It should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the baseball offseason this year that Greg Maddux plans to announce his retirement on Monday. Maddux played for 23 seasons for the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres. He developed into the best pitcher in the National League while with the Cubs, who then infamously allowed Maddux to walk following his first Cy Young year (1992). He would go on to win three more consecutive Cy Young Awards with the Braves (four straight, all told), where he spent his "glory years" anchoring a Braves rotation of himself, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery that propelled Atlanta to something like 37 consecutive division titles, before eventually returning to Chicago in 2004 for a farewell tour. After two-and-a-half more years with the Cubs, Maddux split time with the Dodgers and Padres before deciding it was time to move on.
Although I have no doubt that the pundits will spend the next century or so debating whether it was Greg Maddux or Roger Clemens who was the greatest pitcher of their generation, one thing that isn't debatable is Maddux's Hall of Fame candidacy. Greg Maddux will enter Cooperstown in five years, and when he does, he may well do so with the highest percentage of the vote in the Hall of Fame's history (Tom Seaver's 98.8% is the current record).
Many people will write many tributes to Maddux in the coming days, and so I will not belabor this post. But although my team was shortsighted enough to let a great ballplayer (and character) like Maddux walk away, there will always be a special place in the hearts of many, many Cubs fans (this one included) for the Mad Dog.
Godspeed, Mr. Maddux.