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.

As a baseball fan, I loved any chance to watch Bob Gibson or Nolan Ryan, any chance to watch a young Doc Gooden or Pedro Martinez.

But my all-time favorite pitcher to watch was Greg Maddux on TBS in the mid-’90s. To marvel at his mastery, starting in 1993 and for six seasons when he was a combined 107-42 with a 2.15 ERA, with 159 unintentional walks in 191 starts … it was a wonderful respite from the hapless Twins of the time.

On Wednesday, Maddux swept into the Hall of Fame, leading a grand three-man group that included teammate Glavine and slugger Frank Thomas. How did this happen with a guy who couldn’t touch 90 on a radar gun?

“Ever since you were a little kid, you had coaches tell you, ‘Get your pitch,’ ” Charlie O’Brien, Maddux’s former designated catcher, once said. “With Doggie, you don’t get your pitch.”

And that was it — the secret of greatness.

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. • preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Cleveland «0310300007100
Minnesota0110000103100
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:T.House(4-3) L:T.May(3-5) S:M.Rzepczynski (1)
HR: CLE- Y.Gomes (20) MIN- B.Dozier (21)

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 3
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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 sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close