Reusse: In Maddux, we saw a master at work

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 9, 2014 - 12:38 AM

The 1996 playoffs showed how the Braves ace — and new Hall of Famer — could dominate with efficiency.

hide

FILE -- Atlanta Braves Greg Maddux pitches to the Cleveland Indians in the first inning of Game Five of the World Series at Jacobs Field in Cleveland in this Oct. 26, 1995 photo.

Photo: ELISE AMENDOLA, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The long-shot St. Louis Cardinals took a 3-1 lead over Atlanta in the 1996 NLCS. The Braves stayed alive emphatically, 14-0 in Game 5, and then the series moved to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

The Braves had taken batting practice and were back in the home clubhouse. The TV was turned to ESPN, where the crew was analyzing Greg Maddux’s alleged mediocrity in previous starts in the NLCS.

Maddux overheard the commentary. Third baseman Chipper Jones would later relay to reporters Maddux’s reaction:

“Doggie turned around, looked at the TV and said, ‘I must really stink then.’ I think it fired him up.”

Maddux’ nickname was Mad Dog, and thus “Doggie” for short. And he did go to the mound with fire that night, beating the Cardinals 3-1.

He threw 80 pitches that night to record 23 outs. Gary Gaetti, the St. Louis third baseman, summarized the secret of Maddux’s greatness: “He has a way to make bad pitches look good.”

The Braves won again in Game 7 and, as defending champions, advanced to the World Series against the Yankees.

John Smoltz (and rookie Andruw Jones) beat the Yankees 12-1 in Game 1. And the next night, Maddux was magnificent and then some, getting 24 outs on 82 pitches in a 4-0 victory.

Back-to-back October starts, one to stay alive in an NLCS, the next in the World Series, and Maddux got 47 outs on 162 pitches. Of those 162, 125 were strikes. In Yankee Stadium, he faced 29 hitters and started 24 with strikes.

I always loved watching Maddux pitch — but watching him that night was the one for me to remember him by.

“The best way I can describe Maddux is that he throws you a strike without giving you anything to hit,” Leo Mazzone, the Atlanta pitching coach, said in the visitors clubhouse. “Tonight, he stayed almost exclusively with the fastball and the changeup. At one point, he threw four straight changeups.”

That happened in the sixth inning, when the Yankees put on two runners, Wade Boggs hit into a double play and Bernie Williams was the out needed for Maddux to escape.

“Bernie gave him a tough at-bat …,” Mazzone said. “Greg started him changeup, changeup, changeup, changeup, then fastball in hard and another fastball in hard.”

And finally a changeup that Williams tapped to second. If it hadn’t violated the rules on the press credential, I would have stood and applauded in the auxiliary press box as Maddux headed from the mound.

Remarkably, the Yankees came back to win that Series and start a dynastic run that would lead to four titles in five seasons. They beat Maddux in Game 6 in the Bronx, 3-2, with a three-run fourth set up when Marquis Grissom butchered a fly ball in center field.

Maddux had come to Atlanta in 1993. This was before MLB-TV, before you could order the MLB package to give you 95 percent of games on cable.

This still was the time when the first places to check for out-of-market games were for the Braves on TBS or the Cubs on WGN.

My first stop was always TBS. If Tom Glavine or John Smoltz was pitching, I’d watch a couple of innings and get antsy to click. If Maddux was pitching, I’d watch until he left the ballgame.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Portland 6:30 PM
Brooklyn
Sacramento 6:30 PM
New York
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Orlando 7:00 PM
Memphis
Boston 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 6:00 PM
American Univ
Wright State 6:00 PM
Detroit
Syracuse 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Delaware State 6:00 PM
NC Central
High Point 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Howard 6:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Coppin State 6:30 PM
NC A&T
Nicholls 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Hampton 6:30 PM
SC State
Gardner-Webb 7:00 PM
Campbell
MD-Eastern Shore 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Norfolk State 7:00 PM
Savannah State
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
McNeese State 7:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Milwaukee 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 7:30 PM
Alabama State
Prairie View 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Texas 8:00 PM
Iowa State
Texas Southern 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Long Island 2:00 PM
Bryant
Central Conn St 2:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Fairleigh Dickinson 2:30 PM
Sacred Heart
St Francis-PA 3:00 PM
Wagner
Delaware State 3:00 PM
NC Central
Howard 4:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Coppin State 4:30 PM
NC A&T
Hampton 4:30 PM
SC State
Norfolk State 4:45 PM
Savannah State
MD-Eastern Shore 5:00 PM
Florida A&M
Samford 5:00 PM
Chattanooga
Prairie View 5:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 5:30 PM
Alabama State
Texas Southern 5:30 PM
Miss Valley St
(10) Texas A&M 6:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Robert Morris 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
Mercer
Wofford 6:00 PM
Furman
Morehead St 6:00 PM
Tenn Tech
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Rider
Illinois 6:00 PM
Michigan
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
(18) Miss State 8:00 PM
Auburn
(16) Nebraska 8:00 PM
(20) Iowa
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close