My idea of a perfect day: Watching Greg Maddux's best starts, from start to finish, for 12 hours. I want to watch front-door sinker after front-door sinker. I want to record my guess of what/where the pitch will be and log the results of how often I predict the actual pitch. I want to watch how Eddie Perez handles Maddux and compare that to a rare Javy Lopez/Maddux start. I want to see Barry Bonds break his bat and Wade Boggs swing and miss.
Alas, there are only two full Greg Maddux games available online, and he lost both of them. They are not peak Maddux. This one is still amazing ...
... as it contains moving images like this ...
... and it features Tim McCarver quotes like this:
Of all the five senses, if Greg Maddux lost his sense of touch, it would probably be ... the worst thing to lose as a pitcher.
Right, right. But it's not the quintessential Maddux start. For now, all we have are box scores until the videos are uploaded, which is a shame. But box scores can be fun when you're talking about Greg Maddux, so in honor of his Hall of Fame induction on Sunday, here's Greg Maddux at his most extreme.
Quickest complete game
Date: June 27, 1998
Teams: Blue Jays at Braves
Time of game: 1:46
Maddux labored through this start, throwing a whopping 102 pitches, but there's a good explanation: He had 13 strikeouts, including an impressive 25 swinging strikes. The game started at 7:05 p.m. in Atlanta, and it ended before sunset.
The game started at 7:05 p.m. in Atlanta, and it ended before sunset.
There's a catch, though:
In adding to his legacy Saturday night, the right-hander turned night into day and offered the Toronto Blue Jays a lesson in the value of throwing strikes. Maddux, who says he'll never throw a no-hitter because he's in the strike zone too much, made home plate umpire Eric Gregg the busiest man at Turner Field.
Eric Gregg. Carlos Delgado was probably right to grumble:
"Maddux has good stuff," Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado said. "His ball moves a lot and he's got good control, but he gets a lot of help. The plate is 17 inches wide, but with Gregg it's about 25 inches wide and that makes it a lot harder."
Still, it was a complete game in an hour and 46 minutes. When Greg meet a Gregg comin' through the rye , it sure frees your Friday night up.
Most ridiculous game score
Maddux faced two batters over the minimum, striking out 14, with 21 swinging strikes. This time, Eric Gregg wasn't his co-pilot. The Brewers' lineup was filled with high-whiff players like Richie Sexson, Jeremy Burnitz, and Jose Hernandez. Burnitz saw 10 pitches in three plate appearances, striking out all three times. He also tossed his bat into the stands before his final swing-and-miss of the night.
Bill James's game score gives points for strikeouts and innings pitched, and it subtracts points for runs, hits, and walks. Maddux allowed two hits and one walk, and the walk came to the leadoff hitter, Ronnie Belliard. It would be the last three-ball count until the ninth inning, when Maddux got Belliard to ground out on a 3-2 pitch.
Maddux didn't know it at the time, but he agreed with James's metric/toy:
"That's probably as good as I can throw," said Maddux, who lowered his earned run average to 1.94. "I'm not sure what else I can do."
Bonus game-score ridiculousness: Maddux's third-best game score ever was this gem against the Cardinals, in which he threw an 88-pitch shutout in a 1-0 victory, allowing just two hits. Two weeks later, Maddux matched up with the Cardinals again, and he shut them out, again winning 1-0.
The 1995 Cardinals were probably pretty sick of Greg Maddux.
The Madduxiest game ever
Date: July 22, 1997
Teams: Braves at Cubs
Time of game: 2:07
This game. This is the one I want to watch. This is the one I'd pay $12 to see on the big screen, dropping $5 for Junior Mints along the way. This is the one that should go into the exploratory spacecraft along with "Guernica," "Odessey and Oracle," and Airplane!. Maddux threw 76 pitches in a complete game, and he threw strikes with 83 percent of his pitches. He went to a two-ball count twice, and he didn't throw a ball in the third or fifth innings. The breakdown of pitches by inning:
The fourth inning was his most laborious inning, when he allowed a seeing-eye single, a stolen base, and two grounders to score a run. He still threw just 12 pitches. It was the first game of a doubleheader, and the entire double header took four hours and 54 minutes, which was nine minutes shy of this nine-inning Yankees/Red Sox game.
Maddux wasn't exactly thumping his chest after the game, saying:
“I got some first-pitch outs and they didn’t hit a lot of foul balls,” Maddux said. “I got outs with some mistakes. Something out of the ordinary has to happen to only make 78 pitches.”
Sometimes when you don't brag, it's kind of like bragging, Greg.
I want to watch this game so bad. Does anyone have the email address for Kenny Advancedmedia? I think he's in charge of this thing. Do we get a Kickstarter going? Do we go to the Ninth Ave. office and stage a sit-in? We'll have to figure this out.
In the meantime, we'll end with some silly Greg Maddux facts:
- Dale Murphy was 2-for-34 against Maddux in his career. Both hits came in the same game, a loss to Maddux and the Cubs.
- Maddux started 740 games. In 236 of them, he didn't allow a walk.
- He went to a 3-0 count to five batters in 1997. He faced 893 batters that season.
- He walked the leadoff hitter of an inning in 0.3 percent of the time.
- He didn't allow a triple in 1995 or 2000.
- Maddux had 24 quality starts in 25 attempts in 1994.
- He gave up as many home runs in his first five seasons with the Braves (1156 innings) as Bronson Arroyo did in 2011.
- Maddux's career batting average on balls put in play (BABiP) was .286 -- the same mark as Bruce Chen, and higher than Scott Elarton.
Greg Maddux was, is, and always will be one of baseball's greatest treasures. Congratulations to him on his Hall of Fame induction.
Never forget what might have been, either.