Tag Archives: MLB

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME EXTRA BASEBALL?

Hell Yeah.

 
Who’s going to win tonight’s Game 163 – Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay Rays?
 
Martin Perez is going for the Rangers, and has faced the Rays once, tossing 5 IP, 7 H, 2 R. 
 
Meanwhile, David Price is 1-4 in 8 career starts against the Rangers with an ERA of nearly 6.00. He didn’t face the Rangers this season.
 
The Rays have a pretty good bullpen, but the Rangers ‘pen has 3 guys with sub-2.00 ERAs and the highest ERA of the ‘pen regulars is 3.03. 
 
I think pitching always wins, but there is another factor.
 
The Rangers activated Nelson Cruz, who hasn’t faced MLB pitching since August 4th when he was suspended for being a cheating bastard. He owns David Price, but I think if he’s in the starting lineup, he’ll be chewed up by Price due to the layoff. I think Martin Perez will get knocked around a bit, because he’s 22 years old, hasn’t pitched in a game like this, and youth rarely beats experience.
 
Between Perez and Cruz, I think the Rangers are overmatched.
 
So, I think the Rays win this because they have a capable bullpen(though not as good as the Rangers), and I think they score early to set the pace. 
 
Starting Cruz is a mistake.
 
Of course, when he hits 3 homers and smashes the Rays, you’ll all have to pretend I never posted this.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Steroids

I actually wrote this after Alex Rodriguez came out and admitted using performance enhancing drugs. I think it still rings true, and thought it might be appropriate to bring back on the day Andre Dawson joined the ranks of the greatest ever. Whether Andre Dawson is or isn’t actually deserving of the Hall of Fame, is a whole different blog entry that I’ll address soon enough! I figure he should have his day in the sun without anyone soiling it. Speaking of soiling baseball…

Pete Rose isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but you’d be hard pressed to find a baseball fan who doesn’t know who he is. Until someone passes him as the all-time hits leader, Pete Rose will probably be more recognizable than some of the folks who are in the Hall of Fame.

Pete Rose may have jeopardized his teams wins because of betting. We can speculate and guess, but one this is for sure; Pete Rose’s respect and integrity for the game of baseball without a doubt is questionable. He was caught, and deserves the punishment he’s gotten.

I’ve read that some other HoF’ers were suspected of gambling or betting, but were never found to be guilty. They weren’t found to be guilty. They got away with it. WTF can ya do. You can only punish the ones who get caught. Whoever gets caught should be punished the highest degree, to deter someone else from even trying it.

No player linked to steroids and/or illegal PEDs of any sort should be in the Hall of Fame. No Bonds, Big Mac, Sosa, Clemens, Rodriguez, Pettitte, any of the 104 listed. By taking steroids, they took away their respect for the game, they took away the integrity of records. They lose. If it came out that Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Jeff Kent, and God knows who else tested positive, I don’t believe they should be in the Hall of Fame.

If it came out tomorrow that Rickey Henderson is within the list of 104 players, I would want him removed from the Hall of Fame. Same with anyone else.

You should not win. Just because it’s rampant, doesn’t mean it’s OK. It shouldn’t be taken into context for the era. It’s SIMPLE. Steroids = No Hall of Fame.

If it isn’t that way, then baseball has lost the war on PEDs.

When Alex Rodriguez came out with the admission to using PEDs, Curt Schilling chimed in on his blog..and I took exception to what he said about ARod ‘manning up’.

In the interview A-Rod addressed the pressure of his contract, the culture of the Texas Rangers clubhouse, and he didn’t say anything after allegedly deciding to stop in the spring of 2003.

If A-Rod really were to ‘man up’, he would’ve come out in February of ’03, and made every effort then to be a man about his errors. Instead, he said nothing, and continued to lie about it even years after he allegedly stopped using PEDs.

If ARod wants to man up, he’ll give up his ’03 MVP to Carlos Delgado, and start showing up in the anti-steroid ads you see all over the MLBN. What’s going to happen? Nothing. I doubt we will see him making speeches about the mistakes of his ways, I doubt we see any major contribution to the anti-steroid campaign.

When we look back at this in 20 years, athletes who want to sacrifice their body for an edge will look to the success, the millions, and freedom from punishment that ARod will experience as the rationale that it is okay to do it. Who cares if your body is messed up when you’re old? If it means you can earn millions, maybe it’s worth it. It worked for Alex.

Barry Bonds, Major League Outfielder

This is a biography originally written for a baseball website, but before any contracts were signed, they decided to go in a different direction creatively. So, I was left with a really long biography that reads like a wikipedia page. Feel free to critique this article, or praise it, or whatever. It’s here because otherwise it wouldn’t see the light of day.

Barry Bonds will go down in history as one of the most prolific ballplayers to ever play Major League Baseball. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1985, he tore through the minor leagues and made the Pirates’ decision to promote him easy. His first career hit came on April 20th, 1986 in the 17th inning of a game versus the Chicago Cubs. His hit, coupled with an error, ended the 6 hour stalemate and the Pirates went on to beat the Cubs.

Despite finishing 6th in the Rookie of The Year honors, Bonds led all National League rookies in home runs, runs batted in, walks and stolen bases. During his first several seasons in the big leagues, Bonds gradually improved his numbers, and his walks began piling up as he learned to maneuver the strike zone. By 1989, he had nearly as many walks as he did runs scored.

1990 was a breakout season for Barry Bonds, as he collected his first of 14 subsequent All-Star nods and the first of seven Most Valuable Player Awards. In addition to reaching the level of being a 30 homer, 100 RBI player, he reached the .300 mark for his batting average for the first time. He led the league in slugging and OPS to win the Silver Slugger, and completed the award sweep with a Gold Glove. A slight drop in offensive numbers in 1991 prevented Bonds from a repeat performance as he finished second in the NL MVP voting to Terry Pendleton, of the eventual NL Pennant winners the Atlanta Braves. However, 1991 was a resounding success overall, as Bonds kept his power pace and was undoubtedly considered among the best players in all of baseball.

Barry Bonds had another stellar season in 1992 as he lead the league in runs scored and walks while hitting .311. His power numbers were reflected in leading the league in Slugging Percentage,On-Base Percentage and OPS. He captured his second Most Valuable Player award as the Pittsburgh Pirates reached the National League Championship Series for the third straight season. After two lackluster playoff performances from Bonds, he responded in 1992 by hitting .262 against the Atlanta Braves and slugged his first career postseason home run.

The 1992 NLCS ended on a play that involved Barry Bonds, and would serve as his final play as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Facing an 0-2 deficit in the bottom of the 9th inning in game 7, the Braves mounted a comeback against Pirates starter Doug Drabek. After loading the bases on a pair of hits and an error, Stan Belinda was called upon to stop any further bleeding. Belinda allowed a walk between the first two outs of the inning before facing utility player Francisco Cabrera, who had played in just 12 games during the 1992 season. With the bases loaded, Cabrera hit a line drive to Barry Bonds in left. Bonds fielded the ball and made a throw home that arrived just late of Sid Bream scoring the winning run.

During the 1992 off-season, Bonds signed a record breaking deal with the San Francisco Giants worth $43.75 million over 6 years. The most lucrative deal in baseball history also brought Bonds to the team that both his father and godfather had spent the majority of their careers. Bonds wore number 25 with the Giants since 24, the number he wore as a member of the Pirates, was retired by the Giants to honor Willie Mays.

Bonds played up to his contract hype immediately, when he led the National League in home runs for the first time in his career with 46. He also set his own new career highs in almost every offensive categories en route to his first back-to-back MVP seasons. It was the fourth straight season that he won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Despite leading his team and the league in most offensive categories, Bonds’ 1993 Giants failed to make the playoffs with a 103 win season. The Giants and Atlanta Braves were in the middle of one of the greatest pennant races in history, which the Braves won with a 104 win season.

During the strike shorted 1994 and 1995 seasons, Barry Bonds slugged 70 homers and hit .302 over 256 games. He was named to the All-Star team in 1994 and led the league in OPS, but saw a slight decline overall in his power numbers. Following the strike shortened 1995 season, Bonds returned to his usual offensive numbers entering his 30’s. In 1996, Barry Bonds became just the second player in Major League Baseball history to join the elusive 40 / 40 Club, which Jose Canseco became the first member of in 1988 when he stole 40 bases and slugged 40 home runs.1996 was a historic year for Bonds, as he became fourth member of the 300 / 300 Club when he stole his 300th stolen base and slugged his 300th home run. He joined his father Bobby Bonds, his godfather, Willie Mays and Andre Dawson in the exclusive club. Within two years, he established the 400 / 400 Club with his 400th stolen base and 400th home run, and tied his father with his fifth 30 / 30 season. In each of the two seasons following the strike year, Bonds ranked 5th in National League MVP voting.

Around the same time Barry Bonds joined the 40 / 40 Club, the great Home Run Chase was beginning to grip baseball as the league attempted to recover from the eighth work stoppage in history that saw the 1994 postseason wiped out for the first time since 1904. Coming off a few injury plagued seasons that slowed the early promise of his rookie year’s 49 homer season, Mark McGwire followed up his 39 home runs during the strike-shortened 1995 campaign with a league leading 52 home runs in 1996. The most home runs by any player since George Foster’s 52 homer campaign in 1977 was quickly surpassed by McGwire in 1997 when he slugged 58 home runs while playing with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals. The 1998 season turned out an incredible race between Mark McGwire and Chicago Cubs’ slugger Sammy Sosa towards the single season record of 61, held by Roger Maris for the previous 37 years. Ken Griffey Jr. came closest prior to the 1998 season with a 56 home run season in 1997.

As the home run record was being chased by McGwire and Sosa, Barry Bonds’ numbers slipped slightly. His home runs total of 71 from the 1998 and 1999 seasons nearly equaled McGwire’s record setting 70 homers during the 1998 season. Despite the perceived power loss, Bonds managed to slug 34 homers in just 102 games during the 1999 season. As Bonds’ 1999 season was shortened due to injuries, it was also the last season where Bonds swiped at least 15 bases in a season. The following year, Barry Bonds made a full recovery from his injuries, and at the age of 35 years slugged a career best 49 home runs. Though he trailed Sammy Sosa’s 50 home runs for the league lead, Bonds finished 2nd in voting for Most Valuable Player., his highest finish in MVP voting since winning his last MVP award in 1993.

Barry Bonds’ 2001 season is among the greatest offensive seasons of all time. In addition to shattering his own personal bests, Bonds set new single season records in slugging percentage(.853) thanks in part to setting a new record for the most walks in a single season with 177 free passes. He smacked 39 home runs before the All-Star break, the most ever hit in the first half of any season, en route to his record breaking 73 home runs for the season. Bonds’ on-base percentage of .515 had not been achieved by any player in the previous 40 seasons. He received 98% of the MVP votes over second place Sammy Sosa and his 64 home runs, securing his fourth Most Valuable Player Award and first since the 1993 season.

Though Barry Bonds set the single season home run record in 2001, and had previously won the MVP award four times, his offensive output between the 2002-2004 seasons are easily the greatest numbers of his career. Simply put, those seasons are among the greatest of all time. By the end of this era, Bonds was the player with the most MVP awards in history, and the only player to ever win four consecutive MVP awards. Bonds had a batting average of .358 between 2002-2004, winning the batting title in 2002 and 2004. He had an on-base percentage of .575 and a slugging percentage of .786 over the three season span. These staggering numbers are coupled with the fact that Bonds was walked 578 times in 420 games over three seasons, of which 249 were intentional walks. This stretch included the closest Barry Bonds would get to winning a World Series title with the San Francisco Giants. During the 2002 postseason Bonds slugged 8 home runs, including four against the Anaheim Angels while hitting .471 in the World Series. Despite his heroics, the Giants lost the series in 7 games. Though the Giants reached the postseason in 2003, they were quickly eliminated in the National League Division Series by the eventual World Series champion Florida Marlins.

During the height of Bonds’ success in the 2000’s, he also came under great scrutiny due to an investigation into the company which his personal trainer was involved. Greg Anderson of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative faced federal indictment when their investigation revealed the organization may have supplied anabolic steroids to athletes. Bonds steadfastly denied any wrongdoing, and testified under oath that he used supplements known as “the cream” and “the clear”, and believed they were nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis.

Despite the growing media pressure and public outcry from the alleged steroid use, Bonds continued to perform at a high level when he won his seventh MVP award in 2004. The steroid scandal grew during the off-season, and did not let up when Bonds missed much of the 2005 season due to a knee injury and subsequent surgeries needed before being activated in September of that year. Even with a limited number of at bats, Bonds managed to slug 5 homers in just 15 at bats.

Prior to the start of the season, a book entitled “Game of Shadows”written by Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada was released and detailed the alleged steroid use by Barry Bonds. The book arguably played a critical role in the change of the public opinion on Bonds. Despite the previous injuries and the mounting pressure about steroids, the outfielder returned in 2006 and was able to play a full season, reaching several historic milestones. In addition to moving into second place all time by displacing Babe Ruth with his 715th home run, Bonds later broke Hank Aaron’s National League record of 733 home runs when he hit his 734th on September 23rd, 2006 in the Milwaukee, the same city where Hank Aaron had established his career. Despite hitting his fewest home runs in a season since 1991, Bonds still led the league in on-base percentage due to again leading the league in walks during 2006.

2007 was Barry Bonds’ final season, and he managed to improve his overall numbers by slugging 28 home runs and receiving 130 walks in 126 games. His final season saw a several home run droughts, and it wasn’t until August that he threatened to finally break the all-time record of 755 career home runs, held by Hank Aaron. Coincidently, Barry Bonds’ 756th home run came off Washington Nationals pitcher Michael Bacsik. Bacsik’s father, Mike Bacsik, had faced Hank Aaron soon after he hit his 755th home run.

In late September of that year, the San Francisco Giants announced that they would not re-sign Barry Bonds for the 2008 season, and in October he officially became a free agent. Despite his agent’s expected interest from many ballclubs, the all-time leader in home runs went unsigned for both the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Though he has not officially retired, Barry Bonds will be eligible for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame following the 2012 season.

Much of Barry Bonds’ story remains to be played out. While not on the field, the impending resolution of the BALCO scandal and eventual place he will take on the ballot for Hall of Fame consideration will undoubtedly gain as much interest to baseball fans as his illustrious career did.

Greg Maddux, Major League Pitcher

This is a biography originally written for a baseball website, but before any contracts were signed, they decided to go in a different direction creatively. So, I was left with a really long biography that reads like a wikipedia page. Feel free to critique this article, or praise it, or whatever. It’s here because otherwise it wouldn’t see the light of day.

Greg Maddux was born on April 14th, 1966, and is the younger brother of another former major league baseball player, Mike Maddux. Though his brother was drafted before him, he reached the major leagues just a few months after him. Born in Texas, Maddux spent some of his youth in Spain before attending high school in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The younger Maddux was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 2nd round of the 1984 draft, and after two seasons toiling in the lowest levels of the minor leagues powered his way through the minor leagues to reach the majors by 1986. After starting the season with the Single A Pittsfield Cubs, he compiled a 14-4 record between Pittsfield and Iowa before being called up to the big league club.

On September 2nd, 1986,  Maddux entered the bottom of the 17th inning of a tie game against the Houston Astros as a pinch runner. Failing to score, he came on to make his pitching debut in the top of the 18th inning, facing the bottom of the Astros’ batting order. After retiring Craig Reynolds on a groundball to second base, pinch hitter Billy Hatcher welcomed the 20 year old right hander to the major leagues with a home run that gave the Astros the lead they would not relinquish. However, the home run didn’t rattle Maddux. In his next outing, his first major league start, he threw a complete game victory over the Cincinnati Reds, his first of 109 eventual complete games.

As the youngest player in the major leagues in 1986, Maddux had a few ups and downs during his first season. With 14 losses to go along with 6 wins in 1987 that included a brief demotion to Triple A Iowa, his erratic success continued into his sophmore year. This includes his July 1st, 1987 start in which he threw a complete game 4 hit shutout against the Montreal Expos, and wound up finishing just three innings against the same team three weeks later.

Whatever changes “Mad Dog” Maddux made between 1987 and 1988 seemed to click. The 22 year old emerged as the ace of the Chicago Cubs, winning 18 games, with 9 complete games and 3 shutouts en route to his first of eight all-star nominations.

Maddux improved upon his 1987 campaign with a 19-12 season in 1988, for which he garnered a third place finish in the National League Cy Young Award voting and had his first taste of postseason baseball when he helped propel the Cubs to just their second division title ever, putting them in the playoffs against the San Francisco Giants. He failed spectacularly in his first career postseason start, allowing 8 runs on 8 hits in just four innings of work in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. Years later, he would claim that during a discussion at the mound prior to giving up a grand slam to Will Clark that Clark read his lips. As a result, Maddux made a point to always cover his mouth with his glove during meetings at the mound. The young righty struggled again in Game 4 of the NLCS, failing to get out of the fourth inning after giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks en route to a 6-4 loss and an eventual 4-1 series loss.

Though the Chicago Cubs slid to fourth place in 1990 and 1991 after their impressive push to the 1989 NLCS, Maddux continued to rise among the ranks as one of the best pitchers in the National League. In addition to winning 15 games in both 1990 and 1991, he earned the first two of his eventual eighteen Gold Glove Awards. During these seasons, he led the league in games started, and in 1991 led the league in innings pitched. Over the next five seasons, nobody would throw more innings than Greg “Mad Dog” Maddux.

The 1992 season was truly a benchmark going forward for the 26 year old starting pitcher as he registered a 2.18 ERA while racking up 268 innings pitched, more innings than any season in his career. He won 20 games for the first time en route to his first Cy Young Award, to go along with his second all-star nomination and his third Gold Glove Award. His incredible season also marked the end of his 7 year career in Chicago. Due to contract negotiations deteriorating between the Cubs and his agent Scott Boras, Maddux signed with the Atlanta Braves in December of 1992.

Coupled with 1992, the next four seasons of Maddux’s career were not only his greatest stretch, but it is easily among the greatest periods of pitching by anyone in Major League Baseball history. In addition to winning an unprecedented four straight National League Cy Young Awards, Maddux won 75 games while losing just 29 with an earned run average over the four year span than stood at 1.98. In addition to 37 complete games that included 11 shutouts, Maddux allowed just 746 hits in 946.2 innings of work. During this span, he also lowered his already incredible Walks/Hits Per Inning ratio from 1.011 to .811

The Maddux signing by the Atlanta Braves in the winter of 1992 proved to be one of the final pieces to a starting rotation that ranked among the best in all of baseball even before he joined the team. Maddux slid into a rotation that included 15 game winner Tom Glavine, 1991 Cy Young Award Winner and perennial 20 game winner John Smoltz, and a rising star in the left handed Steve Avery. In Maddux’s debut season in 1993, the foursome won a combined 75 games en route to their third straight NLCS birth.

In his first postseason start since his 1989 matchups against the San Francisco Giants, Maddux stifled the Philadelphia Phillies, limiting them to just 2 runs on 5 hits over seven innings in Game 2 of the 1993 NLCS. He did not have the same success in Game 6, the deciding game of the series. Unable to finish the sixth inning, he allowed 6 runs(5 earned), on 6 hits and 4 walks to lead the way to a 6-3 loss that pushed the Phillies into the 1993 World Series.

During the strike shortened 1994 season, Maddux led the league with 16 wins and an ERA of 1.56, the lowest of any pitcher since Dwight Gooden’s 1983 campaign that included a 1.53 earned run average. Coincidentally, 1994 was also his best season at the plate to date. His .222 batting average was higher, informally speaking, than his ERA of 1.56. In addition to his Cy Young and Gold Glove Awards, he finished 5th in voting for the National League Most Valuable Player.

At 29 years old, the four time Cy Young Award winner arguably had his best season in 1995, from the beginning to the very end. In addition to leading the league in victories, innings pitched, complete games, shutouts, and WHIP while sporting a 1.63 ERA, during the dog days of the 1995 summer he threw 51 innings between June and July without issuing a single walk. Maddux also rose to the occasion when the Atlanta Braves reached the 1995 postseason. In two starts against the Colorado Rockies in the National League Division Series, Maddux earned a victory in two starts limiting the Rockies offense to 7 runs in 14 innings. In his one NLCS start against the Cincinnati Reds he threw eight innings of 1 run ball as the Atlanta Braves swept the Reds in four straight games. Though he lost game 5 of the 1995 World Series, he started and won Game 1 of the World Series in a fashion that set the tone for the series. He threw a complete game, allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits in a 3-2 victory. The Braves went on to win their first and only World Series championship during Greg Maddux’s tenure with the team.

When a pitcher’s earned run average rises more than a run from one year to the next, it typically is a cause for concern. With Maddux’s ERA rising more than a run in 1996, it meant a slight return to mortality, and the end of his streak of consecutive Cy Young Awards. However, his 2.72 ERA to go along with 15 wins still garnered him a 5th place finish in Cy Young balloting, and the veteran righty saved his best performance of 1996 for the Braves postseason. In five starts during the postseason, he held the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees to a combined .232 batting average with a 1.70 earned run average. He allowed just 7 earned runs in 37 innings. Despite his dominance, he was the tough luck loser in a 3-2 series loss in Game 6 to the New York Yankees despite limiting the Yankees offense to 3 runs in 15.2 innings in two World Series games.

The 1997 and 1998 seasons saw a return to the norm, at least with regard to the Maddux standard. Despite a combined record of 37-13 and an ERA of 2.21 over the two seasons that included the ERA title in 1998, Maddux finished 2nd and 4th respectively in National League Cy Young balloting. In addition to securing his 200th career victory, and his 100th victory as a member of the Atlanta Braves in 1998, he earned his only postseason save against the San Diego Padres. In fact, the postseasons of 1997 and 1998 were among his most dominating, but the final numbers don’t show precisely how good the righty was. Despite winning 2 games and losing 3, Maddux had a 1.80 earned run average over 6 appearances, allowing just 7 runs in 35 innings. Two of his losses came when the Braves offense mustered to score just a single run in both games.

Maddux won 19 games in 1999, despite his highest earned run average since his second year in the big leagues. It was also a season during which he allowed 258 hits in 219 innings, more hits than any season before or after. However, much like the two season prior, Maddux saved his best for the postseason with almost the exact same results. Despite a 2-3 record, he allowed just 7 runs in 28 innings pitched, good for a 2.25 ERA over four starts. Though the Atlanta Braves reached the World Series for the first time since 1996, they were no match for New York Yankees, suffering a 4 game sweep at the hands of the reigning champions.

Maddux had a slight return to his earlier dominance in 2000, his final season that he would receive a vote in the Cy Young balloting. His 3.00 ERA and 19 wins would become the level of consistency over the next three seasons. Between 2000 and 2002, his era hovered around or just below 3.00 to go along with 52 wins.

At the same time the Atlanta Braves were continuing to reach the postseason, and were regularly bounced from the postseason.  They reached the National League Championship once between 2000 and 2003, winning one game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2001 NLCS. In six starts over this time, Maddux again pitched better than his 1-4 postseason record over this time indicates. In four of his six starts, he allowed just 2 runs and pitched at least 6 innings in each contest. His final postseason start for the Atlanta Braves came against the Chicago Cubs in the 2003 National League Division Series. Allowing just 2 runs in 6 innings, Maddux and the Braves lost Game 3, and went on to lose the series in 5 games.

At the age of 37 years old, 2003 was Maddux’s final season in a Braves uniform, and it was also the final time his earned run average would be below 4.00 for a season. Maddux managed to win 16 games and start 36 games, the most since starting the same number of games in 1993. 2003 was also the end of an impressive 13 year streak of winning the Gold Glove Award.

Following the season, the Atlanta Braves and Greg Maddux could not come to an agreement to re-sign the veteran and in March of 2004, the righty returned to the Chicago Cubs. The signing proved to be a great move for the Cubs, as he complimented the rotation that included 23 year old Carlos Zambrano as each starter won 16 games. 2004 was a year of an incredible milestone for Maddux, when he earned his 300th win in August of that year against the San Francisco Giants.

As he entered his late 30s and early 40s, Maddux settled in as an anchor of the Cubs rotation in 2005 and 2006. Though 2005 saw the end of his incredible stretch of 15 wins per season when he won just 13 games, the year was still memorable for the milestones he reached. In April of 2005, he faced off against Roger Clemens in the first pitching matchup between two 300 game winners in 113 years. Later that season, he joined the 3,000 Strikeout Club, becoming just the ninth pitcher with 300 wins and 3,000 career strikeouts. He also became the fourth pitcher with 3,000 strikeouts and less than 1,000 walks issued.

His return to the Chicago Cubs came to an end at the trade deadline in 2006 when he was traded for the first time in his career to the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the Cubs were on their way to a season with more than 90 losses, the trade put Maddux back in the middle of a pennant race, a familiar place for the 40 year old. After starting the season at 9-11 with the Cubs, Maddux finished the season strong with the Dodgers, ending with an overall 15-14 record. In what would be his final postseason start, Maddux allowed 4 runs in 4 innings against the New York Mets, who swept the Dodgers 3 games to none.

Following the 2006 season, Maddux signed a 1 year deal with the San Diego Padres for $10 million, and the contract included a player option for the 2008 season. In addition to reaching a few more milestones, the 2007 season was a success for Maddux as he shored up the back end of the rotation behind Jake Peavy and Chris Young and managed to win 14 games with an ERA of 4.14 in just under 200 innings pitched. The 14 wins pushed him passed Cy Young for the most consecutive season with at least 13 victories at 20. Maddux became just the third pitcher to pitch 20 seasons with at least 10 wins, tied with Nolan Ryan and behind Don Sutton with 21.

Following the success of his first season with the San Diego Padres, Maddux picked up his player option for the 2008 season. Though his season record was 6-9 with the Padres, his 3.99 ERA indicated that he was still able to get out major league hitters. The Los Angeles Dodgers also believed this, as they made a mid-August trade to reacquire the future Hall of Famer that had helped them down the stretch in 2006.

Though his return to the Los Angeles Dodgers wasn’t as successful as his first go-round with the team, he reached a milestone in late September nonetheless. Maddux threw his 5,000th career inning as a Dodger, and won his 355th game in his final start of the season, putting him 8th all time for wins. The other difference from Maddux’s 2006 season with the Dodgers was that the team almost reached the World Series in 2008. Dodgers manager Joe Torre opted to go with a three man rotation for the postseason and had Maddux work out of the bullpen. He responded well in his new job, allowing no runs in 4 innings of work. The Dodgers would go on to lose the 2008 NLCS against the eventual World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. After the season, he was awarded his final Gold Glove award, and announced his retirement from baseball soon after.

Greg Maddux will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers of his generation, and in all major league baseball history. He will be eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot in 2014, and will likely be a first ballot nominee. He currently works in the Chicago Cubs front office.