The Doc File

The online journal of Luke Dockery

Maddux Calls It A Career

Greg Maddux announced his retirement from Major League Baseball on Monday.

I grew up watching Maddux and the other members of Atlanta’s Big Three, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, baffle hitters and win lots of games.

Maddux was my least favorite of the three (he arrived in Atlanta last and always seemed somewhat like a hired gun), but he was also the best, and he put up some historically shocking numbers in the mid 1990s.

Really, Maddux was also most representative of the great Atlanta teams of the 90s and early 2000s—an absolute terror over the long course of the season who suddenly became mortal when the playoffs rolled around (Maddux was just 11-11 in the postseason during his 11 seasons with the Braves).

Maddux retired with 355 career victories, 8th on the all-time list and one ahead of Roger Clemens, which I think is significant, and appropriate.

Significant because I think Maddux wanted to finish ahead of the Rocket, and appropriate because I think he deserved to.

For much of the two pitchers’ careers, the debate raged about which was the greatest pitcher of the era. Over recent years, the argument had tilted in favor of Clemens, who continued to be one of the best pitchers in the game while Maddux increasingly looked like a 40 year-old who used to be good (eerily similar to what happened with Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr.).

Of course, then all the allegations of Clemens’ steroid use came out, and Roger joined the ranks of Bonds, Mark McGwire and the rest of the baseball stars who have fallen from grace.

And his sudden distancing of himself statistically from Maddux late in their careers made a lot more sense.

Clemens (like Bonds) was a great player who possibly could have been the best of his era, but Maddux (like Griffey) came by his numbers cleanly and deserves the distinction instead.

And really, maybe that would be the most fitting legacy of all for the Steroid Era.


  1. I read a few days ago that Maddux was going to retire, and I thought about doing a blog post about it. I chose not to– knowing that most of my readers wouldn’t care, unfortunately.

    Smoltz has always been my favorite of the three. Maddux was second and then Glavine.

  2. One of the refreshing things about Maddux is how humble he was, at least in public. I love this quote from his farewell conference:

    “I mean, baseball is all I know. I don’t really know a whole lot about anything, but I think I know a few things about baseball.”

    Much like Einstein knew a few things about physics.

  3. Lori,

    Most of my readers don’t care either…but I’m glad you do!

    Glavine was actually my favorite growing up, but gradually, over the years, Smoltz has replaced him.

  4. Jared,

    Yeah, I saw that bit from his conference and thought the same thing.

    I’m not convinced that the Braves couldn’t use a new pitching coach…

  5. Maybe it’s too optimistic to think Maddux would end up as the Braves’ pitching coach, but I really wonder how long it will be before he’s filling that role somewhere. One or two years, tops?

  6. John,

    Yeah, I don’t he’ll be able to stay away for too long.

    Personally, I think Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz should just all retire to Atlanta and fill the Pitching Coach responsibilities by committee. It probably wouldn’t work well at all, but at least then it would be easier to remember the glory days as we toil through more 72 win seasons.

  7. Somebody call the waaaambulance. It is so sad to only win 72 games. The Braves were on top for ten years. Just about every team except the evil Yankees would love that.

  8. Will,

    It was 14 years actually. And I’m not whining—I’ve just been conditioned to expect excellence.

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