Today, the Cubs honored two all-time greats by retiring the No. 31 jersey, worn by both Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux. I am not old enough to have seen Jenkins pitch with the Cubs, nor am I able to remember Maddox's first stint with the Cubs, but I am nonetheless glad to see proper respect given.
Jenkins will be remembered as part of the infamous 1969 Chicago team and for winning 20 games six years in a row.
Maddux will be remembered by most as part of the great Atlanta Braves teams of the '90s and for saying in a TV spot, "chicks dig the long ball."
Looking back on that commercial, it perfectly sums up the "steroid" era of which Maddux pitched.
As you recall, Maddux and fellow 300-game winner Tom Glavine are overlooked by Mark McGwire's penchant for belting batting practice long balls. Of course, as we all know now, Big Mac had a little artificial help hitting the long ball.
Maddux was overlooked because he was not flashy (except for when he flashed the leather), he did not throw in the mid 90's, nor did he buzz the tower of the batter like his contemporary Roger Clemens.
Recent revelations have indicated that Clemens' "rocket" should have faded before it did. Whether or not that breaks the "tie" between Roger and Greg is up to personal evaluation.
Thankfully, Maddux has one more victory (355) than Clemens (354) in the record books, and I think people are slowly realizing who really was the better pitcher.
It is refreshing to look back on Maddux's career and know without a doubt that he was clean; it's certain his numbers aren't tainted in any way. It is also refreshing that our last memory of Maddux is on the field and not in front of congress or in a court room.
Greg was consistent on the mound and consistently overlooked, and now that he is retired, I am glad he is getting his due.
Today the recognition comes from the Cubs, later this summer from the Braves, and in five years from the Hall Of Fame.