Friday, December 5, 2008

Greg Maddux to Announce Retirement

Greg Maddux is going to announce his retirement from MLB after 23 seasons at the Winter Meetings on Monday in Las Vegas.

Maddux is an indisputable first ballot Hall of Famer. Between 1992 and 1995, Maddux won four consecutive NL Cy Young Awards. He won the first award with the Chicago Cubs and the next three with the Atlanta Braves. Maddux earned a World Series ring with the 1995 Braves. In all, Maddux appeared in the post-season 13 times - 10 with the Braves, twice with the Dodgers and once with the Cubs. He was also selected to the NL All Star Team eight times and had to the honor to start the All Star Game thrice.

His 355 wins under his belt ranks him 8th on the all time MLB list. He becomes only the second major league pitcher to finish with more than 3000 strikeouts and fewer than 1000 walks. Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins is the other.

Maddux began his career with the Chicago Cubs in 1986 remaining with them through 1992. He signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves in 1993 and was the anchor of a rotation consisting of himself, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine. After pitching with the Braves for 11 seasons he returned to the Cubs prior to the 2004 season. Maddux was traded from the Cubs to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the middle of the 2006 season before joining the San Diego Padres in 2007. Maddux was traded back to the Dodgers during the stretch run of the 2008 season and pitched out of the bullpen during the 2008 post-season.

Maddux did not have an overwhelming fastball and looked more like a librarian than a baseball player. But Maddux knew how to pitch and had impeccable control. Even past his prime he remained a pitcher NL hitters dreaded facing. He also fielded his position better than any other pitcher who has stepped on a rubber winning 18 Gold Gloves. Maddux was effectively a fifth infielder.

However, he may be best remembered to many as the man who coined the phrase, "Chicks dig the long ball," in a Nike commercial he appeared with Glavine and Mark McGwire nearly a decade ago. As Heather Locklear looked admiringly at McGwire's tape measure shots all Maddux could do was protest, "Hey, we've got a couple of Cy Young Award winners over here."

But Maddux (and for that matter Glavine) will have the last laugh. Maddux is going to Cooperstown. McGwire is not. Perhaps chicks dig Hall of Famers.

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