Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Welcome Back to the Blue, Greg Maddux!

The mad professor is back.

And by "MAD" I mean he's one crazy crazy dude.  And by "Professor" I mean he's probably the smartest pitcher to ever play the game.

Yesterday afternoon the Dodgers announced that they have hired Hall of Famer Greg Maddux as an Special Assistant to the Dodgers’ President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and the entire Baseball Operations Department.  In other words, he'll be tasked with imparting whatever knowledge he has about the game - which I assure you is a lot.  BTW, they also announced at the same time the hiring of recently retired slugger Raul Ibanez, and I'll have an additional post focused on him shortly.  In the meantime, let's talk about Greg Maddux.

Late last year it was reported by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that Maddux was very likely headed our way, so this news is hardly unexpected.  After all, he lives in Las Vegas and prefers, like most folks, to be closer to home.
Greg Maddux is expected to join a West Coast team — likely the Dodgers — as a part-time special assistant. Maddux said he doesn’t want a full-time coaching career. His son, Chase, is a freshman pitcher at UNLV and Maddux wants to spend time watching his games. He also enjoys traveling with his family.

“I enjoy working with pitchers,” Greg Maddux said. “If there’s something I can do to help a young guy think about the game more and what he’s throwing and why he’s throwing it, I can help like that.”
That last part isn't surprising.  Maddux has always been regarded as a fantastic teacher.  Per a story passed along by Eric Stephen at True Blue LA:
Maddux pitched for the Dodgers in 2006 and 2008, and made a huge impression in planing sessions with pitchers and catchers, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times recalled in 2014:
Maddux ended his career throwing an 83-mph fastball, yet he could devise a successful game plan for pitchers with the big-time fastball and monster curve he never had.
Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti recalled Maddux basically taking over scouting meetings and providing each pitcher with a custom plan to approach opposing hitters. Colletti watched in admiration as starting pitchers, generally creatures of silence on game day, sat with Maddux in the dugout and asked for help with that day's lineup.
"He's the smartest pitcher I've ever been around," Colletti said. "To me, he borders on a baseball genius. You knew you'd only see one or two guys like that in your whole life."
That's about right.  Even with less than stellar stuff, Greg Maddux could still win games by being smarter than everybody else on the field.  Heck, his knowledge lead to a kind of prescience that was otherworldly.  I've read story after story about how he could predict the exact sequence of events during any inning - from pitch selection to whether the batter swung and made contact to the exact location the ball went after being struck.  It didn't matter if he was on the mound or if he was sitting in the dugout, he just knew.  Via Verducci in an SI piece (as recounted on Deadspin):
Once while seated in the Braves' dugout as third baseman Jose Hernandez batted for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Maddux blurted out, "Watch this. The first base coach may be going to the hospital." On the next pitch Hernandez drilled a line drive off the chest of the first base coach.

Another time Atlanta manager Bobby Cox visited Maddux on the mound with runners on second and third and two outs. Cox suggested an intentional walk.

"Don't worry," said Maddux, who then spelled out to Cox the sequence of his next three pitches: "And on the last pitch I'm going to get him to pop up foul to third base." Maddux proceeded to escape the jam on his third pitch—getting a pop-up to third base that was a foot or two from being foul.
This guy will be a huge asset, and I feel better knowing he'll be helping out the pitching staff.  On the other hand, we might be approaching a level of grossness within the clubhouse not seen since... well... since he last played for us.  According to many sources, Greg Maddux may very well be the most disgusting person ever elected into the Hall of Fame.  Just get a load of some of these stories.

Via Todd Dewey at the Las Vegas-Review Journal:
"Oh, I've got a few (Maddux stories) but I don't think they're fit for print," San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "But he was certainly a prankster and a lot of fun.

"All I can tell you is 'don't eat the chili.' I can't go any further than that. (Maddux put) foreign objects in the chili."
Maddux, known to belch or pass gas during locker-room interviews, also was "a master of strategically timed nose picking and sidling up to an unsuspecting rookie in the shower and urinating on the kid's leg," it was reported last year in an article on

"I call him 'The Silent Scumbag,' " Wells said in the story. "You would perceive him to be Einstein because he's quiet and he's always sitting there at his locker with a crossword puzzle. But he's got a silent sickness to him. ... Those quiet guys are the ones you have to watch out for."
Via Larry Brown Sports:
I could tell you about how he (allegedly) urinated in the hot tub when he was a young Cubs pitcher, that story told to me years ago by Andre Dawson, who was in the big tub with a couple of other Cubs veterans when young Maddux informed them that he’d relieved himself in it a few minutes earlier.
On second thought, maybe we shouldn't let him in the clubhouse.

In celebration of his return to the Dodgers I made the above two fantasy cards of him.  I used a photograph taken from the Lantern/MCT and the 1972 Topps Baseball card design. 

Per a Dodgers press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced the hiring of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux and 19-year big league veteran Raul Ibañez as Special Assistants to the Dodgers’ President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and the entire Baseball Operations Department.

In their roles, Maddux and Ibañez will assist in all aspects of baseball operations, including scouting, player development and working with the club’s players, both at the Major and minor league levels.

Maddux, 49, pitched in 23 big league seasons with the Cubs (1986-92, 2004-06), Braves (1993-2003), Dodgers (2006, ’08) and Padres (2007-08), compiling a 355-227 record with a 3.16 ERA in 744 games (740 starts). The four-time National League Cy Young Award winner, eight-time All-Star and 18-time Gold Glover retired with the eighth-most all-time wins and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, his first year on the ballot, with 97.2% of the vote. Following his playing career, Maddux joined the Cubs’ front office in 2010 as an assistant to general manager Jim Hendry before spending four seasons in the Rangers’ organization (2012-15), where his brother Mike was the pitching coach, as a Special Assistant to General Manager Jon Daniels. He also served as the pitching coach for Team USA during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

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