Hey, it's Hall of Fame weekend, so you're not getting away with just one article about it.
I knew to most people who follow baseball, they see Greg Maddux as an Atlanta Brave. It's where he really skyrocketed to his most national fame, winning three Cy Young awards, winning a Word Series, and winning most of his games. He ended up, by the way, with 355 wins -- the eighth most in the history of the game. (In fact, the second most wins in what would be considered the modern era, only a mere eight wins fewer than Warren Spahn.)
But whatever most of the baseball world thinks, to Chicagoans Greg Maddux is a Chicago Cub. It's where he began his career, where he won his first Cy Young Award and won 133 games. He spent the first seven years of his career with the Cubs. And it's where he probably would have spent his entire career, if it wasn't for the Cubs being oh-so-stupid. Basically, when Maddux was in the last year of his contract, the Cubs made him a "take it or leave it" offer. It still stings.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune wrote about it the other day here.
Former general manager Larry Himes told the Tribune in January: "Looking back, you always can say I could have approached Tribune Co. for a few extra bucks. But I didn't think I should. I thought we had enough money on the table."
But this isn't all second-guessing, hyperbole, or wishful thinking. There's the reality of what Greg Maddux did after the fact. Not just that he made the decision to return to the Cubs at the end of his career, but what he did when he was elected to the Hall of Fame.
When a player is voted into the Hall, and if he played on more than one team. he's allowed to select what team cap will be on his plaque. Clearly, most everyone assumed Greg Maddux with pick the Atlanta Braves. But Maddux, who spent a career surprising batters, surprised everyone. As Mark Bowman wrote for MLB.com --
"Maddux notched 194 of his 355 career victories while wearing a Braves uniform. But he never lost touch with the appreciation he has always had for the Cubs. Thus instead of slighting one fan base, Maddux will be inducted into the Hall of Fame today as neither a Brave nor a Cub. He will simply stand as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history."
But don't simply take his word for it, or take my biased diehard Cubs fan-word for it. Just listen to Greg Maddux himself --
"I thought I would probably retire [in Chicago]," Maddux said. "Things change over time. It was nice going back there. I was received very well there. I loved the city, loved the team and loved the location. I love Wrigley [Field]. I liked the weather, believe it or not. It's nice having different weather. There were just so many good things about Chicago. To be able to go back there was a bonus."
Greg Maddux was elected with an amazing 97.2 percent of the vote, one of the highest in history. Most people think of him as an Atlanta Brave. But Greg Maddux and I have another opinion on that.
The Chicago Cubs famously haven't won a World Series in 108 years. Over the past century, people have debated the many possible reasons. But what they overlook is that decisions like letting Greg Maddux leave is high on the list...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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