Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Giant Tip of the Cap to Chuck McGill for todays NVD Sports Page !!!


Anyone who reads the efforts I put up here on this site surely knows about my having one and one only Professional Sports Hero, Greg Maddux. Maddux announced his retirement yesterday at a Press Conference at the Bellaigo Hotel near his home in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I am bummed on many levels as I had hoped that Greg would come back for one more season and for lack of a better way of saying it, give me a reason to care about Major League Baseball.
Now that Maddux has made it official the good folks at ESPN can spend all of their time and energy talking about who is going to be the next $200 million dollar man. I know the old line about the fine line between sports and business but I personally think that the ship has sailed.
The strike that wiped out the World Series, Sammy Sosa and his corked bat, the day that Mark Mcguire appeared before congress, the circus surrounding Roger Clemens and the freak show that was Barry Bonds pursuit of the Home Run Record. Six to one it is a pick-um for some people has to which of the above was the most damaging to the Greatest Game ever played but it is not so tough for me.
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Turn the clock back a few years to the day that Alex Rodgreety signed the 10 year/$252,000,000.00 free agent contract with Tom Hicks and the Texas Rangers. I really loved the story about why it was $252mill vs $250mill but I am not going to type it hear but I heard it second handed. A-Rod and Hicks changed my outlook on the game at the Professional level.
But every fifth day Greg Maddux gave that back to me and then some. The Class Maddux showed throughout his entire career is simply amazing and that is what made me a fan of "The Professor" some 20 years. There are no Maddux sound bites that get played over and over for the point of trying to embarrass him.
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To try and pick one example would be difficult but I will try just the same. This year I took to the road on three occasions to watch Maddux pitch in person. First to Philli, then to San Diego and finally up to D.C after the trade from the Padres to the L.A Dodgers. Did I manage to see the right hander collect one of his 355 career victories? Nope - in fact in all of the years of following him around I was never in the park on a night he earned a victory but I had zero complaints and the same is true for Maddux.
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The night was August 15,2008 and as it turned out the game was the final one Maddux would pitch as a Padre in Petco Park. I made the trip out to California for the game and was sitting right behind the Padre dugout when Greg headed out to duel with fellow 40 something year old Jamie Moyer and the Philidelphia Phillies. Moyer and Maddux turned back the clock, turned in way back for the evening.
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One zero went on the scoreboard, then another and another until before you knew it was 0-0 heading into the top of the 7TH inning. This was the same line-up that would go on to win the World Series later and Maddux was in his zone. Madux had a four hitter going and had also recorded four strike outs.
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In the top of the seventh Maddux made a slight mistake to Pat Burrell and the fly ball to left field made it into the tenth row. One pitch and he was now down 1-0 and that turned out to be the final score. Fast forward to the post game interviews and there is Maddux- not saying I deserved to win, not saying that the offense let him down and showing anyone up. What did Greg Maddux want to talk about - the amazing pitching performance of one Jamie Moyer!
That is one story of a couple hundred I could tell but I think it makes the point I am after. The game of ML Baseball suffered a loss Monday afternoon when one of the greatest ambassadors of the game stepped away from the diamond. It was never about I,I,I for Maddux it was about the team and it was never about the cash grab either.
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I have to story I like to tell about the collection of Maddux jerseys I have from his days as a Cub,Brave, Dodger and a Padre. When asked which jersey of his is my favorite I don't even hesitate to say his New York Yankee jersey. The immediate response from a baseball fan is Maddux never pitched for New York. This is true and my NYY Maddux jersey is simply a NYY jersey that is blank on the back. I am not going to try and say Maddux was not compensated by the Braves or that he doesn't have more money than his boys will ever need, just saying he didn't sell his soul on the journey.
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It was about class, it was about his family, it was about saying the right things and these are some of the reasons I am a die-hard Maddux fan. The fact that he won 355 baseball games (the 8TH highest total in MLB history) was simply icing on the cake for me.
Now I know that Chuck McGill didn't center the page of today's Northern Virginia Daily because we are friends and he knows that Maddux is my guy. But in my world that doesn't mean you don't say THANK YOU just the same.
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A tip of the cap to Greg Maddux and a second one to Chuck McGill...

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