Greg Maddux never had the lights out fastball or the knee-buckling curve. He was more wizard than gladiator on the mound. What he lacked in mph, he made up for in guile and precision - both of which he possessed in spades.
I became a Braves fan when Maddux was at the height of his powers. Each at-bat I'd hope for a 2-strike count so that I could witness yet another called third strike on a fastball that cut back over the inside corner. It remains one of my favourite things in all of sport.
Cooperstown will welcome Maddux into its next class, that much has never been in doubt. However, I never felt Maddux got the praise he deserved during his career - always in the shadow of pitchers with the electric arms. Clemens, Pedro and the Big Unit were the long ball to Maddux's seeing eye RBI single.
My hope is that he will now get the recognition befitting a man of such significant achievements. Perhaps the long shadow Clemens cast on the era will now allow the light to shine more brightly on Maddux.
Remember this commercial?
"How long are they gonna worship this guy?" - Prophetic question from Glavine. Now it is Maddux's turn in the spotlight while Clemens, Bonds, McGwire etc. are watching from the outskirts.
The only things missing from his resume are more World Series rings (1) and 20-game seasons (2). Still, we may never again see statistics like those he posted over 23 seasons:
18 fifteen win seasons
17 consecutive fifteen win seasons
1.14 career WHIP
5008 Innings Pitched
Only 7 times did he walk more than 50 batters in a season, none after 1993
4 consecutive Cy Young Awards
109 Complete Games
200+ Innings Pitched in 18 seasons
The list of accomplishments are endless. Taken together, they position Maddux as one of the all-time greats, a singular talent. He'll be recognized as such when he's elected to the Hall of Fame. Some speculate whether he'll be the first player ever elected with a unanimous vote. He's deserving of such an honour, but it won't make a lick of difference to the sheer volume of greatness he's given baseball.