I'm going to take a brief break from hockey for a baseball post. While I was doing laundry at the laundromat today - did you know when you own a house and an appliance breaks no one pops over to fix it for you?! - I saw a scroll on the bottom of the TV screen that said Greg Maddux had announced his retirement today. In true Greg Maddux fashion, I had to dig around to find a halfway decent story about it on the internet. Low key and underrated to the end. Here's something I wrote about Greg on my very first blog back when he won his 300th game. Some of the details within are different now but the sentiment remains the same.
Thanks for being the kind of player who I could love even when I really, really hated the team you played most of your career with. The Braves handed my team, the Pirates, the most crushing loss of my life as a fan, and at the end of the day, I still really liked you.
Thanks for wanting to win and being super competitive without throwing bats at people and storming around the field like a madman. You've always done your talking with your arm and glove and not with your mouth. In some circles, that's pretty rare today.
Thanks for embracing the role the of The Professor, something most most athletes would hate. Thanks for wearing your glasses when you're not pitching. Hey, it's a small thing, but this bespectacled girl thought it was cool (and still does).
Thanks for being friends with the pitching staff that you pitched 10+ years with. I don't expect every athlete to be bestest friends with their teammates, but it is awfully nice when it does happen. Can I come golfing with you, Tom, and John some time?
Thanks for not really caring that people tend to overappreciate Roger Clemens and underappreciate you. Roger's heat is more attention-grabbing than your pinpoint control and pitch variation, but I don't think you care. Most people say they would take Roger as a starter over you, but I don't think you care about that either. When Roger got win number 300 we had weeks of countdowns, constant media coverage, and story after story in magazine after magazine. When you got close to 300 we didn't get much at all. When you GOT 300 you STILL didn't get much at all. But I don't think you care because in the end, your team got the win that day.
Thanks for being so great for so long. Sure, some of that is beyond your control - you've only been on the DL ONCE in your career! But here's a couple fun facts that you might not even know. Not one player who played in your first win (Sept. 7, 1986) is still playing. None of the other 12 winning pitchers that day is still pitching. You've had sixteen (!) 15 win seasons. For nine straight seasons you had a walk ratio lower than 2 per nine innings. Amazing.
Thanks for not coming out to tip your hat after your 300th win because it wasn't your home ballpark and you didn't think it was respectful to the other team's fans. I don't know that they really would've had a problem with it, Greg, but most athletes wouldn't have been able to see that moment as anything but theirs so you definitely get points for thinking beyond yourself.
And most of all - probably above all else - thanks for just being a good guy. I've never had to read a story about your sexual escapades, your adventures with drugs and alcohol, your anger management problems, or your cancerous attitude in the clubhouse. Your coaches seem to like you, and your teammates seem to like you even more. You've always gone out to the mound, thrown the ball, and then gone home and I love you for it.
Now that Roger Clemens is buried in a pile of steroid allegations, I think Greg Maddux is hands-down the best starter of his generation. You can disagree but you'll be wrong.