Hot Stove Hottie timeout: Farewell to Mad Dog

Normally at this time we’d be covering the things that went on in the MLB markets in the past week, but this week we’ll stand aside to tip our caps to one of the most brilliant pitchers our generation has seen or will ever see. Winter meetings are going on right now, and you can get all kinds of updates from MLB Trade Rumors, as well as great updates directly from Vegas from Will Carroll, John Perrotto, and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus.

Now, on to the very sad business of Greg Maddux announcing his retirement today.

The Mad Dog in his Braves days

The Mad Dog in his Braves days

Dear Greg Maddux,
Or maybe that should say “Mr. Maddux” or “Professor Maddux.” I don’t know. But please don’t really be retiring. I mean, I know why you’re doing it; it’s probably time and I do respect you for hanging it up before you become a shell of your glorious self, but this announcement of The End makes me realize how much of my childhood I wasted when I should have been watching you pitch. Now I feel like I didn’t appreciate you enough, and it’s too late.

But a lot of people were smarter than I, and took the time to follow you, whether you were with the Cubs, Braves, Cubs (again), Dodgers, Padres, or Dodgers (again).  So I’ll shut up now and let other people bid you farewell, because they’ve all said it better than I can.

Miss Minda

Joe Posnanski:

“I never presumed to think with Maddux or have a deeper understanding of why he was so good. I just loved watching him pitch, loved the whole scene, loved seeing the frustration batters would show, loved the way umpires over the course of a game became willing co-coconspirators, loved the way catchers would just let the ball tumble into the glove without moving, loved the way Maddux would fidget when he didn’t have all of his stuff working, loved it all. He was Mozart, I was Salieri, and no I couldn’t reproduce it, no I couldn’t get close to it, but I  felt like I could hear the music.”

Gene Wojciechowski: Well, I couldn’t actually pick a quote, this was too good. Just go read the whole thing. It’s good.

Tom Verducci:

“He is baseball’s beautiful mind, and yet Maddux kept his gift covered with a thick blanket of humility. Never in sports will you find this kind of greatness accompanied by such an utter lack of ego and entitlement. In 2004, when I asked him how much longer he might pitch, he told me, ‘I’m not worried about it. I’m already on extra credit.’ I replied, ‘Greg, you’ve been telling me that for years.’ He replied, ‘I’ve been meaning it for years, too.'”

“You all know the numbers. 355 wins says the most. You all know the style. He didn’t overpower, he didn’t walk anyone, he moved the ball at will and he hit any spot he so desired.
His baseball IQ is off the charts and it’s been well documented. I can’t imagine him staying away from the game, but it’s hard to picture him as a coach. Sometimes when you’re so good, it can’t be hard to teach others — just like you’re not going to see Michael Jordan on the sidelines coaching ever.
Whatever the future holds for Maddux, I wish him the best of luck. He’s done everything with class and has been a first-rate major league ballplayer. He’s the greatest pitcher I’ve ever seen, and will probably ever see.”

Mike Imrem:

The year was 1992, and Maddux would be eligible for free agency at season’s end.  [Longtime scout Dick] Tidrow was at Wrigley Field that spring to scout for the Yankees, who were interested in acquiring Maddux.

Tidrow came up with an excuse to go into the Cubs’ clubhouse before the game, just to see how Maddux prepares.

The way Maddux prepared that day was to sit at a table playing solitaire. Tidrow walked past him, Maddux didn’t look up, nothing at all was said, and neither man acknowledged the other’s presence with as much as a nod.

That September, Tidrow returned to Wrigley Field to take another look at Maddux. Same drill – he went into the clubhouse to check out the imminent free agent who was about to win the first of his four straight Cy Young Awards.

Again Tidrow walked past Maddux, who again was sitting at a table playing solitaire. Remember, this was months after Tidrow’s initial visit.

Finally Maddux said, “Back again, huh?”

See? They all said it better than I can. Though the Hall of Fame is full of uncertainty, I feel very confident in saying that Maddux WILL GO IN, first-ballot, no questions asked. He’ll “awwwww shucks” his way through his acceptance speech and happily let the spotlight go shine on someone else, but no amount of humility will keep baseball fans – real fans – from remembering his brilliant career forever.

9 thoughts on “Hot Stove Hottie timeout: Farewell to Mad Dog

  1. I know it’s selfish, but when a player I like retires I can only think of how I am not ready to let them go. It usually takes a day or two for me to acknowledge that this is their life and their decision. It’s safe to say the day Mariano Rivera retires I will be locked in a (possibly padded) room crying like a baby.

  2. While Maddux accounted for a lot of my formative baseball years and this does make me feel old, I think it was a good time for him to hang up the spikes. It was still fun to watch him throwing that junk up there at 80 MPH the last few seasons because he was still somewhat effective with it, though.

  3. Maddux was such an artist on the mound and was always a joy to watch. Plus he is so cute in his off-day glasses. I’m going to miss him but I am glad he is getting to leave the game on his terms.

  4. Thanks Minda for this post – brought me a few tears too. Mad Dog was one of my all time favorites – he will be missed!

  5. There’s no light in the tunnel, no irons in the fire,
    come on up to the house!
    And you’re singin’ lead soprano in a junkman’s choir,
    you gotta come on up to the house!
    Don’t your career seem nasty, brutish and short?
    come on up to the house!
    The seas are stormy and you can’t find no port
    you gotta come on up to the house!

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