May 12, 2008

Maddux becomes ninth pitcher in MLB history to reach 350 wins: Greg Maddux reached another milestone in his long, brilliant career. It might have meant more to a catcher making his big-league debut than it did to the pitcher with Hall of Fame credentials.

posted by BornIcon to baseball at 07:35 AM - 30 comments

Well, congratulations to him, not just because he may be the last pitcher any of us see reach the 350-win mark, but also, hey, a happy Maddux means maybe a little less killin'.

posted by chicobangs at 08:56 AM on May 12, 2008

Maddux has been such a dominating force in pitching, and has done so in such a quiet fashion. As time passes, those who haven't had much appreciation for his staggering ability will realize just what they missed. Or they had better. And chico, I have to disagree. I think this achievement will only serve to fuel his bloodlust.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:45 AM on May 12, 2008

I hope for the sake of Hobo Nation that you're wrong, but you have brought back the fear to me. So, y'know, thanks for that. If anyone needs me, I'll be in my bunker.

posted by chicobangs at 11:23 AM on May 12, 2008

Maddux becomes the third pitcher with 350+ wins and 3000+ strikeouts, but the first one with 350+ wins and 3000+ hooker slayings.

posted by grum@work at 11:52 AM on May 12, 2008

Congrats to Greg Maddux on winning his 350th game....but did he really need to take out the entire prostitute population in Colorado, afterwards to celebrate?

posted by BornIcon at 12:02 PM on May 12, 2008

The guy is one of the greatest pitchers in history and we can't have a thread without a mention of hooker slayings. Has this joke not run its course? It's like people running around yelling, "Where's the beef?"

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:17 PM on May 12, 2008

The guy is one of the greatest pitchers in history and we can't have a thread without a mention of hooker slayings. Mr. chicobangs also mentioned hobos.

posted by THX-1138 at 12:42 PM on May 12, 2008

We dare not call it 'hooker slayings' when it comes to Greg Maddux, we use the term 'dissatisfied customer'.

posted by BornIcon at 12:53 PM on May 12, 2008

And now that you mention it, where is the beef, anyway? Because this doesn't taste like any beef I've ever had. In fact, this looks like... the liver of a rookie catcher, fresh from the minors; slightly road-worn, but still tender. Maddux might be a rampaging serial killer in the witching hours, but by gum he sure can put together a fine spread. Hey, anyone need more chianti?

posted by chicobangs at 01:18 PM on May 12, 2008

Congrats to Maddux. All jokes aside, the guy has been a class act and representative of the game for a hell of a long time. And he proves without a doubt that pitching is more about skill than just blasting 95mph fastballs. Nice work on a hard-earned milestone.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:27 PM on May 12, 2008

Too bad he's with the Padres, or he probably would have arrived a fair bit sooner. Five tries to get this win.

posted by opel70 at 01:49 PM on May 12, 2008

And now that you mention it, where is the beef, anyway? Apparently, according to my market analysis, it has moved to Arby's. Greg Maddux is still one of the finest pitchers in the majors. We have all been fortunate to see him play the game. As a matter of fact, the only way I see him fading from the upper echelons of baseball's premier pitchers is if he was to be traded to the Mariners. That way he could lose games by the score of 2-0. (Sorry. A little homer frustration there.) The positives of such a move for Maddux is that there is a set of train tracks right outside Safeco that has trains running during the games.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:01 PM on May 12, 2008

there is a set of train tracks right outside Safeco that has trains running during the games No hobo would be safe during the 7th inning stretch.

posted by irunfromclones at 02:07 PM on May 12, 2008

The guy is one of the greatest pitchers in history and we can't have a thread without a mention of hooker slayings. Well, if he'd just stop killing them, we'd stop talking about it.

posted by grum@work at 03:58 PM on May 12, 2008

As I hear it, Greg has moved on from hookers to first born males ...just a rumor however. His obscene God complex is a fearsome thing to behold. Oh, BRB someone's knocking at the door.....

posted by Sprdave32 at 05:44 PM on May 12, 2008

And now that you mention it, where is the beef, anyway? I understand there's a clause in Greg Maddux's contract requiring finger sandwiches for the post-game spread in the clubhouse. Don't eat that one; it has a nail in it!

posted by Howard_T at 08:48 AM on May 13, 2008

Heh... you know, Clemens must be stewing that he isn't playing right now; when Clemens last played, he looked like he would retire with the most wins of any pitcher in decades, and more K's than anyone besides his hero, Nolan Ryan. Yet Maddux is going to easily nab his 355th win this year, and Randy Johnson is 5 or so starts from passing him on the K list. Since I suspect Maddux and Johnson are in their last seasons (Maddux has hinted as much, although Johnson may get enough starts that even with a mediocre year he'll be close enough to 300 wins he'll try to get to that total in 2009), I wouldn't be remotely surprised if Clemens hooks on with some team in 2009, refreshed after a season off, and puts up a 10+ win season to close things out and regain the wins and strikeouts leads over Maddux and Johnson. Maddux, Clemens, and Johnson are all automatic first ballot HoFers- possibly all on the same ballot- and we were lucky to see three of the greatest pitchers in history working in the same era. Anyone leaving them off their ballots should be respectfully removed from HoF voting by the esteemed Hall. The only debate is which one is best: Clemens is probably the greatest by most every statistical standard (wins, strikeouts, ERA, and Cy Young awards), but Maddux has being quietly solid for the longest and spectacular during his 4 year Cy Young run. Johnson is the most dominating when he's on, also having 4-straight Cy wins. It's like a continuum from control to power as a way of winning: Maddux has the pinpoint control, Johnson the blazing speed, and Clemens is a balance of the two. In any case, congratulations to Maddux for reaching a milestone: he is inarguably one of the three best pitchers of the last 3 decades (but for staying healthy, we'd be putting Pedro Martinez' name in that mix), and I'd suggest in the top 5 greatest pitchers of all time.

posted by hincandenza at 08:26 PM on May 13, 2008

Really, Hal? I agree that Maddux has had the greatest top-to-bottom career of any pitcher of my lifetime, but which of Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson, Nolan Ryan or Dave Stieb are you putting him ahead of on that all-time list? Okay, who else?

posted by chicobangs at 12:19 AM on May 14, 2008

Walter Johnson, Cy Young, and Christy Mathewson played in different eras: statistically, Walter Johnson is probably the best pitcher of all time. However, you can't really compare pitching in that era with pitching in the last 30 years, with all the changes in the game, the players, the level and quality of scouting and depth, etc. I've heard it said that analysis of rare footage suggests that despite the presumption that he was a 100mph+ pitcher, "Big Train" really only threw 85mph, tops; it's just that to the booze-addled illiterates that made up the all-white, US-only majors in those days 85mph was enough to get their Kruk-ian softball-league asses out. :) Mathewson was an anomaly simply because who heard of a college boy playing the rough game of baseball?! Well, God doesn't put less lightning bolts into the arms of Bucknell boys as he does into the Dalkowskis and Nuke Lalooshes; but in the early part of the century, those latent talents didn't even play the game, or if they did knew better than to slave away for Comiskey as opposed to having an actual income as an educated professional. Nowadays, the sons of doctors and lawyers that hit 70mph+ in little league are already dreaming of the millions they'll make in the majors. it's the same reason I say Barry Bonds, BALCO and all, is possibly the greatest hitter that ever lived: his numbers are gaudy against the best pitching in history. Yes, Ruth looks great- on paper. Probably an All-Star if he was born in the modern era, where he would have replaced booze and women with macrobiotic diets, strength condition... and well yes, women. But baseball in 1920 wasn't even the established, every- kid- plays- in- their- youth game it was for the second half of the century. If the money/glory is there, and everyone plays the game, you find talent that was missed. The minor leagues offer players a chance to develop before hitting the bigs, which further improves the level of the big leagues; in today's game Phil Rizzuto wouldn't have had more than a cup of coffee, much less a friggin' plaque (goddamn veteran voters!!!). Sandy Koufax was great- for a short time. He only played 12 seasons total, barely qualifying for the HoF! He, like Martinez, was insanely good for a short period, but "GOAT" implies some element of longevity. Clemens won the Cy Young/MVP in 86... and then again in 2004. Nolan Ryan leads in strikeouts and no-hitters... but was mediocre in every other respect, finishing barely over .500 for his career. Someone that one-dimensional can't be considered for GOAT. As for Dave Stieb... is this your way of suggestion that tahoemoj is your sock puppet account? :) So yes... I'd say that no pitcher in baseball history can lay easy claim to being better than Maddux, Clemens, and possibly Randy Johnson. You can try to justify some others, but I just think it doesn't hold water; sadly, we don't have a good era-to-era metric the way we can compare performace in different home ballparks, etc. Walter Johnson and Cy Young have the sheer numbers, but that's like saying that some guy hitting .440 in 1894 is by definition the greatest hitter in history (and I'll bet almost no Spofite could have named Hugh Duffy from memory). Well, no... hitting .440 then is like hitting .440 today... in double A ball.

posted by hincandenza at 04:15 AM on May 14, 2008

Or to put it another way: we are just barely beginning to tap the pool of potential talent that exists in two nations (China and India) that comprise 2 in 5 of all people on earth. Do you really think that, if he'd grown up in a different environment, the best cricket player in India wouldn't be an 8-figure-a-year star in MLB? Did the Creator decide that baseball talent would only land in America...? Or that when Ruth never faced Satchel Paige or battled Josh Gibson for the HR crown, we should hold his accomplishments in the same regard? Well, considering that something like 12% of the MLB is from the Dominican Republic, a poverty-ridden nation 1/30th the population of the US... then no, I don't suppose one can compare 1910's or 1920's baseball to today. And if some Chinese pitcher comes even close to matching Clemens' accomplishments over the next 30 years, when the game penetrates that nation and every schoolkid has taken time to kick around a soccer ball, shoot a few hoops, and decides to put on his cleats and play baseball for a living... then yes, that unnamed Chinese player will be better than Clemens, because he will have excelled from a pool of 7 billion, and not just 300 million...

posted by hincandenza at 04:24 AM on May 14, 2008

It's true that if Walter Johnson were around today, he'd probably be good for 10 wins and 100 strikeouts a year. But that would partly be because he'd be about 120 years old.

posted by chicobangs at 09:14 AM on May 14, 2008

Yes, but would The Street People whisper Walter Johnson's name in hushed, fearful tones, genuflecting feverishly as they run for the warmth, and hopefully, safety, of the local shelter? I think not.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 09:19 AM on May 14, 2008

What the hell? Chico seems like a good guy and all that, but I'm no man's sock puppet! not unless they convict me again!

posted by tahoemoj at 01:16 PM on May 14, 2008

And tahoe seems like a decent chap, but I ain't sticking my hand up anyone's access pipe. Unless, of course, they pay me my regular hourly rate.

posted by chicobangs at 01:30 PM on May 14, 2008

I was kidding about the sock puppet- I couldn't figure out why you'd throw Dave Stieb's name in that collection of HoFers, except the fact that tahoemoj mentioned in the Ankiel thread that he played Scruffy Old Man's Softball League with Stieb. So... on a serious note, do you guys really just not grasp what I'm trying to say, or do you agree but discount it in the same though? Namely, that drastically weaker pools of talent in 1900-1920 meant that the accomplishments of players then, whatever real talent they had, has to be seriously discounted? That when a major leaguer does a rehab stint in the minors and hits .480, you don't consider him to be twice the hitter of Ruth in his prime? That for example there's a big difference between being the smartest kid in your high school, and being at the top of your class at MIT, and say being a three-time Nobel laureate in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine? Johnson pitched against mostly players who wouldn't have the talent to be AA players in today's game, because the lack of black players, the lack of international scouting and development, and the social climate that prevented baseball- or sports in general- from being seen as a potentially richly rewarding career choice meant that even those players who would be All-Stars today got to play against significantly weaker opposition. Most every late-inning at-bat that Ruth had- maybe 1 in 5 at-bats- was against a tired starting pitcher as opposed to a fresh, fireballing specialist like Hoffman or Papelbon. Think that doesn't boost your average more than "the clear"? Baseball, due to its rich contracts and signing bonuses as well as its relatively longevity and lack of physical risk, still is the most beckoning sport for any super-talented young athlete in the country today. In a nation of 300 million people, there may be almost none who don't know that professional athletes are incredibly rich. Which means to lead the AL in homeruns today, you have to out-swat not just a bunch of former pickpockets and drunken roustabouts, but the most conditioned, hardest working, naturally gifted people the western hemisphere could churn out. You have to hit the ball against the 150 fastest throwing, most accurate pitchers that could be found in half the globe. There were likely farmboys a-plenty in 1920 who would have, with practice and exposure, thrown far faster than Walter Johnson, but many never even touched a baseball. Today, there is probably almost no child in this country who didn't at least play a little sports as a child- even in gym class- where natural talent would have encouraged more playing, and developing, and if by the age of 11 or 12 they were hurting their father's hands with their fastball, they'd be even more targeted for focused development and training and assistance, and their own motivation to succeed knowing that even the son of millionaires would still want to be a major league baseball player if they had the ability. The fishing net of baseball talent today has a very fine mesh compared to what existed in 1920.

posted by hincandenza at 12:53 AM on May 15, 2008

How'd you know I'm scruffy? I see your point there. As the talent pool grows ever larger, the standout players must stand out from a much larger, more talented crowd. Simply, to be the best among ten is not quite as impressive as being the best among ten thousand. As the game evolves and the talent pool grows to remarkable proportions compared to the early days, one must take account when discussing achievement. I think you made a great point.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:52 PM on May 15, 2008

Thanks! I didn't mean to be pedantic, but yeah- you said in a few words what took me many paragraphs, and I why I'd consider Maddux- along with Clemens and possibly Randy Johnson- to be, in the absolute measurement, a better pitcher than Walter Johnson or Cy Young. But ain't no one better than the Stieb.

posted by hincandenza at 07:04 PM on May 15, 2008

why I'd consider Maddux- along with Clemens and possibly Randy Johnson- to be, in the absolute measurement, a better pitcher than Walter Johnson or Cy Young. When Maddux won his Xth Cy Young award, one columnist asked if Cy Young would have won any Greg Maddux awards. That said, I still think that Walter Johnson is in the discussion for top 3 pitchers of all time. Randy Johnson was unhittable after he got his control, but Clemens, Maddux and even Pedro Martinez were untouchable almost from day one. (OPS+) Big Unit's first four full seasons: 82, 108, 103, 105 Clemens: 97, 131, 169, 154 Maddux: 76, 114, 128, 119 Pedro: 147, 125, 123, 117 Big Train: 129, 139, 109, 183 Cy Young: 99, 121, 176, 145 Oh, and Mr. Blue Jay: 100, 117, 124, 138

posted by grum@work at 08:05 PM on May 15, 2008

I'm assuming that's ERA+ and not OPS+ for them or OPS+ against.

posted by yerfatma at 07:11 AM on May 16, 2008

Interesting point about Randy. I almost posted in that Kershaw thread about how Koufax is overrated because- while not his fault, really- because once he got his control Johnson was as good or even a better pitcher than Koufax. However, looking at it, Koufax started pitching at 19, and wasn't a .500+ pitcher for a few years; yet Johnson didn't even start pitching in the majors until he was 24, and didn't have his first really good season till about 29/30- around the same age that Koufax retired! So maybe Randy has a weaker claim to the "GOAT" top 3/5/N, for the reason that he has had a Koufax-besting 10 years... with some weak and erratic years book ending that. Clemens was good on his very first pitch, and an All-Star/Cy Young/MVP in his third year at 24 I think. And Pedro was putting up a 147 in his first year, and had some high 200's- even 291, which NONE of the other pitcher have topped. They're all averaging over their careers about 130-135 in ERA+, while Clemens is 145 and Pedro is still 160- which is like averaging Clemens' 1986 season your whole career! I think what with the weak last few years he's had, I may have seriously underrated Pedro Martinez when you look at his whole career. Pound for pound, he might be the greatest pitcher of all time, and given how good he has been- only weak the last couple of years, really- he probably deserves top 10 status easily. So other than Young and Johnson as our early century representatives, and Maddux/Clemens/Johnson/Martinez for the last half-century, is there any other name that even comes to mind? I've noticed no one even mentions Ryan, or Seaver, or even Spahn.

posted by hincandenza at 05:48 PM on May 16, 2008

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