On this day, 22 years ago, Greg Maddux signed with the Braves and changed history forever
22 years ago today, a great cosmic shift was felt around the world. Some said it was an earthquake, others just leaky pipes, while some even reported seeing phantom members of the baseball world floating about in their bedrooms.
But no, it was Greg Maddux putting ink to paper. On Dec. 9, 1992, with Maddux coming off his first Cy Young Award following a 20-11, 2.18 ERA season as a Cub, the Braves inked the right-hander to a five-year, $28 million deal.
The deal almost wasn't. The Yankees had offered the right-hander $6 million more, with then-general manager Gene Michael saying, "He's the best one out there. I never thought I could say this. But he's a steal at $28 million. He's a steal."
For the next eleven years, Maddux would dominate the game like no one else. While we remember him now as the bespectacled professor who would simply drop 86 mph fastballs on the corner with such precision we thought he was using a protractor, it's important to remember that the dude could deal, too. In '92, scout Chuck Koney gave his fastball a '7' on the 2-8 scouting scale, which means that his fastball was sitting around 95 mph.
Upon joining the Braves, Maddux would lead the league in ERA, complete games and innings pitched in each of his first three seasons, collecting a Cy Young for each campaign.
He would win at least 15 games in every year with the team. This is what his average season in Atlanta looked like:
18-8, 230 IP, 6 CG, 166 SO, 35 BB, 2.63 ERA.
And let's not forget that this was during one of the offensive heights in baseball history. In 1996, when teams were averaging 5.04 runs per game, at the time the highest rate since the 1930s, Greg Maddux's ERA was less than half that at 2.72. And among pitchers since 1950 with at least 200 innings, Maddux had four separate seasons where his BB/9 are in the top 15 of all-time.
But Maddux wasn't just an unstoppable pitcher. He was also a dancer (with the arm-flapping abilities of Kermit the Frog)
And his prank abilities were known far and wide (hint: don't eat the chili):
Somewhere, in some alternate universe, Greg Maddux signed with the Yankees or stayed with the Cubs and the entire future would have changed. Perhaps Jurassic Park wouldn't have been a movie, but an actual real and terrifying event. Perhaps an ancient race of subterranean cave people would have emerged and taken over the planet. Perhaps an alien settlement would have landed on Earth and, after witnessing a Maddux start, have deemed our species as too much of a threat.
Fortunately, Maddux did sign with the Braves and we avoided all of that. So thanks for that.