Results tagged ‘ all-time great ’

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Don’t miss out on your chance to vote for Vine Line‘s all-time best Cubs roster. We’re letting readers decide who is the best-ever Cub at each position, and the results will be featured in the July All-Star edition of the magazine. Cast your vote now before the poll closes.

Vine Line EXTRA: Greg Maddux retires

One of the best pitchers ever to step on a mound retired today. Greg Maddux called it a career today. His brother Mike might have been the older more scouted player out of high school, but Greg was the one for whom his father said to a bevy scouts watching Mike: “You’ll be back for my little one in a couple of years.”

The thing I remember most about Maddux while he was in his second tour with the team was you never knew exactly whether he was being straight with you or messing with you. During interviews, he had a small smirk, but I couldn’t tell if he was nearly ready to bust out laughing because I was eating up everything he said, or if he simply was enjoying the conversation.

He kept you guessing by the look on his face and his demeanor–completely neutral, no expression of emotion. Perhaps that’s why he was a scratch golfer. Perhaps that’s why he was the one guy Ryan Dempster said DO NOT play cards with or else you’ll lose your shirt (forget the fact he was from Las Vegas). Maddux looks indifferent to everything, and only allowed an occasional outburst on the mound when he gave up a home run. That was it.

Perhaps that’s why he was one of the best. Good luck “Mad Dog.” It was a pleasure watching you pitch.

The following “Leading Off” column was written in 2004, shortly after Greg Maddux made his first attempt at winning his 300th game.

— Michael Huang

It’s all about the team

In early July, hours before an anxious crowd would file into the cavernous confines of Miller Park, all that could be heard were the echoes of horsehide hitting Northern White Ash.

Watching the Brewers take infield practice, Greg Maddux sat in the visitors’ dugout talking to a couple of reporters. Walking by the dugout was Brewers third baseman Wes Helms, with whom Maddux had been teammates in Atlanta. Maddux immediately halted his answer in mid-sentence.

“How are you, Wesley?” Maddux inquired. Helms nodded in respect, then continued on.

“Good kid. I wish they could have made some room for him in Atlanta.”

Sept 2004 cover.jpgAnyone who knows Maddux understands the 38-year-old pitcher’s top baseball priority: the team.

About a month later, on Aug. 1, 2004, Maddux made his first attempt at becoming the 22nd pitcher in baseball history to record career win No. 300. Quiet and unassuming, Maddux has fashioned a Hall of Fame career underscored by understatement because that’s the way he likes it. As win No. 300 loomed, he said: “We’ve got more things to worry about besides No. 300. The post-season means more than my 300th win.”

Perhaps it was only fitting then, with Maddux on the cusp of baseball history, his news took a back seat. A day earlier, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had engineered a blockbuster trade bringing five-time All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra from Fenway Park to Wrigley Field. Even Garciaparra had to remind the media besieging him that there still was another story.

“I think [Maddux’s 300th] should be the focus of today, more than anything,” Garciaparra demurred. “I felt bad coming in. There’s a bigger issue here.”

And to anyone else, going for win No. 300 would’ve been a big issue.

To Maddux, it was just another game. “I’m just going to do what I do–go out and pitch and try not to get caught up in it.”