- Congressman: McAuliffe victory means gun control a winning message
- Hillary Clinton aide admits soliciting disgraced D.C. fundraiser; says actions were legal
- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- Obama goes shopping at Gap as minimum-wage thanks
- N.J. woman charged after client dies from black-market butt injections
- CIA chief Brennan ‘determined’ to speak out more this year
- Reset? What reset? U.S.-Russia ties at worst since Cold War
- 9/11 terror plotter released in Syrian prisoner swap
- D.C. elections board gives green light to marijuana legalization initiative
- Elephants can tell difference between human languages: study
HARRIS: By any measure, Greg Maddux worthy of unanimous praise
Greg Maddux headlines the baseball Hall of Fame class announced Wednesday, which shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise. He’ll go in this summer along with former Atlanta Braves teammate Tom Glavine and former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.
It’s a fine, worthy class. You can make cases for a number of others but the three who definitely belong in got in the Hall.
The only real question lingering over the process is how 16 of the 571 voters could leave Maddux off their ballot.
If ever a player defines Hall of Famer, it is Maddux. While he might not compare image-wise to a Michael Jordan in basketball or Jerry Rice in football, he was every bit as top-tier in his sport. He wasn’t fancy. He wasn’t flashy. He wasn’t an outsized personality. He was merely the best pitcher of his generation and one of the best pitchers ever.
In a long career that has involved watching a lot of sports on a lot of levels, Maddux is easily one of the top three performers ever witnessed. Sports writers are often asked, who would you pay to see? Maddux. Repeatedly. He was that good.
A few numbers for those unfamiliar with his work: A 355-227 record over 23 seasons. Seventeen straight seasons with at least 15 victories. A seven-season stretch where his highest earned run average was 2.72. Back-to-back seasons in Atlanta where he went a combined 35-8 with ERAs of 1.56 and 1.63. From the time he was 22 until the time he was 40, he pitched at least 200 innings every year but one. That season, he missed by two-thirds of an inning.
He won the Cy Young Award four years in a row. He won 18 Gold Gloves.
Remarkable excellence for a very long time.
You look at those numbers and, without an image of Maddux, might conjure up a vision of a menancing, intimidating presence like 6-foot-11 Randy Johnson, who could unleash the pitch in a wild flurry of arms, legs and long hair. Or of a steely-gazed Roger Clemens and his overpowering fastball.
Nope. Maddux is listed at 6-foot and 170-pounds, which frankly seems to be a slight exaggeration. When he wore his glasses on non-pitching days, he looked more like your local Eagle Scout than a dominating athlete.
Someone on every team he pitched probably had a better fastball, a better curve, a better change, a better slider. But nobody had a more complete repertoire of pitches or a fast-working brain that allowed him to stay a step ahead of almost every hitter.
Don Sutton, another Hall of Fame pitcher who spent the Maddux years in Atlanta as a broadcaster, summed him up as well as anybody.
Maddux, Sutton said, “can hit a gnat in the butt from 60 feet with four different pitches.”
You combine that kind of arsenal with Maddux’s mind and you get a Hall of Famer, a guy who was a favorite of writers on deadline because games he started tended to end in closer to two hours than three.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Washington Times sports editor Mike Harris has more than 30 years experience in the business as a reporter, columnist and manager. He’s covered a wide variety of events including two Olympics, horse racing, auto racing, professional and college sports. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the section on Twitter @WashTimesSports.
- HARRIS: Shopping season opens for Redskins, who need plenty of help
- HARRIS: Blown game leaves Caps missing the point
- HARRIS: Dust off the snow as Nats spring training heats up
- HARRIS: Caps have work to do to keep playoff streak alive
- Caps' Canadian contingent cheers for country over Carlson
Latest Blog Entries
- Gio Gonzalez living a dream by throwing bullpen sessions to ex-Yankee Jorge Posada
- Meet Connor Carrick, the youngster who played his way onto the Caps' final roster
- Go Aggies: Nationals notes and lineups for Sept. 14
- RG3: There is no conflict with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan
- Sunday Nats-Dodgers lineups and some thoughts from reliever Craig Stammen
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- House Democrats trying to force unemployment insurance vote
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- FCC targets black conservative in TV station fight
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Redskins keeping Santana Moss, agree to terms with two others
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again