Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Farewell Greg Maddux, one of the best ever

By Rick Morris

It's possible to make a solid case for Greg Maddux as a top ten pitcher in the history of baseball -- personally, I feel like he's right on the borderline -- given that he had one of the most dominant stretches in recent decades between 1992-1995 at a time when offense in the game was increasing exponentially.

Certainly, he's top five all time in terms of pure control, when you consider that his entire career was predicated on "painting the black" rather than blowing the ball past hitters. He used his superlative accuracy to amass 355 career wins at a time when fans have come to question whether we'll ever see another 300-game winner -- and given that there are no suspicions about steroids circling around him, let's just say that it's fitting that he tallied one more victory than his contemporary Roger Clemens. Factor in 18 Gold Gloves -- a record -- and he stands out even among the peers of his era.

His awesome career heads into the history books after his retirement announcement this week.

Given that he was only 45 wins back of 400, he had a decent chance of eking out that number given a few more seasons. Even over the past few years as the "vintage Greg Maddux" faded, he still was slightly better than league-average, and he seemed like the kind of guy you could have pictured with a few more years of 10 wins and a 4.25 ERA. But clearly, that level of performance did not meet his standards anymore and he chose to walk away with his best days still a clear memory.

So now we say goodbye to one of the greatest players, not merely one of the greatest pitchers, of his time and a very classy competitor, Greg Maddux. Enjoy your retirement.

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