to get their career jump-started. You don’t think a whole lot about what you have done in the past. You’re just kind of focused on what you’re doing now and living your life the best way possible.”

While Maddux has never been one to bring attention to himself or his accomplishments, he understands he will likely once again become the focus of the baseball world on Jan. 8, when the 2014 Hall of Fame class is unveiled.

This year marks the first in which Maddux has been eligible for induction, and he seems to be a near-certainty to gain the honor of being a first-ballot electee.

A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from Baseball Writers’ Association of America members to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. No players reached that threshold in 2013. Second baseman Craig Biggio (68.2 percent), starting pitcher Jack Morris (67.7 percent) and first baseman Jeff Bagwell (59.6 percent) are the top returning vote-getters from last year’s ballot. Another potential first-ballot selectee this year is Maddux’s longtime Braves teammate Tom Glavine.

July’s induction ceremony in Cooperstown could include a strong Braves presence. There is a chance that Maddux and Glavine will be inducted at the same time as longtime Atlanta skipper Cox, who joins Tony La Russa and Joe Torre as the three legendary managers eligible for induction via the results of the ballots cast by a 16-man Expansion Era Veterans Committee.

The Veterans Committee results will be announced on Dec. 9, during the first day of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.

“Those guys were a big part of my baseball career, both Bobby and Glav,” Maddux said. “To be able to share something with them again would be that much more special. You’re always rooting for the best for your teammates and your ex-teammates. Whatever happens, happens. I’ll be happy for both of them regardless of what happens. Just to be considered is an honor.”

Maddux went 355-227 with a 3.16 ERA over 740 career starts. Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Pete Alexander, Christy Mathewson, Warren Spahn, Pud Galvin and Kid Nichols are the only pitchers who have recorded more wins. Spahn is the only member of this group who began pitching after the 1930 season.

When Maddux was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2009, Cox said, “I get asked all the time if he was the best pitcher I ever saw. Was he the smartest pitcher I ever saw? The most competitive I ever saw? The best teammate I ever saw? The answer is ‘Yes’ to all of those.”

Maddux began his legendary career with the Cubs in 1986 and won the first of his four National League Cy Young Awards while still in Chicago for the 1992 season. The cerebral right-hander came to Atlanta via free agency before the start of the 1993 season and continued to prove to be the Senior Circuit’s top pitcher each of the next three years.

Maddux became the first pitcher to win four consecutive Cy Young Awards – an accomplishment that has since been matched by Randy Johnson. He compiled an incredible 1.98 ERA during the 124 starts he totaled during that four-year stretch.

During the strike-shortened 1994 season, Maddux went 16-6 with a 1.56 ERA – the second-lowest mark recorded in a season since the mound was lowered in 1969. The next year, he went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and helped the Braves win the World Series.

“Winning that World Series and getting that ring definitely stands out, probably more than anything,” Maddux said. “Just being able to play the game as long as I did. I was very fortunate to play all of those years, stay away from injury and just live the dream for 20 years. I think that stands out more than anything.”

After spending 11 seasons with the Braves, Maddux returned to the Cubs and remained with his original club before being traded to the Dodgers midway through the 2006 season. He joined the Padres in 2007 and remained with them until being traded to Los Angeles to experience the final months of his career in 2008.

“I was fortunate to have played on different teams and be around a lot of coaches and managers,” Maddux said. “You kind of take something from everybody. It’s a nice luxury to have.”[/b]


#9

Great stuff JD


#10

It can’t be anything but a positive on your game Cool …of course once you actually “do” that…you may evolve into a less velocity minded guy and into one who does enough to do the job…I disagree with the author only to the point where they said his fb was at 82 when it was all done…I saw him hit 90 as a Padre


#11

How true chal…I saw it a couple of times with the Dodgers and on national TV as a Padre…
I read a piece yesterday that he is unanimous on all ballots so far…so we may in fact have the very first unanimous 1st round HOF guy in history…
The funny thing is…if asked…he’d be embarrassed…he knows how good he is but just is so humble about it…I’d empty my bank account just to sit with him and talk with and listen to him through an entire game.
I just don’t know how Babe Ruth wasn’t unanimous, neither was Henry Arron…but I think Tom Seavers record for 1st round votes will be eclipsed.


#12

Maddux not getting in with 100% of the vote basically means the HOF shouldn’t exist. It’s ridiculous. Same with Willie Mays, etc.


#13

So Kyle…how does the Babe and Hammerin Hank not get 100%…I say morons infecting the process is the only answer…


#14

His average fastball in April 2008 was 82.04 mph. Over the entire year, it was 84.99 mph.


#15

Thought this was an excellent article on Maddux’s approach:

[b]But behind every Maddux success was his utter confidence that, with a selection of masterfully controlled pitches that looked identical until the last second, hitters were fundamentally and forever at such a basic disadvantage that he was in complete command of his long-term fate.

“My dad never worried. He was ‘the house,’” Maddux said.

After a nice little pause, a slight change of speeds, his sly hole-card grin snuck out.

“I am the house,” he said.
[/b]


#16

Greg Maddux in with 97.2% of HoF vote.

How did he not get 100%?


#17

JD was right on the button. The voting process was, and still is, contaminated by not only morons but also imbeciles and idiots. They just don’t like pitchers, no matter how great they are. :shock:


#18

Some idiot who works for MLB.com said he only voted for Jack Morris and excluded everyone from the steroid era…

This from Ray Ratto at CSN

I credit Ken Gurnick of MLB.com for owning his “no” vote on Maddux rather than slinking behind the cover of anonymity. I do not credit his logic behind it – that he is voting for nobody in the steroid era. In fact, I think it is bat-guano loopy. But this is America, and he gets to be bat-guano loony and still keep his vote. If you think otherwise, move to North Korea and train dogs to eat disgraced Kim family relatives. You have the right mindset for that job.


#19

Greg Maddux was named on 555 of 571 ballots (97.2%)

I’d love to know how 16 sportswriters could leave him off.

And, if you want to REALLY protest baseball’s handling of the steroids era, then take a real stand and resign your job as a baseball writer. Don’t make your money off of a “tainted” sport. :slight_smile:

[This is a decent article from today about how writers were complicit in the whole steroids stuff:
http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/10261642/mlb-hall-fame-voting-steroid-era ]


#20

I’ve often said the the “real victims” (The prospects who didn’t get a shot because some career was prolonged due to roids) need to launch the mother of all class action suits and include MLB, the agents and the press…every damn one of them profited in huge ways because of steroids…makes me wanna puke every time I see someone in those groups talk about how “terrible” steroids and that era was…while they bask in their luxury homes and drink their wine…they scapegoated the players and took the check and now??? OMG Bad people!