Most fans and baseball writers surely expected Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux‘s plaque to feature an Atlanta Braves logo, the team with which he spent 11 seasons, won three Cy Young Awards, and captured the 1995 World Series.
But in a bit of surprise Maddux decided to go with no logo at all.
Here’s how he explained the decision:
“My wife Kathy and I grew up in baseball in Chicago, and then we had just an amazing experience in Atlanta with the Braves. It’s impossible for me to choose one of those teams for my Hall of Fame plaque, as the fans of both clubs in each of those cities were so wonderful. I can’t think of having my Hall of Fame induction without support of both of those fan bases, so, for that reason, the cap on my Hall of Fame plaque will not feature a logo.”
Maddux’s decision was obviously as a surprise to some, but having spent a decade with the Cubs in his career, it isn’t all that shocking that the pitcher had conflicted feelings about which team to represent in Cooperstown.
It is a thoughtful & nuanced move from a pitcher who is widely thought of as the best “thinking man’s pitcher” the game has ever seen.
On a more personal note, Maddux will go down as one of my favorite players of all-time.
I have watched about a dozen no-no’s/perfect games over my life time but none of them will ever top his 76 pitch complete game shutout in July of 1997 (ironically enough, versus the Cubs).
He gave up 5 hits and only struckout 6 batters, but he was in complete control of the game, from start to finish, consistently missing the fat part of the bat and inducing weak ass grounder after weak ass grounder.
It was pure genius & I, for one, am glad that I was fortunate enough to witness it.
From Craig Calcaterra @ Hardball Talk:
We noted yesterday that the Braves have signed Ben Sheets. Hey, he used to have something, let’s see if he still has something again. No harm, no foul.
Except now we learn that Sheets will get all of two rehab starts and, assuming his arm doesn’t disintegrate, will join the Braves rotation by mid-July. Atlanta’s starting pitching has been a weakness all year, beset by injury and mediocrity, but I didn’t feel like things were so bad that they were reanimating corpses and plugging them in a week after the All-Star break.
Oh well, I won’t worry. Because I think the odds favor his arm actually disintegrating over him actually being a starter the Braves will depend on to turn a somewhat frustrating season around.
Not sure what’s better, the part about his arm disintegrating or the reanimating corpses bit, but damn if that isn’t some funny s***.
By Christian Boone @ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
His was not the only paunch among the fraternity of retired Braves who gathered at Turner Field for this past weekend’s annual alumni reunion.
But still, the middle-aged man claiming to be former player John Sullivan “definitely did not look like he ever played the game,” said Craig Skok, a reliever for the Braves from 1978-79. “He was very much out of shape.”
Sullivan’s bona fides were further challenged during Saturday’s alumni softball game. Watching him warm up, Andy Ashby, a starting pitcher for the Braves in 2000, remarked, “Dude, you’ve really gone downhill fast.”
“We figured he must’ve had some health problems,” said former Braves reliever Jose Alvarez (’81-’82, ‘88-’89), who estimated Sullivan’s bat speed at “no more than 30 mph.”
It turns out Sullivan, wearing uniform No. 8, was never a Brave. The organization declined comment, but those present at alumni weekend told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution it appears the man received an invitation intended for former Braves bullpen coach John Sullivan, who spent two years in Atlanta before following Bobby Cox to Toronto in 1982.
“I knew he wasn’t coming,” said the longtime Braves manager of his former coach.
Cox, who, according to Alvarez, never forgets those who played under him, said he was embarrassed he didn’t know the mystery man.
Finally, he asked Greg McMichael, the retired Braves reliever who now serves as the team’s liaison to alumni, “Who is this guy?” McMichael told him it was John Sullivan. “I said, ‘That’s not John Sullivan. I think you’ve been had,'” Cox told the AJC.
McMichael could not be reached for comment.
Read More HERE
Source: ESPN.com New Services
The third baseman, who has spent his entire 18-year career with Atlanta, has battled injuries the past several seasons and actually decided to retire in 2010, only to change his mind.
This time, he means it.
The Braves said the team and Jones, who will turn 40 next month, have expressed interest in him remaining with the franchise in a yet-to-be-determined capacity after he retires.
During the early days of spring training, Jones marveled that he was still with the Braves with his milestone birthday coming up in April.
“Never in my mid-20s would I have given myself a snowball’s chance to be in camp and have a job at 40 years old,” Jones told The Associated Press. “But I like to think I’ve kept myself in pretty good shape over the years. The skills are still there to go out and get it done. I don’t know for how much longer, but we’re gonna ride it as long as we can.”
Former Braves manager Bobby Cox said Jones should go into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot.
“No doubt,” Cox said. “A switch-hitter who has played on winners and done everything he’s done.”
Former Braves pitcher Greg Maddux, who was visiting the Texas Rangers‘ spring training facility on Thursday — his brother Mike is the Rangers’ pitching coach — said he was proud to call Jones a teammate.
Maddux joked that Jones could always change his mind, but noted how difficult it is for one player to spend an entire career with the same organization.
“I think it’s awesome,” Maddux said. “He’s had a great career. He’s a winner. He played to win every day. He was a great hitter and was very well prepared. He meant a lot to that franchise and still means a lot to that franchise.”
Jones has indicated that his most likely post-career option is working as a hitting instructor.
“I think I’d be better off as a specialty coach,” Jones told the AP last month. “I have such a passion for hitting. I’m kind of a one-track-mind kind of guy.
“While I think I could manage, I really don’t have the urge to manage. I’d much rather be a hitting coach than a manager.”
Jones, who was selected No. 1 overall by the Braves in the 1990 amateur draft, has spent his entire professional career with the franchise. A seven-time All-Star, he has a .304 career average with 454 home runs, 526 doubles and 1,561 RBIs in 2,387 games.
A feared hitter when healthy, Jones has carved out a place in baseball history as one of the best to ever hit from both sides of the plate.
His 454 home runs rank Jones third all-time among switch hitters, behind Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, who hit 536 homers, and Eddie Murray, who slugged 504. His career batting average ranks second among all switch hitters, behind Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch (.316).
He is the only switch hitter in major league history with more than 300 home runs and a career batting average over .300.
Jones’ best season was 1999, when he won the MVP award with a .319 average, a career-leading 45 homers and 110 RBIs. Nine years later, at age 36, he won his first batting title with a career-high .364 average, which remains the last of his 10 seasons hitting above .300.
He hit .275 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs in 126 games last season.
Jones was initially pegged to join the Braves’ lineup four years after he was drafted as a left fielder. But he suffered a season-ending knee injury in spring training, delaying his debut.
What a debut it was.
Back at his natural infield position, Jones finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting and helped the Braves win their first World Series title in Atlanta.
That remains his only championship, even though the Braves kept right on winning the NL East through 2005 in an unprecedented streak of 14 straight division titles. Jones was on teams that lost to the New York Yankees in the 1996 and 1999 World Series.
Maddux, who won three of his four Cy Young Awards in Atlanta, remembers playing all kinds of card games with Jones.
“I won most of them because he was a rookie,” Maddux said, smiling. “But he’s pretty good at them now. We played in the clubhouse before games, during rain delays, on the plane. He was fun to be around and a great teammate.”
After the team slumped for a couple of years, Jones was joined by a new generation of players who led the Braves back to the postseason in 2010 — the final year of Cox’s long tenure as manager. Atlanta lost to the eventual champion San Francisco Giants in a tightly fought division series that Jones missed, having gone down in August with the second season-ending knee injury of his career.
In addition to two major knee operations, Jones has had to deal with nagging ailments since 2004. This spring, he reported in top shape but faced leg problems, leading him to question whether he could even make it through the season.
“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t take some kind of pill or injection … to help me go out there,” he said.
ESPNDallas.com baseball writer Richard Durrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
ESPN’s Buster Olney talks waivers in his latest blog post, and I can’t help but join in.
- The Twins are currently seven games out in the AL Central. If they slip further from contention, Olney wonders what will happen if they place outfielder/designated hitter Jason Kubel on waivers later this month. He projects currently as a Type B free agent. I wonder if the draft pick alone would compel a non-contending AL team to make a claim, with less than a million bucks remaining on his contract after August.
- Olney sees such a scenario as possible for Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth, who profiles as a Type A. He could see the Blue Jays jumping in for the draft picks, though I imagine the Rays would keep him for the same reason.
- Would Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez or Padres closer Heath Bell make it to an NL contender? Or would Type A status again factor in? Olney sees the A’s pulling back Josh Willingham rather than dumping his contract, probably because he’s a Type A currently. I wonder if Willingham would accept an arbitration offer though.
- Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena is a good candidate to be moved as a salary dump, with half of his $10MM due in January.
- Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez is expected to clear waivers, with over $38MM left on his deal through 2014. Just to play devil’s advocate: Wandy is a bargain this year with just $2.27MM remaining, so it’s possible one contender could decide they can stomach three years and $36MM from 2012-14, and make a claim.
- Guys like Carlos Quentin and Jeremy Guthrie would be claimed, but dealing them in the offseason probably makes more sense.
Hahahaha from Craig Calcaterra comes this possible explanation for Eric Gregg’s “questionable” strike zone in Game 7 of the 1997 National League Championship Series (seriously folks, if you didn’t witness the thing it was the worst job of umpiring I have seen since Leslie Nielson in the Naked Gun):
I never did understand why Eric Gregg’s strike zone was so out of whack in Livan Hernandez‘s favor back in the 1997 playoffs. I’ve considered any number of possibilities, from basic incompetence to some complicated theory in which Livan Hernandez’s acquaintances in the illicit drug business were somehow involved, but all of these theories have flaws.
I just read the best explanation I’ve ever heard. It’s by Jon Bois over at SB Nation and it involves the history of the color teal. Only part of that involves Gregg and Hernandez, but it is a key part. Bonus: for the first time ever, we have a transcript of Gregg’s conversation with Braves hitters during the game:
ERIC GREGG. Strike three!
McGRIFF. That was in the right-handed batter’s box.
GREGG. Sure was.
McGRIFF. The right-handed batter’s box is out of the strike zone.
GREGG. Evidently not, because that was a strike.
GREGG gestures to HERNANDEZ, who fires another pitch.
GREGG. Strike 2.1!
GREGG. Strike one on Klesko.
McGRIFF. He’s not even in the box yet.
GREGG. Rollover strikes.
McGRIFF. This is insane.
GREGG. Look, it’s just… I’m not really interested in seeing the Braves to the World Series again. Nobody is, really.
I just knew it.
That’s some really good stuff.
And it explains a lot.
A honeymoon in the hoosegow was likely on tap for this male Atlanta Braves fan after he ran onto Turner Field in a wedding dress. The incident occurred during Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Washington Nationals and provided the home crowd of 42,456 people with one of its only reasons to cheer all night.
Though the bride was quickly divorced from his dash by ballpark security, the lessons from the incident were clear: If you want to separate yourself from all the other buffoons who interrupt baseball games these days, it helps to be dressed as a woman on her wedding day.
“That was a pretty good open -field tackle, too [by security],” Nats manager Davey Johnson told the Washington Post. “I’m just wondering was he getting married, or is he going to the wedding or coming from it. I don’t know.”
There’s no official MLB.com video on this one — the league presumably doesn’t want to encourage any copybrides — nor are there any clear videos on the YouTubes.
YouTube, however, does have plenty of post-dash hee-hawing from excited and camera-toting Southerners, so it’s definitely worth a search.
Anyone know how to remove grass stains from virgin white?