Given the long, drawn-out media circus surrounding Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, etc, it's kinda nice to have a 100% feel-good story about a "sure-fire" Hall of Famer ending his career on his own terms. And really, in light of the fact that he pitched during the Juiced Era, Greg Maddux's accomplishments and career numbers are, if possible, that much more impressive. Early in his career, a low-90s fastball and pinpoint control were a lethal combination, but it was what he had upstairs that made him Greg Maddux. There are millions of anecdotes about his baseball IQ out there, but I'll include a couple of my favorites below:
Gene Wojo retells the story of a pitchers meeting just before the 1996 World Series
... pitching coach Leo Mazzone met with his starters and relievers and read them the detailed scouting reports. Maddux raised his hand after Mazzone read the report on Yankees slugger Bernie Williams.
"That report is not correct," Maddux said. "I've been watching film of Williams for two weeks, and that report is not correct."
"Did everybody hear that?" Mazzone said.
The Braves pitchers nodded.
"Well, then the hell with this report," Mazzone said. "We go with what Mad Dog says."
Williams hit .167 in the Series.
More recently, he lied to his teammates and it worked: the ultimate placebo effect?
Nevermind setting up a batter for a certain pitch later in an at-bat or even later in the game, Maddux would set up a guy looking forward two months:
Braves catcher Eddie Pérez tells the story of Maddux intentionally allowing a home run to the Astros’ Jeff Bagwell, in anticipation of facing Bagwell in the playoffs months later. Maddux felt Bagwell would instinctively be looking for the same pitch again, which Maddux would then refuse to throw. It worked.
And let's not forget that Chicks Dig the Long Ball:
That's ok Greg, we like you well enough as the guy you could catch with your eyes closed.